In recent years, vegetarian food has had something of a renaissance. No longer associated with sad tofu or cardboardy meat substitutes, tons of tasty dishes where veg is the star of the show have been appearing on restaurant menus, foodie blogs and in dedicated recipe books.
And what with a plethora of vegetarian and vegan restaurants having opened in London over the past few years, I was most intrigued when The Gate was brought to my attention recently, as I'd never heard of it.
With two locations - Hammersmith and Islington - The Gate was established back in 1989, and yet it seems to be relatively under-the-radar when it comes to London's healthy foodie scene.
Think of veggie restaurants in the capital and Mildred's comes to my mind initially (totally go if you haven't already). But after my visit to The Gate last week, I can't for the life of me understand why it's less well-known.
As it was Thursday evening (or Thursyay, amiright?) and my dinner date Jenny and I hadn't seen each other for weeks, we kicked things off with prosecco. (Lol as if we wouldn't have done that regardless of the day of the week or if we'd seen each other the day before).
I thought the starter menu was particularly enticing and genuinely wanted to eat everything, so I was thrilled to find the option of a mezze platter for two to share.
We had miso-glazed aubergine, three-onion tart, fabulous red onion chutney with crostini...
Then there was three lentil pate terrine, couscous and feta fritters, and grilled halloumi in Indian spices.
I really liked the texture of the couscous fritters and the (I wanna say) pumpkin puree they came with, but alas there was some coriander in there which as we all know is a deal-breaker for me.
And the terrine was really interesting, unlike anything I've ever had before, although Jenny found one section a bit too olive-y.
We moved on to a carafe of Sauv (love a carafe and love that there was the option - it was jut the right amount of wine) and were soon served our once again beautifully-presented mains.
My goodness, it was fantastic. There were so many big flavours and textures going on that all married together so well: smooth celeriac puree, crunchy crisps, soft butternut squash and crisp apple. It was wonderful.
Jenny had the aubergine teriyaki:
It was very good. The portion was big and there was a lot of aubergine, but veggies are good for you so yay for lots!
And just to make 100% sure we ticked off our five-a-day, Jen and I shared a couple of sides: roasted spiced sweet potato wedges with garlic and chive sour cream...
And then cauliflower with smoked paprika tahini, pinenuts and pomegranate.
And because man cannot live on vegetables alone, Jenny and I figured we definitely had room for a spot of pudding. And boy, is the menu good.
For Jen, the white chocolate sphere...
Naturally, I had a mouthful (or four), and unsurprisingly, it was utterly scrumptious. So pretty too!
And because I was so intrigued by the prospect, I chose the vegan cheesecake.
With its nutty cashew base, creamy filling (apparently made from chickpeas *gasp*) and spiced cranberry topping, I loved it.
Maybe it was the cranberries, but something about the cheesecake tasted festive to me, and hey, I enjoyed that immensely.
In fact, I'd enjoyed the whole evening and everything about The Gate. It's creative, high-quality, beautiful-presented and utterly delicious vegetarian fare, proving that you absolutely don't need meat for a satisfying meal.
I'll definitely be back!
Jenny and I were guests at The Gate but all opinions are honest, promise.