A few years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I visited The Gate's original Hammersmith based restaurant for a birthday dinner. I had a lovely meal and remember thinking the food was exciting and reminded me of Greens, my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Manchester.
So when I was invited to review The Gate's new Islington restaurant, I couldn't wait to try it out.
We visited on a Tuesday evening and the restaurant was full. We were seated at a table for two in the window and given the small - just 5 starters and 5 mains - but interesting menu to peruse.
We ordered a Ginger Spritzer (£2.50) and a Carrot, Ginger, Beetroot & Celery Juice (£3.50) and some Olives (£3) to start and the Spritzer was particularly delicious, tasting like a fiery ginger beer but much healthier with soda water.
To start, I decided on the Halloumi Kibi (£6.25) which was char-grilled Halloumi in a tikka marinade, served on a skewer with red onions, peppers and courgettes with chickpea salsa and a pepper coulis. It came presented wonderfully with plenty of salsa and coulis to dip the spiced meaty Halloumi into.
My friend ordered the Carciofini to begin (£8.50) which was a baby artichoke filled with goats cheese, butternut and basil served with a puy lentil salsa and garlic aioli. The goats cheese was perfectly creamy and worked really well with the earthy lentil salsa.
After much deliberation after seeing lots of fabulous plates of food come out of the kitchen, for main course I chose the Asparagus Rotolo (£14.50) and my friend opted for the Cous-Cous Crusted Aubergine (£13.75).
The Asparagus Rotolo was one of the nicest vegetarian main courses I've ever had - char-grilled asparagus, courgettes and red peppers with herb ricotta and goat's cheese rolled in a thyme-infused potato served with salad and sauce vierge. Firstly, the asparagus was the thickest and tastiest asparagus I'd eaten in a long time and secondly, the flavours just worked so well together and the whole meal just melted in my mouth.
The Cous-cous Crusted Aubergine - char-grilled aubergine filled with cream cheese, shallot, almond, pickled lemon, chilli and coriander coated with chermoula Cous-Cous and served with a chickpea & Beetroot salsa and red & green schoog - was presented well and came full of flavour with a good texture between the soft aubergine and crisp Cous-Cous coating.
We were both too full for dessert so finished the meal with an espresso (£1.50) and Cappucino (£2), which was a satisfying end to a delicious meal.
I loved The Gate and the meal was perhaps even nicer than my first visit to the original Hammersmith restaurant a few years ago. The food is inventive, delicious and presented beautifully and while some might think it is perhaps pricey for a meal without meat, it really isn't when you get as good sized and tasty portions as The Gate serves. I will definitely be back.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of The Gate.
The Gate, 370 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NN.