The Gate is an open secret known to Hammersmith diners for near three decades, which we are only just starting to let the rest of the capital in on.
But that secret is gaining wider currency, in the literal sense: with a second branch opening in Islington in 2012, and now a new launch in Marylebone in time for Christmas.
The Queen Caroline Street stalwart has been feeding west Londoners on a unique and eclectic style of food for more than 25 years, in what founders Adrian and Michael Daniel like to call 'Indo-Iraqi Jewish' cuisine.
That it has found such a niche is remarkable. But to do it with a completely vegetarian menu – something that always polarises opinion among diners – shows just how strong their offering is.
Michael, the younger of the two brothers, insists part of the recipe for success is maintaining a focus on what The Gate excels at, and ignoring fads or trends in the rest of the trade.
“We just focus on what we do and keep on doing,” he said. “We can’t be distracted by fads unless it’s something like game changing technology which helps our business.”
It is that ethos that has seen the restaurant develop a menu that mixes flavours and cultures like you'd find in few other places.
Listing, for example, a Thai green curry with shiitake mushrooms and aubergine, next to grilled halloumi in Indian spices with chickpea salsa.
There is also a renowned Sunday lunch menu featuring, among others, a root vegetable and goat's cheese wellington, and a slow-roasted leek tart with raw beetroot salad.
Michael is clear on what matters in a menu: “Intense and subtle flavours, unusual and wild ingredients – that's what appeals to us. And presentation is a must, first you taste food with your eyes.”
Hammersmith's discerning palate has taken The Gate to its heart, and Michael believes that doing business in this particular part of London has added to the flavour of what The Gate has to offer.
“I love the people,” he said, “love west Londoners. I’ve been working here for most of my life – 28 years.
“I love being next to the Temple Lodge, which is a sanctuary in itself; and I love walking by the river and going to the riverside studios when they were open.”
Michael says he will never grow tired of 'people looking ecstatically happy when they eat at my restaurants'.
But, now The Gate is open to a whole swathe of London diners, where next for the Daniel brothers?
Here's Michael's vision: “I'm looking forward to cleaner, more sustainable attitudes in the trade. And more transparency in the supply chain. Plus, possibly one or two more restaurants.”
The Gate is well and truly open for business – in Hammersmith and beyond.
For more details, visit: www.thegaterestaurants.com.