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16th Mar 2013 9:03am | By Carol Driver
The Gate looks like a ‘normal’ restaurant: welcoming decor; soft lighting humming from low-hung lamps above dark-wooden tables; a large bar area; and the staff are friendly.
It’s buzzing on a bitterly cold Wednesday night, but that’s not too unusual.
The other diners look pretty normal as well.
But something’s not quite ... ah, right, that’s what’s different – The Gate is a meat-free zone.
It thrives on serving a vegetarian and vegan menu, and is London’s most successful veggie restaurant having opened its first branch in Hammersmith in 1989. And there’s not a vegetarian lasagne in sight ...
The grub I opt for the tasty Indo-Iraqi potato cake, filled with Indian-spiced baby corn, courgettes, carrots and served with a tamarind sauce and chutney.
Across the table, my friend’s carciofini – baby artichoke filled with wild mushroom with puy lentil salsa – arrives also looking like a colourful work of art.
Both get the thumbs up.
Next are crispy aubergine schnitzels, layered with tangy apple wood-smoked cheddar, drizzled with fresh basil pesto and served with soft potato dauphinoise, salty pan-fried kale and finished with creamy horseradish sauce.
My friend orders the beetroot ravioli, filled with artichoke, dolcelatte, basil and pine nuts and pan-fried with kale and served with puy lentil salsa.
The only criticism is the pasta’s a little too al dente.
On to dessert, which we’re far too full for but opt for the mezze anyway, which is a selection including sticky toffee and date pudding, black cherry and chocolate cheesecake, and apple, cinnamon and blackberry crumble. All divine.
Behind the bar Try the Orange Cheesecake – juice, cinnamon, gin, mascarpone and Campari – cocktail. Amazing. Also a great selection of wines and beers.
Bill please Starters from £5.75; mains from £12.50; desserts from £3; fresh juices from £3.30; cocktails from £7.50; champagne from £6; wine £4.50/ £16.75 a glass/ bottle.
Verdict A judge at the London Restaurant Festival Awards summed it up nicely: “The Gate isn’t a good vegetarian restaurant; it’s simply a good restaurant.”
370 St John Street, EC1V 4NN
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