Open The Gate and explore the garden of ‘Eating’. Sophie Ritchie visits the London restaurant group serving up gourmet plant-based cuisine without gimmicks
First opened in 1989, The Gate is a restaurant group composed (or should that be composted) of plant-based pioneers, serving up delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes inside the realms of laid-back interiors with friendly service.
With locations in Marylebone, Hammersmith, Islington and St John’s Wood, the menus are divided into sections of Starters, Mains, Sides and Desserts and differ slightly for each location. There’s also a fairly extensive drinks list with enough Prosecco-infused cocktails to make any socialite beam ear to ear. I visit the Marylebone site, perched on Seymour Place just a few minute’s walk from Marble Arch.
Stepping into the space reveals a boho chic array of tables and banquet seating, with white brick walls and lime green colour tones. At 6.30pm, it’s already filling up fast with a mix of guests – groups of friends, dates and even an adorable elderly couple who might be in their late 80’s but are dressed more stylishly than half of us.
Focusing solely on meat-free cuisine, there’s ‘planty’ on the menu here. Torn between the array of enticing starts (I’m so used to seeing 1-2 veggie options that an entire section dedicated to them makes choosing rather difficult) my guest and I decide to share a few – the Avocado & Beetroot Tartare (£9), Artichoke & Truffle (£10) and Miso Glazed Aubergine (£10).
The Miso-doused aubergine is perfect (and at only a tenner, so well priced). It’s soft in texture and zingy in flavour, paired with Ponzu sauce, daintily chopped coriander and a generous sprinkle of chopped nuts and sesame seeds. The vibrant tartare is a reviving duo of smooth beetroot and creamy avocado chunks, arranged upon the plate like a circular work of art and topped with fresh watercress to finish off the edible masterpiece. I’m less keen on the Artichoke (I much prefer it hot rather than clammily cold) but my friend devours the truffle-infused mix of Jerusalem artichoke, pickled globe artichoke, and smoked baby artichoke with ease.
For mains I avoid the fast approach of autumn and opt for another refreshing option – the Green Dragon Salad (£14). It’s both incredibly fresh and packed with flavour – after all, it’s made of so many vegetables there could be half a Farmer’s Market on my place. If you’re looking to pack in your greens, the combination of glazed smoked tofu, avocado, sweet potato, red cabbage, pak choi, daikon, heritage carrot and peppers (a mouthful in itself!) is the most delicious way to do it. It’s served with a sticky teriyaki & sesame dressing, which adds just the right amount of Asian sweetness to the salad.
The staff, who become busier and busier during the evening much like a rendition of Zorba’s Dance are both friendly and knowledge, even when flying around the room to serve table after table. Much like the interiors around me, they stay laid-back and relaxed for the entire meal.
Despite the tempting offer I pass on dessert, as by this point I’m so full of nutrients I could probably roll my way back home – although the call of a Mango and Passionfruit Cheesecake is rather alluring.
The Wordrobe Verdict
No gimmicks, just generous portions and gourmet flavours at this fantastic vegetarian find. If you’re tired of generic dishes when it comes to eating meat-free, discover a world of plant-based poise at The Gate this autumn.
Make it happen
Where: 22-24 Seymour Pl, London W1H 7NL
How: Visit thegaterestaurants.com to find out more and make a booking.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor