The Gate, Hammersmith

Couscous-crusted aubergine

Originally uploaded by dynamist.

It’s funny how one can stumble upon a good restaurant recommendation these days. I was double-checking the address of an appointment I had in Hammersmith this afternoon via Google when I clicked on a link for nearby restaurants. (I made my appointment in Hammersmith so that I could have lunch with my fiancé, Antoine, who works in King Street.) That is how I came upon The Gate, a vegetarian and vegan eatery, and I’m so glad I did.

The restaurant is tucked into a very quiet part of Queen Caroline Street, just past the Hammersmith Apollo. We never stepped foot inside, choosing to dine in the lovely, secluded garden. You can gaze upon all kinds of pleasing sights there: blue plaques, napping cats, and fragrant herbs sprouting from the ground, to name just a few.

First we each had a piece of The Gate’s excellent wholemeal bread dipped in their homemade herbed olive oil. To start, Antoine chose the warm potato salad with fava beans, beetroot, and oven roasted tomatoes. This was just delicious, and – like most of everything else we ate at The Gate – an unexpected combination of flavours that worked perfectly. My starter was an artichoke and hazelnut roulade, creamy and nutty, with extra pepper from the bed of rocket upon which it was served.

The main courses were both good, but I really wished I had ordered what Antoine chose, as it was utterly faultless. He had penne with mushrooms, caramelised red onion, and courgette. This sounds simple enough, and it was, but it was also incredibly flavourful. By contrast, my (really quite nice) couscous-crusted aubergine with preserved lemon, chickpeas, and rabbit lettuce salad did suffer. I have no complaint, though, other than that I keep ordering items that are only slightly less good than what Antoine chooses.

I’m sure the puddings at The Gate are as good as what we tried, but we were both simply far too full even to contemplate dessert. In fact, six hours after lunch, we are both still feeling very full from this meal. There will definitely be a next time at The Gate for us, though, and perhaps we can go down the sweet route then.

The service was impeccable and friendly – a marked contrast from another vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Mildred’s in Soho, where most chip-shouldered members of staff seem to take pride in being rude and incompetent. Starters are around £6, main courses around £14, so this is not a budget option but not ridiculously priced. London is full of restaurants charging silly sums for very mediocre food, whereas The Gate gives you excellent food, great service, and a relaxing atmosphere. Four thumbs up from the two of us.

The Gate
51 Queen Caroline Street
London W6 9QL
Tel 020 8748 6932