Hammersmith in West London is completely out of my culinary comfort zone. Apart from the budget-breaking River Cafe I am not aware of any decent restaurants in this area and River Cafe is certainly too posh for a quick pre-theatre bite.
When researching for a restaurant close to the Lyric Hammersmith, I stumbled upon this review of The Gate on Time Out. A vegetarian restaurant that gets 5 out of 5 stars? Intriguing. Even though I am certainly NOT a vegetarian, I do very much enjoy pure vegetable dishes if they are well done.
Our attempts to visit The Gate were hindered by the fact we couldn’t find it. Even though we had the exact addressÂ we kept running up and down Queen Caroline Street which almost ended up in a relationship crisis. Maybe The Gate would consider putting a sign up, that people can actually see? I am sure this would help in getting customers.
Anyway, we did find it in the end and I was glad that we did not give up, or break up for that matter. As far as non-Asian vegetarian restaurants go, The Gate is as good as it gets. You will certainly be disappointed if you expect oddly dressed hippies wearing birkenstocks, you will search in vain for the obligatory falafel on the menu and no, the waitresses don’t have dreadlocks. There is a tree painted onto the wall though.
I loved the bright room with the high ceiling and large windows. It could however do with a little refurbishment. Overall the place looks a bit run down, which was apparent when we arrived and it was still light, and less obvious during the course of the evening. And have I mentioned that a big sign in front would be a really good idea?
I loved both of our the starters. The sweet potato and pomegranate salad (5.75) is certainly very good for you. The tangy pomegranate and the sweet potatoes were beautifully complemented byÂ the fresh green leaves andÂ lentils. The sauce contained small pieces of goat’s cheese, mint and tahini and this is certainly a dish I could eat every day should I attempt a vegetarian diet in the near future. Less healthy but nonetheless delicious was the Wild Mushroom Gallet (7.50). It is the time of the year to eat wild mushrooms, particularly if they are that impeccably prepared. The light puff pastry was generously topped by aromaticÂ sauteed wild mushrooms flavoured with thyme and onions. The sweet onion jam it was served with offered a beautiful contrast.
The mains were not that cheap considering that there is no expensive meat or fish involved.The dishes are prepared with the freshest ingredients and with a lot of attention to detail and as you don’t miss the meat at all, this seems fair enough. The Thali (12.50) was thoroughly enjoyable. A light and flavoursome vegetable curry with aubergine and cauliflower came with fluffy pita bread and nicely cooked basmati rice. Delicious were the two different coriander raijtas – one sweet, the other one herby.
The least convincing of all dishes was the Aubergine Teriyaki (13.75). It was bland and could have done with some sauce. It actually didn’t taste of teriyaki very much. The aubergine was prepared almost like meat, which was lovely and with a bit more seasoning this dish would have certainly hit the mark.
Value for Money: 7/10
Chances of Returning: depends on what’s playing at the Lyric
Verdict: makes the thought of beingÂ a vegetarian certainly less daunting!