Then for over a year, we eagerly awaited the re-opening of the original (and much more local to us) Hammersmith branch. For months on end the restaurant’s website taunted us with promises of the forthcoming re-opening until finally, September 2013 was officially locked in. Whaddaya know… Just in time for my birthday! How handy!
So, Wednesday night we excitedly headed to Hammersmith to try out the new-look restaurant in our neck of the woods.
Slightly hidden away through – surprise, surprise – a gate just a short walk from the bustling broadway of Hammersmith, the restaurant immediately felt more intimate and relaxed than its ultra-trendy sister venue in Islington. That’s not to say it’s cramped or shabby; not even remotely! With wood-panelled walls, dark furniture and symmetric boxed shelving behind the bar, the interior is modern yet comfortable and although a much smaller space, the tables are set further apart and felt less intrusive than I recall the seating being in the Islington branch. Matt’s preference was the more industrial-edged, open design of Islington, whereas I was more partial to the homely, Italian-inspired feel of Hammersmith. Something for everyone then!
We had a slightly early booking at 7pm and ours was only the third table to be occupied so we wondered for a moment if the re-opening was going a little slower than expected. That couldn’t have been further from the truth… The surrounding tables filled swiftly over the next half hour or so and by the time we left, the restaurant was almost at capacity. Not bad for a mid-week evening!
Despite the fact that the restaurant was heaving, it was not obnoxiously loud, service was efficient and friendly and we never felt rushed or hassled as is often the case in busy eateries.
After much deliberation over the menu (always so hard when you can actually eat anything in front of you), I settled on the Pumpkin & Potato Cake to start and Matt went for the stuffed Courgette Flower. One of the main things I remembered about our last visit to The Gate was the beautiful presentation of the dishes and Hammersmith did not disappoint. Both starters looked gorgeous and tasted even better!
The mains were an even tougher choice; I couldn’t decide between the Beetroot Cannelloni (because beetroot anything is hard for me to pass up) and the Spicy Corn and Polenta Cake (because it just sounded so intriguing). After concluding that I couldn’t really have a ‘cake’ for both courses, we decided to get our polenta fix via a side of Chunky Herb Polenta Chips. Compromise or just bonus?!
My bright pink cannelloni, which was stuffed with goat’s cheese, artichokes, hazelnuts, and pesto was creamy and delicious with the nutty flavours perfectly balancing out the sweetness of the beetroot and goat’s cheese.
The polenta chips, which neither of us had had before but I’d been wanting to try out for ages, were amazing! Softer than a regular chip but still satisfying crunchy on the outside, they were perfectly accompanied by garlic aioli (which I’m still convinced had avocado in it – yum!).
Matt opted for the Root Vegetable Rotolo, which was the autumnul version of the Asparagus Rotolo that I was so pleased with last time. Matt’s version was filled with swede, parsnip and celeraic and topped with sweet dolcelatte cheese. Served over green beans with sweet potato crisps, it was pretty darn good.
After over-indulging on starters and mains (hey, it was my birthday!) there was no way either of us could possibly have fit a dessert in. I’m actually not a massive dessert fan but The Gate’s range, which included Orange Marmalade & Whisky Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding and Apple & Plum Crumble with Vanilla Anglaise, looked pretty heavenly!
Vegans are well catered for with four of the six main options being vegan or veganisable, along with a good selection of the starters, sides and desserts.
Our bill for the meal (including service) was just shy of £70 (for two starters, two mains, one side and one of the more moderately priced bottles of wine). Bit over our usual meal budget but birthday splurges are allowed (especially when you have gift vouchers!) and we didn’t exactly hold back on our ordering, so it could definitely be done cheaper if preferred! However, with food that good and the atmosphere and service to match, it’s well-worth the price.