Tuesday 28 June 2016

The Gate, Islington

Last week we celebrated my husbands birthday and as a little treat I decided to book us a table at The Gate in Islington, London. Prior to this I had been canvassing some views on Twitter as to where to go for a celebratory meal in London and The Gate seemed a popular choice amongst a few of my followers. It's also somewhere I have looked at going in the past so my decision was quickly made for me.

The Gate is an award winning purely vegetarian and vegan restaurant which also has a sibling restaurant in Hammersmith. As we were dining early we had no issue getting a table but from what I understand booking is highly recommended, especially at the weekend.  

The restaurant itself occupies a pretty big and open space. When we first walked in it looked quite impressive but I have to say, and after a closer look, it seemed to be a little rough around the edges and in need of some TLC in places. The table we were seated at was comfortable but it was close to the kitchen and we found the noise of the banter and swearing from the kitchen staff quite distracting! We were also sat next to a window which seemed to be a popular area for a number of flies to navigate which was again a bit annoying and not the kind of ambience I had hoped for a birthday meal. On reflection we should have maybe asked to be moved but by the time we realised our starters had been served and we couldn't really be bothered to move. 

When presented with the menu I was pleased to see that everything was really well labelled and there seemed to be a pretty equal choice of both veggie and vegan dishes to choose from as well as gluten free options. The drinks list was also labelled which is great and not something I happen to see very often. 

For an appetiser we opted to share some olives and focaccia bread which was served with some black olive tapenade. This was vegan friendly and very tasty! On reflection though I wish i'd asked for some balsamic vinegar and olive oil as another option for dunking our bread into. 

For our starters we decided to share the mezze plate which came with a lentil terrine with toasted bread and caramelised onions, asparagus, a slice of leek tart and a tomato and mozzarella salad with pesto. Although this was a decent sized starter to share I felt the price of it at £22 was a little steep for what we actually received. The presentation was really nice and the food was tasty, especially the lentil pate which I really loved. This sharing plate also worked really well for us as my husband is vegetarian so he didn't feel that he missed out in anyway and he got his cheese fix.  

For my main I chose the vegan beetroot tart which was again presented beautifully. As you can see from the photo above this dish contained a mix of different beetroot cooked in various ways. It was quite an original dish and not like anything i'd tried before. I did however find it to be a little bit sickly towards the end. 

I also went for a side of sweet potato wedges with my main and despite the fact that they looked very tempting they were a bit of a let down as they were served luke warm and a little undercooked.

My husband went for the vegetarian sweetcorn fritter which was served with roasted vegetables, guacamole and black beans. I really liked the sound of this dish on the menu as it seemed to imply a Mexican theme but in reality it was sadly a little lacklustre and needed a lot more flavour. But again the presentation was elegant. 

For my dessert I chose a pineapple and coconut parfait. These are two of my favourite flavour combinations so I really enjoyed the dessert and I could have easily eaten a second portion! It was also a really light and refreshing option for a humid June day.  

I didn't make a point of telling the restaurant staff that it was my husbands birthday on arrival so I was impressed to see that they had remembered that information from my original booking and they presented him his honeycomb cheesecake with a candle. Again the dessert was a hit with him too and we both felt that it was perhaps the best part of our meal.   

The Gate has left me with really mixed feelings.... On the one hand it appears to be ticking all the boxes and it all sounded superb on the surface but in reality we sadly wasn't left very wowed. If someone was to ask me what it was like I would probably reply with a simple 'Ok'. Maybe we have been spoilt recently with all of the amazing plant based food we have been enjoying which has perhaps raised our bar of standards. I just felt that the food was lacking something to make me want to keep going back. I would also have to say that I felt it was quite overpriced for what it was with this entire meal ringing in at just shy of £100. 

All of that being said I do feel that if this experience was in my home area of Essex I may have been more praising. I just feel that the standards when in London are much higher and we have eaten at some really amazing restaurants there which I know we enjoyed much more (Tibits, Ethos & Mildreds to name a few!). 

Based on our first time experience at The Gate i'm not sure we would choose to return again. I really don't like writing negative reviews at all, especially when it's a vegetarian restaurant with vegan offerings as I feel like that alone makes them a great place, but at the same time I also have to be honest and not mislead anyone. 

I'd love to know your thoughts....
Have you been to The Gate before? 
What did you think?
Please comment below and let us know!  

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