I do feel for the vegetarian/vegan who likes to eat exciting food but aren’t adequately catered for in London’s top restaurants a lot of the time so I see the appeal of places like The Gate filling this void. Although not a vegetarian myself I often find myself dining with friends with various levels of complex dietary requirements who simply are left with very little choice on the menu once the nuts, gluten, dairy and whatever else is taken out. Sadly though it seems the customer is exploited by simple supply and demand as the restaurant is full of people craving a full vegetarian menu but the food itself was adequate in flavour at best, over-priced and over-small (is that even a word?!). Couple this with an ill-informed and ill-attentive staff the only explanation of why I’m sitting in a full restaurant feeling ripped off on a Sunday evening is basic economics 101… there simply can’t be enough good vegetarian restaurants in London so kudos to The Gate.
For starters we ordered a couple of mixed platters (£22 each) for which we thought 2 would be ample to be split between 8 people. Was more like eating a few amuse bouche though. Nothing really stood out as spectacular. The favourite dish there would be the 9 sq cm of Three lentil Pate Terrine.
For mains, personally I’m looking for something creative which I can’t find in other dining establishments so things like Thai curry and Tortillas are out… suddenly I feel like the fussy eater! So opt to share the artichoke hearts served in a vaguely interesting sounding tomato sauce with sour cream (not needed in fact!) and the wild mushroom “rotolo”. To bolster our mains we order a serving of olive mash which sounds like a nice take on simple mash. It would have been nicer if we got more than a teaspoon after splitting a portion between 2 of us though.
To accompany we chose a bottle of Natural wine. On asking the waitress to explain what that means and to recommend one of the four bottles available she was completely stumped. I expected she walked off to find a sommelier to explain the nuances and help with a recommendation but she came back with a four page laminate of what supposedly must be the training notes that weren’t memorised for me to read. Thanks but I’m mid-conversation with friends so will take a blind guess instead. Was actually a fantastic option… some blended grape thing produced in Portugal.
Another couple of favourite responses from our waitress were:
Me – “How often do you change the menu?”
Her – “Every season”
Me – “So only 4 times a year?”
Her – “Well yes there are 4 seasons… duh”
… now if anyone has ever checked a website like eattheseasons, then you’d know that different fruits and vegetables are in season every couple of months and a few things may even last an even shorter time so seems they are missing out by not changing the menu a bit more often.
Over to dessert – Vegan Eton Mess
Me – “How is Chantilly cream vegan?”
Her – “Well that’s what “Chantilly” means, vegan!”
Me to Google – “What is Chantilly cream?”
Google – “Whipped cream is cream that is whipped by a whisk or mixer until it is light and fluffy. Whipped cream is often sweetened and sometimes flavoured with vanilla, and is often called Chantilly cream or crème Chantilly.”
It really would have been pointless to get into an argument about it and we never found out what made it vegan, cashews perhaps from any raw vegan readers out there? Who knows. Miso skint and me still hungry.