I’m always on the lookout for new restaurants and I was particularly interested in this one as its a vegetarian restaurant. I have been flirting with the idea of being a vegetarian for a while now….well, that is until I hear about a new burger place opening up and then I’m straight down there trying to suss out if they’ve come up with a burger that comes anywhere near Lucky Chip or Mishkin’s! So no…not quite ready to be a vegetarian just yet!
Whenever I find a new restaurant, the first person I tend to email is one of my best friend’s, Paul. He and I are so similar, its a wonder we weren’t twins separated at birth. His beautiful husband Heath is vegetarian so as soon as I read Marina’s review, I immediately emailed Paul and Heath suggesting we try out this new place.
So this afternoon, Paul, Heath and I headed up to Islington for a late lunch at The Gate. A few minutes walk from Angel tube station, The Gate is situated on St John Street, just a stone’s throw from Sadler’s Wells theatre. Its a large, airy restaurant with a wall of beautiful reclaimed Victorian tiling as you walk through the door.
Above the bar hang a row of exposed filament lightbulbs that seem to be making an appearance in every new restaurant these days.
We sat down, ordered some bloody mary’s and a bottle of wine and poured over the menu. Only problem (if you can call it a problem), was that I wanted 3 of the 4 starters. After a lot umming and aahing, I opted for the Carciofini…Baby artichoke filled with goats cheese, leeks and sundried tomato, pine nuts and basil, served with a puy lentil salsa and aioli.
I loved this. I love artichokes anyway but I was a bit nervous that all the flavours might overpower the delicate flavour of the artichoke, but they didn’t. They were beautiful. The crunch of the batter with the soft artichoke and rich goats cheese married beautifully with the punchy taste of the sundried tomatoes and the aioli.
Paul and Heath went for the Halloumi Kibi…Chargrilled halloumi in a tikka marinade, served on a skewer with red onion, peppers and courgettes, chickpea salsa and a pepper coulis…
In Paul’s words, this was “heavenly”. Soft and melting with a hint of curry in the coating which was balanced with the perfectly cooked vegetables and delicious chickpea salad.
For the main course, Paul and I knew immediately what we were going to order as soon as we looked at the menu…Wild mushroom risotto cake. Sautéed girolles, pied bleu, oyster and paris browns, served on a truffled risotto cake, and served with wild mushroom cream sauce and finished with rocket and parmesan shavings…
This was incredible. As soon as the plate hit the table, the intoxicating aroma of truffle filled the air. The rice was creamy yet had a good bite. The mix of the mushrooms gave it a rich, meaty earthiness. Paul’s moaning sounds while he was eating it were almost indecent for a Sunday afternoon! We didn’t speak whilst we were eating this. Paul and I just moaned and stared at each other then moaned again! This was definitely the best risotto I have ever had.
Heath ordered the Corn cake…corn and polenta, pan fried and seasoned with chilli, coriander and thyme, served with roasted baby artichokes, aubergine and oven-dried tomatoes, sweet potato served with chipolte chilli, red pepper and black bean salsa…
Unfortunately, compared to the mushroom risotto Paul and I were moaning over, this was a bit of a disappointment. The corn cake was very bland. It almost didn’t taste of anything at all. So Paul and I kept giving Heath spoonfuls of our risotto to make him feel a bit better. I did try the sweet potato and aubergine and they tasted lovely. Well, they tasted of sweet potato and aubergine….so they should taste lovely!
To accompany our mains we also ordered sweet potato and pomegranate salad with feta cheese, lentils, baby kale, spring onion and mint, served with a tahini and saffron dressing.
This sounded a bit better than it actually tasted. It was nice. But not great.
And some lovely roasted baby potatoes…
For pudding, again the dessert menu looked very tempting and we wanted all 4 desserts. Luckily, they have a meze option so you have a taster of all 4 on one plate. Perfect!
The meze consisted of apple, rhubarb and ginger crumble with crème anglaise…nice but not amazing. I think it needed a bit longer in the oven for a more golden top.
Summer pudding…brioche with compote of summer fruits served with vanilla ice cream…gorgeous. Like summer in your mouth! Incredibly vibrant to look at, and to taste. This was a lovely surprise as I would never have ordered that on its own.
Pressed chocolate and chilli torte served with crème fraiche…a bit grainy and dry.
And my favourite, the lavender brûlée. This was perfect. Creamy, rich, smooth and with the perfect hint of lavender. Lavender can so often be overpowering but this was just right. We all loved this and if we hadn’t been so full by this point, I think we could easily have ordered a couple of full-size portions.
I thoroughly enjoyed eating at The Gate. The food was fantastic and there was so much more on the menu that I wanted to try, I’ll definitely be going back for more. I didn’t miss meat at all and even if there had been meat on the menu, I would still have ordered the dishes I had. As Marina said in her Metro review, The Gate isn’t a good vegetarian restaurant, it’s simply a good restaurant.
The Gate, 370 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NN.
Tel: 0207 278 5483