london 1020

The Gate (Marylebone)

Marylebone, W1H

As Matt Basile once said, “breakfast is a meal, but brunch is a culture.” In recent years, this so-called brunch culture has been taken on by almost every restaurant, and The Gate in Marylebone is no different. Originally opened in Hammersmith by brothers Michael and Adrian Daniel, and with two further venues in Marylebone and Islington, this small group of all-vegetarian and plant-based restaurants with a focus on healthy eating and sustainability, quickly became a go-to for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Not an easy feat I must say.

Let’s be honest, brunch standards have been set extremely high. With promises of unlimited prosecco and Instagram-worthy aesthetics, Millennials and Gen Zers take brunch very seriously. Having exhausted my usual vegan brunch options, The Gate in Marylebone offered a refined plant-based dining experience in a relaxed setting. Sign. Me. Up.

When entering a restaurant at 11:30am on a Sunday, aka peak brunch hours, you presume it’ll be packed. You expect to see servers pouring out of the kitchen with a continuous stream of French toast and pancakes, anxiously mopping their brow as a party of four without a booking attempts to get a table. The Gate in Marylebone delivered on its promise of being relaxed but it was perhaps too relaxed. At this prime hour, there were only two or three other tables in a fairly decent sized restaurant. I do always feel a bit of a pit in my stomach when I make a booking and arrive at a practically empty establishment, horribly misjudging the atmosphere. But it worked in our favour and we were seated and served quickly.

Brunch should feel busy, exciting, an occasion where you can have a tipple or two with a friend and chat the hours away

Upon first glance at the drinks menu, we made note of the price of coffee (not including a dairy-free milk alternative) and instead chose a non-alcoholic ginger spritz and a pot of fresh lemon and ginger tea. I enjoy the fiery taste of ginger and so my spritz really packed a punch there – think ginger shot but a slightly longer drink. My dining companion was less impressed with her infusion of what was essentially hot water with a few slices of lemon and ginger, preferring her oat cappuccino we went on to get later that day. Still, I enjoyed my choice, even if it was a slight kick in the throat with each sip.

Vegan brunch options tend to be a bit blah so being able to choose from a menu that was exclusively vegetarian and plant-based, with many of the vegetarian options having a vegan alternative, was a real treat. The Gate boasts a carefully curated menu with diverse flavours, influenced by the brothers’ multicultural upbringing. That being said, I went for the Full English as I was craving something savoury and familiar.  As any bruncher knows, you can’t eat beforehand and that particular morning I had come prepared for the occasion, abstaining from eating anything else so I could fully feast on my first proper meal of the day. The tofu scramble was delicious, the bread was thick and pillowy, and they certainly didn’t scrimp on the beans which occupied half the plate. (Something to bear in mind if you’re not a huge fan of beans.) My only contention was the obvious lack of seasoning, and there being no salt and pepper on the table. I also wasn’t given any vegan butter with my toast, but what I lacked in butter was thankfully made up for by the copious amount of beans on offer. Despite her beautifully presented plate of Eggs Benedict, my friend and I weren’t overly wowed by our meals but they were enjoyable to say the least.

The thing that really put a damper on the whole dining experience at The Gate was not the meal itself but the general ambience of the place. For me, brunch should feel busy, exciting, an occasion where you can have a tipple or two with a friend and chat the hours away. Considering the restaurant was far from full, including an empty floor downstairs, my friend and I were seated right next to the upstairs bar by the doors of the kitchen. Not terrible but definitely not necessary considering the number of other free tables. The servers were pleasant and unobtrusive but with a lack of customers to supplement this atmosphere, it left us feeling stilted and uncomfortable, causing us to leave swiftly after we paid the bill only an hour from taking our seats. Perhaps for some, a subdued brunch is just what they’re looking for, but I personally found it eerily quiet for the time and location, which happens to be just off Oxford Street.

Moaning aside, The Gate is still one of the few centrally located restaurants in London with an entirely vegetarian and plant-based offering. From the rest of their menu, it’s clear that they have a real desire to demonstrate that plant-based dining can be sophisticated. But next time, I think I’ll go for a hopefully buzzier dinner service.

The Gate
Food & Drink36
about our grading system

22-24 Seymour Place

April 2023


You Might Also Like