The Gate Marylebone
22-24 Seymour Place,
020 7724 6656
Mon-Thur 8am-10.30pm, Fri 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-9pm
Casual vegetarian restaurant with eclectic influences including French, Italian, Indian, Arabic and Jewish. The menu covers light starters such as salads and soups through to more substantial main courses, including risotto and tortilla.
The Gate restaurants are hugely popular with London’s vegetarians and vegans, with many considering them some of the best veggie restaurants in London. The image of veggie joints has suffered terribly under the shadow of a thousand failed nut roasts and watery lentil stews but places like The Gate are doing a fine job of showing us otherwise.
On a Monday lunch time this Seymour Place branch is filled with locals discussing business, and snippets of thrilling conversation are overheard as deals close and backs are slapped. It’s a great spot for sitting back and people watching.
The plates are as lively as the clientele, and a starter of miso aubergine is powerfully flavoured; rich, salty and sweet. This classic Japanese preparation sees the aubergine scored, brushed with a sweetened miso mixture and grilled, resulting in an intensely flavoured vegetable, almost meaty in it savouriness (see what they did there).
A main course of tortillas is similarly punchy and makes up in taste for what some might find amusing in presentation (they arrive standing to attention like Neolithic rocks). Toasted tortillas are filled with a rich bean and squash mixture, with sweet corn, guacamole, and a green tomato and sweet pepper salsa. Sour cream is optional and without it, the dish is, astonishingly vegan. Why astonishing? Well, it tastes so good. An arrangement which sounds like vegetable overkill on paper is pulled off to excellent effect.
Desserts cover all bases, with a vegan option (vegan cheesecake), banoffee pie, sticky toffee pudding and apple tart all making an appearance. There’s also an option to try a trio of desserts, which we’re told is almost a full-size portion of each – we’ll leave that one with you.
Vegetarian food can sometimes feel worthy but The Gate manages to avoid such clichés. This is simple, crowd-pleasing veggie food which doesn’t feel like a punishment for not eating meat. There’s not even a veggie sausage in sight.