The Gate Islington

370 St John Street, London, England, EC1V 4NN, United Kingdom

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This restaurant is the younger sister of the long established Gate in Hammersmith, and opened in June 2012, a short walk from Sadlers Wells Theatre. Like its sibling, it offers vegetarian food drawn from a range of cuisines. The dining room has a casual feel, with wooden floors and no tablecloths, and is quite noisy. One design flaw is the lack of a double door, which means a gust of wind blows through the dining room every time someone enters or leaves; a minor distraction in July, but I predict this feature will be less popular with customers in February.

Starters were priced between £5 and £7.50 (though bread is a hefty £3 extra), main courses were £13.25 - £15.50 and desserts mostly £5 or £5.50; side salads and vegetables were £3 - £4.50. The wine list has around 30 selections, ranging in price from £16.25 to £32, and although there were plenty of French wines there were a smattering of choices from elsewhere. Examples were casa Azul 2011 Sauvignon Blanc for £19.50 compared to a retail price of £6, Andre Scherrer Riesling Reserve Particulaire 2012 at £27 for a wine you can find in a shop for around a tenner, and Carmel Ridge red from Israel at £29.50 for a wine that you can purchase for £10 in a shop.

Carciofini consisted of baby artichokes filled with goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, leeks, pine nuts and basil, served with aioli and a puy lentil salsa. This was very pleasant, the salsa lifting the dish a little, the artichokes prepared well (12/20). This was better than a Thai salad of green mango and papaya, with bean sprouts, mouli, mange-tout, pak choi, spring onion and baby corn with a dressing of coriander, mint and Thai spices with crushed peanuts. This was essentially the classic Thai salad som tam, and its dressing lacked the chilli bite that characterises this dish. As it stood it was just some salad with a dull dressing (11/20).

Asparagus rotolo consisted of char-grilled asparagus, red peppers and courgettes with herb ricotta and goat cheese. This had been rolled in a layer of potato infused with thyme, served with sauce vierge. I liked this dish, the red bell pepper in particular carefully cooked, the seasoning quite good (13/20).   Wild mushroom risotto cake was a regular risotto shaped into a cake shape and topped with salad and mushrooms, most of which tasted like button mushrooms to me. The risotto was a little on the firm side and the mushrooms had little flavour (11/20).

Apple and rhubarb crumble had quite good crumble and a pleasant hint of ginger, but suffered from the rhubarb being in over-large chunks, and overall lacking sufficient acidic bite (12/20). Summer pudding did not have enough fruit, and the fruit juice had not been allowed to properly soak through the bread, leaving white bread patches. Moreover the bread was too hard, though the fruit was decent enough (12/20 if I am kind).

Service was functional rather than particularly friendly, though the waiters remembered who had ordered what, a task that defeats a surprising number of restaurants. The bill came to £36 a head, with just a beer apiece, for three courses and a side salad. Overall The Gate is a decent enough vegetarian restaurant, the dishes quite interesting but having rather patchy execution, though to be fair it is not very expensive.



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