The Gate restaurant, St John’s Wood
- Credit: Archant
The fourth branch of award-laden veggie eaterie has opened in NW8 with an 80percent vegan menu and vegan wines
There are those I suspect who will never be converted to plant-based dining.
'I feel full but not satisfied' is the moan of die-hard carnivores like my partner.
But if anywhere might inch him towards acceptance of what everyone else seems to recognise as the healthy eco-friendly future, it's The Gate. Their tagline 'plant-based pioneers est 1989' marks them out as early adopters of the veggie and vegan diet that's now so mainstream, even my granny is onto it.
After winning loyal fans and awards for their Hammersmith restaurant, Indo-Iraqi brothers Michael and Adrian Daniel have pushed on into Islington and Marylebone.
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Now, as a mark of how veganism is marching onwards, St John's Wood's has become their fourth neighbourhood restaurant.
Open from morning coffee to dinner, this cleanly-designed, restful space offers great quality, thoughtfully-presented sustainable ingredients and vegan wines with a menu that's 80percent vegan.
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The flavours borrow from around the world - from a miso glazed aubergine, or Moroccan couscous and feta fritters, to an Indian potato chaat - with prices ranging from £7.50 starters to £16.50 mains.
My partner started with the soup of the day, a thick roasted pepper broth that didn't have the depth of flavour he was hoping for, and was slightly bitter -oh dear not converted yet then. Meanwhile my onion tart had a light, short pastry and pleasant sweetness to the root vegetables, with a pea shoot garnish. The menu is seasonal, so dishes like grilled asparagus weren't yet on the bill, but are now. Bestsellers include a red Thai curry with tofu and sweet potato, and a beetroot cheese burger with smoked tomato relish and cheddar.
Luckily my partner's augergine schnitzel, (think a glorified aubergine parmigiana) - with basil pesto, roasted peppers and smoked cheddar with a crunchy breadcrumb topping was delicious.
And my vegan tortillas with guacamole and a smooth black bean and chipotle sauce were super filling and tasty - the only caveat that the sweet potato stuffing was a bit carb-on-carb - a crunchy/chewy texture would have served it better, although you could always care and share them - perhaps with the wild mushroom risotto cake, or ricotta and root veg rotolo. There are several tempting dairy-free desserts such as tiramisu or prune and apple crumble, but we opted for a light sticky toffee pudding with a rather solid salted caramel ice cream, that we polished off in seconds.
The whole operation is slick, minimal and chilled and it was already popular with locals. I predict a bright future, even if I caught my partner eying up The Chicken Shop opposite on the way home. Next time I'll take my granny.
The Gate is at 87 Allitsen Road St John's Wood. 020 7833 0401 thegaterestaurants.com