The Gate restaurants create a unique, fresh and healthy approach to vegetarian dining. Situated on St John Street, a matter of minutes away from Angel tube station, is the second Gate restaurant from Adrian and Michael Daniel who began this venture back in 1989, in Hammersmith.
Just a short walk away from both Angel and King's Cross tube stations, The Gate is located in its own building, and set back from other shops and eateries. It catches the eye with its contemporary white paintwork and large front windows, and as you step inside the room is opened up with high ceilings making the setting seem very spacious. You are met with large cylinder lights that generate a healthy glow within, and the restaurant certainly makes the space work well, with long stretching wall sofas teamed with comfortable cushioned chairs.
It's decorated very stylishly too, with one wall bearing a vintage tile mosaic in direct contrast to the clean whites of the other three walls. The bar is centred in the dining space, boasting a sleek marble surface and a positively comprehensive selection of spirits. The semi-open kitchen is behind the bar, and the stainless steel service areas are on show to make for a pretty lively dining experience. Towards the back of the restaurant a ceiling light means plenty of natural sunlight is distributed through the space.
Owing to its location in this vibrant part of Islington, The Gate attracts a fair few businessmen/women who are after something nourishing at lunch. Of course vegetarian food doesn't necessarily appeal to all, but The Gate manages to remain popular, not least with the growing vegetarian contingent in the capital. The staff are turned out smartly in all-black shirts, trousers and aprons and the olive-green chef whites echo the healthy nature of the place. Waiters could perhaps be better informed; it might take a couple of attempts to find out exactly what the soup of the day is. However despite slight setbacks like this, the staff are attentive and polite.
The Gate offers a variety of styles and sizes of food, with enough flexibility to be perfect for light lunches or hearty dinners. The express lunch option, served between 12-3pm daily, is bursting with tasty dishes. The ever changing soup of the day (£5), on this occasion carrot and ginger, with a smooth texture and box-fresh ingredients create a pretty delicious starter. The penne pasta with chilli, garlic and feta cheese (£7.95) is blended with strong, peppery rocket and stringy, soft Twineham cheese shavings to create an appetising light lunch, with components working impressively together.
The mezze menu consists of small plates of what are very flavoursome nibbles. At one plate for £4, three for £10, or five for £15, the mezze menu is perfect for large groups. The mezze gives you the opportunity to mix dishes such as the chunky herb polenta served with an aioli dip, and curried samosas with a cooling mint yoghurt dip.
The Gate naturally offers plenty of salads too (£5.75 small, £10.50 large) and they are very well executed indeed. The caesar salad is made up of little gem lettuce, capers, avocado, olives and garlic croutons - so is a pretty faithful version. For those feeling more adventurous the pickled fennel, cucumber and quinoa salad is served with goji berries, pomegranate and mizuna leaves; it may sound a little peculiar but it really is a luscious plate of goodness.
There's also a pretty darn enticing dessert menu that even includes a mezze dessert plate at £15, for those whom are having a hard time choosing. One notable pudding is the warm orange and chocolate steamed sponge pudding (£5.50) which is drenched in an enchanting crème Anglaise.
In line with the vibrant, fresh and full of flavour food menu, The Gate provides a stirring cocktail menu. With the choice between sweet or savoury cocktails there's almost certainly something to capture your attention. The Orange Cheesecake (£7.50), consisting of orange juice, cinnamon, gin, mascarpone and Campari, will certainly rouse your taste buds. Beers stocked include Budvar (£3.50) and the award winning UK based, craft-brewed Freedom Lager (£3.60). Wine is offered by the bottle, glass and carafe and there is a comprehensive selection made up of largely Spanish, Italian and French wines. As to be expected thirst quenching juices such as orange, mint and strawberry (£3.90) are readily pressed.
The Last Word
It is clear to see why The Gate has become a popular haunt for not only vegetarians, but non veggies too. Don’t be perturbed by the meat-free theme - the attractive food on offer and effortlessly cool contemporary dining area make for a very pleasing experience indeed. And you might even like it so much you grab yourself a Gate cookbook - available on exit.