In the spirit of a healthy January (and after a month of unadulterated Christmas piggery on my part), I suggested that my boyfriend and I try out the brunch menu at London’s most successful vegetarian restaurant, The Gate. Opened in 1989 and now with a successful sister restaurant in Islington, The Gate continues to go from strength to strength and I was keen to see what the fuss was about.
Our visit on Saturday 11th January unfortunately got off to a disappointing start. Once we’d been shown to our table, we were informed that the brunch menu that I had spent a good few days salivating over was apparently not available. We weren’t really given a reason as to why it wasn’t running (but it can’t have been an issue with ingredients being available because it wasn’t an issue with a single dish, it was the entire menu). It did get the meal started off on a negative footing as we had planned for a brunch and kind of felt as though we were being forced to order a la carte as a way of getting us to spend more money.
Once we had digested this information, we went ahead and ordered a couple of americano coffees, and opted for the most brunch-like option on the menu which was the starter sharing platter (£18.50). In all honesty, it was the best vegetarian food I have ever eaten. In total the platter comprised of:
- Two plantain fritters filled with spiced sultanas, carrot, pine nuts and mint, served with sweet chilli coulis and a fennel and pomegranate salsa, and a coriander and lime dressing. These were my man’s first choice on paper but actually ended up being overshadowed by the rest of the selection.
- A slice of aubergine Charlotte, made with roasted tomato compote, goats cheese, mushroom duxcelle and a basil pesto. I expected this to be rich and heavy but instead it was somehow delightfully light and moreish!
- One chermoula halloumi kibi with courgette, pepper, red onion and halloumi cheese marinated in chermoula served with cranberries, almond and buckwheat salad. I love halloumi, so this was always going to be a winner. For this reason it was less of a delight than the rest of the platter as it lacked the surprise element.
- A slice of three onion tart made with leeks and shallots baked with crème fraiche in parmesan pastry, topped with caramelized red onions. This came finished with mixed leaves and herb oil, and was another unexpected winner for me – the onion wasn’t overpowering at all, and despite the crème fraiche and parmesan, again it was light and so deliciously moreish.
- Finally, we dug in to a wasabi potato cake. This came stuffed with ginger, chilli and pan-fried shitake mushrooms, and was served with a heap of pink pickled ginger, mouli and a few blobs of seaweed salsa. I love wasabi but I was afraid that this would be a little overpowering. I needn’t have worried – it was beautifully and delicately seasoned and even my boyfriend, who usually can’t stand wasabi, said this was his favourite!
Despite being initially disappointed about the disappearing brunch menu, the overall quality of the food at The Gate blew us away, and left us excited to come back and try the rest of the menu as soon as possible. It’s not cheap, but it’s so worth it, and is definitely the kind of place that you could dress up nicely for, and enjoy a lovely three course evening meal and a really good bottle of wine. You won’t be disappointed.