Islington’s vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, makes Luxurious Magazine’s Henry McIntosh reconsider a lifetime of culinary habits
Entrepreneur Naveen Jain once tweeted that he drives a Ferrari, doesn’t eat meat and is therefore, doing more for the environment than Tesla owners.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t drive a Ferrari or a Tesla and I’ve never contemplated giving up meat. The latter might change if I could eat at Islington’s premier vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, every night.
Vegetarian restaurants are sometimes stuck with the stigma that they’re the second class citizens of the culinary world. Seen as a choice no meat-eater would entertain when deciding on where to spend an evening dining out.
It’s a thought process The Gate challenges and, quite frankly, tramples all over and that’s written by a carnivore, who had never visited a vegetarian restaurant before and had never, before now, harboured any inclination to do so. Ignorant as that may be, I’m a reformed character and all it took was one visit to The Gate.
Simply stepping inside the restaurant you realise that The Gate is all about the food. The Decor is free from overly presumptuous garnishes. Instead, you are greeted by an airy , high-ceilinged room with low-hanging filament lighting glowing over the tables and bar. A warm and welcoming atmosphere permeated the expansive room, helped by a full-house and cheery waiting staff. Who are more than happy to walk you through the menu’s ‘popular’ items if, like me, you feel the need for some direction.
When you take in the drinks menu, there’s ripe opportunity for an adventurous experience. Whether you like to play roulette with the taste of your wine by trying a natural, unfiltered bottle or are excited by a fun cocktail menu then The Gate has something to offer you. It’s also good for those who like to play it a little safer, with a decent selection of wines and beers.
The reason for The Gate’s popularity isn’t surprising once you’ve had the opportunity to eat there. The only problem you’ll encounter is deciding what to have. That’s not because the menu is overly extensive, it’s more to do with how enticing each option sounds.
The flavour in the menu originates from the Middle Eastern predilection of The Gate’s founders, brothers Michael and Adrian Daniel, whose Indo-Iraqi heritage lends inspiration to a tantalising array of dishes.
The starters include a mouth-watering selection of delicacies from the miso glazed aubergine with crushed cashews, coriander and a ponzu sauce to the buffalo mozzarella served up with grilled courgettes, marjoram oil and candied lemon. Ignoring the waiters directives to such ‘popular’ choices we delved into three lentil terrine pate and grilled halloumi in chermula.
The red lentil, paprika-infused, offering slathered across the homemade pumpernickel bread and topped with piccalilli is a particular triumph of flavour whilst the halloumi, delivered with freekeh, mint, pomegranate and harissa, was the perfect complement to a warm evening in the capital.
With the main course I did go with the waiter’s suggestion and I urge you to try it too. Aubergine schnitzel delicately balanced atop roasted red peppers, plum tomatoes and some of the best dauphinoise potatoes I’ve had the pleasure to try.
Poised over horseradish cream sauce, I stopped short of devouring the plate too before vigilantly watching my guest, eager for any sign of a full stomach. Thankfully, I called writer’s right and delved into their Roast Beetroot Tart for this article’s sake.
I often find beetroot can overpower dishes with an unnerving acidity, but the balance of the tart was exceptional. The Wensleydale and herb creamed sauce working to create a perfect equilibrium.
When it came to the dessert menu we went for the crème brûlée and the vegan vanilla cheesecake. I’ll admit, I was intrigued by the vegan cheesecake, “I didn’t think they ate dairy” chimed my guest.
They don’t and that’s why, if you pick it because you’re a conventional cheesecake fan, I’d steer clear. If, however, you just like a good dessert then dive right in. Because this cheesecake shouldn’t just be kept for the vegans. Trust me, the prune sauce and crushed hazelnuts will deliver a sumptuous end to your evening.
I’ll finish with the crème brûlée, that’s if you’re still reading and haven’t already jumped on the tube to Angel. The crème brûlée was among the best I’ve had and, as my ever burgeoning waistline will attest, I’ve had a few.
Crack into the perfectly crystallised top and scoop up a piece of rhubarb and ginger jam, savour it, you can thank me later.
It helped cap an end to a seamless evening of food and I couldn’t recommend The Gate highly enough. Meat-eaters, cast aside your aspersions, I dare you to try it. Vegetarians have hidden this from us for too long.
Where & How- The Gate, Islington
Nearest tube: Angel
Book a table: https://thegaterestaurants.com/
Some of the delicious offerings at the Gate Vegetarian Restaurant