Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Gate, Hammersmith

I’ve been meaning to visit The Gate for some time now, but when suggesting places to eat out with friends I’m always reluctant to go for a wholly vegetarian restaurant, to impose my choices on them, and I wouldn’t even chance it with my mother for fear of her response. Fortunately on this occasion - a kind of long-time, no-see, catch-up situation - it was one of my friends that suggested we meet here, thus saving me from my dilemma.

Hidden away behind the Hammersmith Apollo, it’s a place you might easily walk past if you weren’t looking out for it (one of my friends did just that). To get to a restaurant you go through a little gate into a pretty courtyard - which must be a lovely spot to lunch on days when the sky is slightly less imposing – up some stairs and into an attractive high ceilinged room.

The gate at The Gate

The Gate has been around for twenty years and has a reputation as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in London. I have their Easy Vegetarian book and use it often. It’s full of recipes I regularly return to, their dishes alternating between the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian, and often meeting somewhere in the middle.

I started with the halloumi kibi (£6.25), a skewer of Cypriot cheese and chunks of roasted vegetables on a chick pea salsa, all drizzled in a tangy orange tikka sauce. The heat of this perked up what might have been pedestrian dish and gave it a bit of a kick. My main was more creative. Rotolo (£13.50) turned out to be a potato parcel filled with an herby butternut squash and goats’ cheese mixture, topped with curls of crisp parsnip. The flavours went well together but it became slightly monotonous towards the end. There were a few green beans underneath, but I could have done with a few more for the sake of contrast and texture. Mine was also not nearly as prettily plated as my friend’s version of the same dish.

For dessert we shared a lavender crème brulee (£5.50). This was a delicate tiptoeing dessert, ever so light – perhaps a little too subtle for my palate as I could barely detect any lavender (that said too little lavender is preferable to too much).

At some point I suspect someone must have leant on the light switch, as the lighting in the room descended from ‘intimate’ to ‘bedroom’ making interior photography all but impossible without getting my flash on, which I was disinclined to do.

The food was satisfying – none of my meat-eating friends left talking about grabbing a kebab on the way home – but nothing strayed into the ‘oh my god’ territory. To be fair the Gate was having a wild food festival on the night we visited so its regular menu was somewhat curtailed. If I’d have known in advance I’d have saved my pennies and gone for this option as there were some exciting looking things flying out of the kitchen. I really feel I’ve not tasted the best of what they’re capable of and will probably go back on a normal night – I might even make the suggestion myself.

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The Gate, 51 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9QL


  1. This is my favourite vegetarian restaurant in London. I've been a number of times and always enjoyed it. Mildred's in Soho is also pretty good.

  2. nice review. I've walked past it a few times but not managed to pop in... going to Vanilla Black next week after a recent inspirational trip to Dirt Candy in NYC

  3. @Grumbling Gourmet I've not yet tried Vanilla Black, I'll look out for your post.

    @Kate M I've had a couple of meals at Mildred's. First was pretty decent but return visit nowhere near as good; consistency seems to be an issue.