- Restaurant Name: The Gate
- Total Spending: £40
- Dining Duration: 1 hr 15 min (7:30 – 8:45)
- Awkward Level: 3/5
- Seating: Single table near the entrance
- Interaction with waiters/waitress: 5 times
How I got here?
After a long intensive week, I decided to treat myself with some good food. However, since I don't have much energy left and the weekends are most busiest in central London (referred to my failed experience of solo dining), I went online to find a place near my house that I'd like to try out.
I came across this vegetarian restaurant called The Gate, which was only less than 10 minute walk from my place. If you didn't specifically look for the place, you'd definitely miss it. It's hidden in a small courtyard, and there is another hotel next to it. Once I entered the door, went upstairs, it's completely a 'new world'. The spaciousness was a complete contrast of what I just went through- the high ceiling and big windows with sun shining through, it was absolutely gorgeous. The waitress came greeted me quickly, and I asked "Is there a table for one?" She checked the computer system, and then pointed to the table right next to the entrance, "Is this one okay?" "Yup, thank you."
Perhaps, it was my first solo dining experience for this experiment (I've dined alone many times before but not for the project), I was a bit nervous about filming/documenting the process and being the weird person filming myself eating. I was really self-conscious, and kept on observing other people and see if I was receiving any nasty looks. I was also concerned whether other people will get offended by me filming, since they will be in the shot as well. My seat was great in a sense that I can get the entire view of the restaurant but at the same time it was also slightly weird, because some people are directly in the shot. There was one elder man (around 50-60ish), who is sitting directly across the room from me. He was also alone, and once in awhile he would speak to the waitress, and I kept on thinking at certain point he would ask the waitress to tell me to turn off my video. I swear it was so awkward that if I look straight up, we would make eye contact and the gopro kept on blinking light as it was recording, which I was sure that he had noticed that I was filming...ahhh. It was so nerve-racking that I was playing with my rings.
So, I decided to give myself some grace, and broke the rule of the research principle – I allowed myself to use mobile phone. I dove into the world of cyber space, which allows me to avoid any possible eye contact. I must admit, after picking up my phone, I felt so much more relieved. However, I am still interested in seeing whom am I surrounded by, so I switched between online/offline mode, and looked around the room, and then go back to my phone, and vice versa.
I got to the resturant around 7:30, it was already fully packed. The diners in the room are generally older than my age. There are couples, friends, families, quite a good mix of variety. People dress quite nicely as well. There wasn't any music playing, but just hearing people chatting and laughing. I felt that it was actually quite loud, or maybe I was too quiet (?)
Mmm, what to get?
As usual, you get asked what you'd like to drink, so I asked for sparkling water to start with. Looking at the menu, everything seems so tasty! I ordered the Wild Mushroom Rotolo, with Sweet Potatos on the side, and a glass of Rose (Pinot Grigio Blush). While waiting for the dish, there was constant delicious smell flowing around in the room. I was so starving and wished there was something to munch on. Or at least something to do to distract my attention. Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone to speak to, so I continued people watching and 'sometimes' on the phone.
The food arrived not long after, and it was beautifully plated. Truth to be told, it was beyond my expectation! The taste of it was even...mmm, so good. The mixed texture between the mushrooms, along with the sauce and crispy sweet potatos on the top. Before finishing it, I already knew that I would definitely come back again for this. The sweet potato wedges are also amazing – usually I am not a fan of sour cream, but theirs is not too heavy and added that tanginess to the potatos.
Besides taking pictures of the food, I didn't use the phone the whole time I was eating. Completely focusing on the food itself, allowing me to really savor the taste of every bite. I also noticed that my eating was more 'elegant' comparing at home, when I sometimes just stuff my mouth with big bites. At the restaurant, I would cut the food into small pieces, and sometimes even smaller than it needs to be. When the peel fell off the sweet potatos, I even wrapped it around the fleshy part to make it look nicely before I ate it. Why? Maybe I think people are watching? Or just simply because I'm in a nice restaurant and there are certain expected manners...I'm not too sure.
It didn't took me long until I finished, but I on purposely left a bit, so I would have room for dessert. I got the vegan vanilla cheesecake with hazelnuts. It wasn't bad, but not as good as the main.
The whole entire dining experience was pleasant, and towards the end of it, I didn't really care about whether people are watching me filming or not. I actually got more comfortable and at ease. There were 3 waitress who I spoke to throughout the whole evening, two were really friendly and attentive, one was a bit 'nuetrual'. I didn't really have to raise my hand to ask for assistance, they would come and ask every once in awhile if I needed anything. When I was paying for the check, I had a small chat with one of the waitress. She was very enthusiastic when I asked about the restaurant. Can't believe that the place has been over 25 years! She also told me about the seasonal menus as well as their 'Sunday Roast' (veggies only, haha). Lastly, before I left, even the waiters/waitresses who didn't serve me tonight, all said "thank you" with very sincere and friendly smile.
As I walked out, I was happily satisfied. Not only for the delicious food, but also a warm heart. Thank you, The Gate. Will definitely be back.
51 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith W6 9QL
020 8748 6932