I get hungry all the time, in fact i'm actually quite hungry right now, but there aren't many photos and menus that have had me as excited as those at The Gate in Islington; one of the most noted vegetarian restaurants in the city.
Younger sibling to their firmly established Hammersmith restaurant, The Gate in Islington clearly didn't lose any second-child momentum when it comes to being the newest of the culinary clan. A triangular dining space set alongside an extra, elevated area, The Gate isn't a restaurant that necessarily beams with theme. Simple, humble and dotted with classic dining nods in the shape of uncluttered dining tables and a bounty of the building's original features, this Islington dining space has charisma.
The Food and Drink
I was already in and having a cocktail by the time my boyfriend showed up; I wasn't going to linger. Not a chance. Starting on a Vanilla Margarita with quince jelly and agave syrup (£9), and a Jalapeno Margarita with lime and infused tequila, The Gate set pressure on themselves from the off, with these two cocktails alone setting the president for stunning, sourced ingredients.
With an a la carte menu as diverse as the cocktail ingredients, we were surprised how welcoming, and easy our dishes were to pick. Starting with grilled halloumi in chermula and a mustard seed potato cake with spiced baby corn and a mint and coriander chutney (£6), it's clear from the off that rich, colourful bites are the aim of the game. Moreish, accessible and artistic in their presentation, the potato cake smacked with whipped bites while the pomegranate graciously lightened the halloumi.
Jumping onto the mains after that prelude was EASY, and came in the shape of mixed tortillas with sweet potato, feta, goat's cheese and a black bean pepper salsa (£13) alongside their wild mushroom rotolo (£15% with a side of polenta chips. While my main was a rich and honest, British inspired meal that included melt-in-the-mouth thyme infused potatoes and goat's curd, my boyfriend's meal was punchy, bold and deceptively decorative for Mexican street food. Paired with a house wine and a Flaming Sour, The Gate showcased everything that vegetables can do, and all the ways they should be done.
From what I got on the night, The Gate is a busy restaurant on the regular. Not only were they clearly able to take the mounting number of tables with stride, still keeping our experience carefully catered for, they manage to continually pace through dishes with ease, never mounting the pressure on us to order too quickly, and never missing a trick when it came to the next course.
I genuinely don't think i've enjoyed a vegetarian meal in London quite like I did at The Gate. And I genuinely don't think that i'll be able to let this gem slide. Sure to be on my roster for general, non-general and 'it's a Tuesday, TO THE GATE' occasions in the near future, not only should The Gate be on everyone's London list (vegetarian or not), they should be equally as praised for their cocktails as they are for their food; they stand out all on their own.