When I think of veggie food; I used to think of rabbit leaves and Quorn. How misguided was I?
The Grain Store had already shown me that there was life beyond my beloved steak or burger but there's another veggie restaurant in London which was hoping to tempt me to the green side.
Welcome to The Gate.
Owned and run by Michael and Oliver Daniel since 1989, it's arguably London's most successful veggie restaurant, but their menu aims to please meat-eaters too rather than simply catering for the converted.
When the sun goes down, it has a cosy feel with candles lit at every table and a warm glow from the industrious bulbs which hang from overhead.
And the menu? Well no surprise the offering is completely meat-free. Instead there's a wide selection of dishes with influences from Indian, Arabian and Jewish cuisines - and not a single meat substitute in sight.
We started with a generous helping of plump green and black olives (£3)...
Starters-wise, there's plenty of choice but the slow-roasted leek tart (£6) was a favourite. A sizeable portion which would be perfect for lunch or as a light dinner, it was tightly packed with leek, Swiss cheese and a fresh salad of raw beetroot and sprouting lentils.
The Miso Glazed aubergine (£8) was a dish I wanted to love. I really did. Every review I've read raved and sung about it but for me it was just too sickly and the texture mushy - even with the crunch from the peanuts.
It's the first time I've tried Miso Glazed Aubergine so I can't compare it to others but I'm thinking perhaps it's just not one for me.
The wild mushroom chipotle (£16) fared far better in comparison. A mix of foraged wild mushrooms, sauteed in a rich chipotle and sour cream sauce and served on a bed of braised wild rice and rocket.
Not too spicy but with a nice heat which helped bring together the earthy, smokey flavour of the mushrooms leading you to totally forgot you aren't eating a beef chilli.The Thai Green Curry (£13) is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes and with good reason. I personally had no love for the lumps of tofu but the generous servings of aubergine, mushroom, courgette and corn helped to bulk the dish in the absence of the traditional chicken.
I really love the flavours of Thai food so this dish for me really was a stand-out winner.
Because a) we're greedy and b) we naively thought not eating meat would leave us feeling hungry, we decided to order some additional side dishes to bolster our meal.
The sweet potato wedges (£4) were lightly spiced and served with a garlic and chive sour cream..
It might not satisfy the hardened meat eaters among us (cough cough my boyfriend) but it has definitely showed me that there's so much more to meat-free cooking than salad leaves.
Oh - and if that doesn't persuade you, the dessert menu is seriously impressive. We didn't have room to try any but there's a fantastic selection on offer including eton mess, honeycomb cheesecake and banoffe pie - who said meat eaters have all the fun, hey?
51 Queen Caroline St,
Hammersmith W6 9QL
* We dined as guests of The Gate
Our food was complimentary and all opinions my own