You may be familiar with my quest to find the BEST Vegetarian / Vegan restaurants located in my home town of London, England. Kicking off the start of the search I am excited to share with you my experiences when I paid a complementary visit with a friend to the award winning The Gate Restaurant – Hammersmith Branch.
Set just off the busy main roads of Hammersmith Broadway lies one of London’s Most Successful Vegetarian Restaurants according to industry experts and food critiques. Ran by brothers Adrian and Michael Daniel, the pair both describe the restaurants menu and food on offer as a reflection of the diverse cultural background in which they grew up in – Indo and Iraqi Jewish to be exact. This means you can look forward to your taste-buds being tantalised with mouth-watering flavourful infusions of Indian, Arabic and Jewish cuisine with an added influence of French and Italian.
Upon entering the restaurant I couldn’t help but notice how light and airy the hallway was. I took a second to admire the modern but jazzy wooden art deco along the wall as we made our way up the wooden staircase to the dining area. We were met by our waitress of the evening who kindly showed us to our seats.
We had the restaurant pretty much to ourselves at this point as we arrived just as they reopened for dinner. The dining area itself was nice and bright, making full use of the natural daylight outside thanks to the huge glass window panes installed on one side of the restaurant, with the other side repeating the trendy theme of jazzy wooden art deco.
Whilst this branch may not be the largest of venues I have dined at over the years, I did however appreciate the seating arrangements for the tables and chairs were not overly clustered together making it an intimate experience as opposed to feeling evasive at complete strangers being a whisker away from brushing ones shoulders.
Deciding on what to have for our starters I couldn’t pass the opportunity to have a freshly squeezed glass of Orange, Strawberry and Mint juice whilst my friend opted for a jug lemon water.
In the end, we both decided to try the Mezz Plater, a selection of the starters on the menu based on two people sharing excluding their soup of the day and courgette flower. This may seem alot for some, but gave us the opportunity to sample as much as we could physically eat in order to give you, the reader an insight into each dish that would hopefully make selection a tad bit easily for those that trust my judgement.
When the Mezz Plater arrived we both were AMAZED at how beautifully presented and pretty each dish looked. It was obvious that a great deal of skill and passion went into this presentation and between us, couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
My first helping of the Mezz Platter came in the form of Arancini a’la Contadina which, in essence is Deep fried risotto dumplings filled with peas, fava beans and mint, served with sun dried tomato pesto. This deep fried ball of goodness went down a treat and was crisped to perfection. The inside was soft and bursting with flavour. It’s a shame this platter only came with two dumplings as I easily could have put away a second or a third. This was my second favourite of the starters.
Pondering on what to have next I moved onto the Beetroot Ravioli – Roasted and shaved beetroot filled with goats cheese, caramelised apple and walnuts, served with heritage beetroots, watercress and basil & celery granite. I must admit, despite my best efforts, both Beetroot and Goats Cheese are not something my taste-buds have yet become accustom to so was very sceptical if I would like it at all.
Being the fussy type when being confronted with foods I do not like, I nibbled on a piece for the sake of the review to take in the flavour and surprisingly liked it! The goats cheese and beetroot were not overpowering as I expected it to be and the caramelised apple and walnuts really complimented this dish. This was my fourth favourite of the starters.
I next had my share of the Leek, Trompette and Stilton Tart which was baked with crème fraiche custard, served with crispy leaves and red pepper tapenande. I think it is now an appropriate time to make mention of my strong dislike of cheese in general. To cut a long story short if its not cheddar cheese melted I generally go great lengths to avoid the stuff so faced with the scenario of eating my half of the tart left me feeling very apprehensive at the sheer thought of putting a piece in my mouth.
I plucked up the courage to try, even if it was just a little piece but wasn’t at all prepared for my next reaction. My eyes widened like a deer in headlights so to speak as my taste-buds awoke and danced around in my mouth.
What I anticipated to be my least favourite of them all turned out to be my stand out favourite starter which made me think back to my fear of cheese… its all about the way in which it is cooked, and my did The Gate win me over, not once, but TWICE! I even was sent into a temporary fit of giggles in amusement to my friend Bei quietly but noticably mmmm’ing and ahhhh’ing at every mouthful, which is a big statement in itself!
I next tried the Japanese rolls made with Smoked tofu, shiitake mushrooms, roasted red pepper, grilled courgette rolled in cos lettuce and served with wasabi miso dressing and pickled ginger. This looked quite strange to me, and time was spent fiddling around with it so not to touch the Wasabi miso dressing as I’m not a spicy lover and just as when I put fork to mouth, Bei started coughing at the sheer hotness of the wasabi. Not impressed by what I had witnessed, with Bei’s poor nose on fire, I decided to pass on this dish. One to avoid if you are like me and can’t take much heat! My least favourite of the starters.
The last of the starters I had the pleasure of tasting was the Halloumi Kibi – Roasted halloumi skewer in tikka marinade with courgette, peppers and red onions with chickpea salsa and harrisa. Sounds delicious right? It was! The texture of the roasted halloumi was perfect, not overly chewy and hard, but lovely and soft. I particularly adored the tikka marinade mixed with courgette, peppers and red onions but the chickpeas however, were a little on the hard side of me for I perfer them much softer whereas others may like them hard. This was my third favourite of the night.
Feeling content and satisfied with the starters we had the pleasure of trying it was time to choose our main course. There was a wide selection to choose from but in the end, after further pondering, we both opted for the Thai with a side order of Sweet Potato Fries as recommended by our waiter for the evening and politely asked for mine to be cooked with less spices as this dish was naturally packed with plenty of heat.
Tarka dhal, steamed basmati rice, spiced okra and potatoes, carrot and cashew nut pakora, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and mint salsa, pear chutney and a crisp papadum and a side of Triple cooked sweet potato with schoog.
There was no mistaking the obvious Indian influence and without exaggerating, every single mouthful was simply sublime! I couldn’t fault this dish even if I tried. From the crispiness of the papadum (I’m a real sucker for these) to the plump steamed basmati rice was pure perfection. Don’t get me started on the dhal itself (incredible). Packed full of flavour my only gripe is being too full to not finish everything on my plate and for turning up to dinner in a tight fitted knee length bodycon dress. Talk about no room to breath!
Feeling extremely full after our starter and main course we took advantage of the break to catch up whilst indulging in some of their China Tea. Bei opted for Jasmine Tea whilst I opted for their Green (Pouchong) Oolong Tea. Being the tea fiend I enjoyed every last drop from my pot of tea and it did the trick of easing the feeling of bloating.
Our waiter came over and asked if we wanted desert. Full to the brim we both looked at each other and smiled. Yep, my guest was thinking the same thing as I. How can one possibly dine and not have dessert, afterall I somehow ALWAYS find room for a sweet treat. We mutually decided on having the Dessert Mezz Platter so we could give you a run down on how each one tasted.
Lime & Lemongrass posset – with star anaise shortbread. The posset was thick, creamy and tangy. Every spoonful was devine and the shortbread biscuit accompanied this refreshing pot of goodness well. This was my second favourite dessert of the night.
Pineapple, pear and chilli crumble –Served with crème anglaise or vegan Chantilly cream I LOVE crumble and this did not disappoint. The pineapple and pear really worked well in this crumbled dessert (both fruits were nice and soft but still had a slight bite to it) but surprisingly didn’t taste a hint of chilli, not even once. I feel heat lovers would be a tad disappointed based on the description. This was my third favourite.
Summer pudding – Served with homemade mango and banana kulfi, Refreshingly fruity and loved, loved, LOVED the homemade mango and banana kulfi! This pushed this summer pudding into my joint third favourite of the night
Pressed chocolate & lavender torte –Served with crème fraiche. I never tried lavender in food before so was extremely intrigued by the description, however upon tasting I felt the lavender really over powered the dessert. This was my least favourite of the five I tried.
Brioche blueberry and white chocolate butter pudding – Served with blueberry compote Now this ladies and gents was my absolute favourite dessert of the night. The choice to use blueberry and white chocolate was an absolute dream in this brioche type dessert. It was that good I found myself taking small spoonfuls at a time as I didn’t want the experience to end!
After our dining experience my guest and I rolled out of the restaurant feeling incredibly full but also content and satified. It was an honour to have dined in your facilities, Thank you for having us.
What can I say other than The Gate, Hammersmith Branch will most definitely be seeing my face again! Everything from the facility, the service, the hospitality down to the presentation and actual taste of the food was impeccable beyond words. I would highly recommend paying The Gate a visit weather you are a vegetarian or not. If you are a person that loves great food, put this on your bucket list NOW, you will not be disappointed!
After an experience like ours its no wonder why this restaurant is one of London’s most talked about and recommended. The standard has been set in my quest to find the best vegetarian / vegan restaurants in London. Just putting it out there, it’ll take something pretty spectacular demote Adrian and Michael from the top spot.
You can visit The Gate Restaurant at either one of their two locations:
51 Queen Caroline Street
370 St John Street
For more information about The Gate Restaurant including their different menus on offer and price list, they can be found online by visiting The Gate Restuarant website, The Gate Restaurant Facebook or by simply following them on Twitter.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post nor has any money been exchanged. My guest and I received a complementary meal in my quest to find the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in London. All views expressed in this article are honest and entirely my own.
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin' Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.