London is an easy city to be vegetarian in. I don’t struggle to find vegetarian-friendly restaurants to eat out at with friends and there is usually at least two or three veggie options on the menu; not exactly spoilt for choice but enough that I don’t have to order a falafel burger or mushroom risotto every single time.
But is an entirely different kettle of fish (or kettle of beans, as it were) when going to an exclusively vegetarian restaurant. Heaven.
On Saturday night, I went to The Gate in Islington. To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. This place was a-maz-ing! I could eat absolutely anything on the menu. Here, the ‘V’ stands for vegan. Here, I perved on every single dish that came out of the open kitchen. Here, my vegetarian friend, Matt and I didn’t have to resort to getting the same thing from a minimal menu – we ate both different starters and different mains and taste-tested one another’s choices. A luxury I rarely get to enjoy!
The restaurant itself was much bigger than I’d expected but from the time we got there (7.45pm) to the time we left (around 10pm), it was almost full. The decor is modern and minimalistic with lots of black and white furnishings and industrial lampshades and there is a small cocktail bar that I must be sure to sample next time. My only slight criticisms would be that the tables are a little too close together and it was quite noisy in a busy cafeteria kind of way. Fine for dinner with friends but I wouldn’t want to go there on a date. But when they serve such amazing food, it’s a small price to pay.
I already knew what I wanted before I got there, which probably took the fun out of it a little but when I found out that’s where I was headed on the weekend, I just couldn’t wait. I am obsessed with halloumi, so I couldn’t pass up the Halloumi Kibi for my starter. A delicious skewer of char-grilled halloumi and veggies served with chickpeas and very pretty coulis. Here it is in all its glory:
I do apologise for the very average quality of the photos – they were taken on an iPhone, without flash because I was embarrassed of taking photos of my meal in a somewhat fancy place, so was trying to be discreet.
As I am in a bit of an asparagus phase at present, I immediately knew I wanted the Asparagus Rotolo (Char-grilled Asparagus, courgettes & red peppers with herb ricotta & goats’ cheese. Rolled in a Thyme-infused potato & served with sauce vierge – ohmygod!).
Matt had the Carciofini (stuffed baby artichokes) for his starter, which were very tasty but we were both a bit surprised when they came out battered. For the main, he opted for Cous-Cous Crusted Aubergine, which would have been my second choice had I not been blinded by the mention of asparagus.
Check out the rest of the epic menu here. Not a veggie burger or Margherita pizza in sight!
One thing that really stood out at The Gate was the food presentation. Everything was just so pretty. I’m talking neat little towers of falafel, food on ‘beds’ of salad or chickpeas and artsy drizzles of salsa and coulis on plates. I wish our photos did the meals justice!
I have had many nice vegetarian meals out before but they are usually just better versions of things I make myself (I can make Thai curry, just not as well as the Thais and I can make Nachos, just not as well as the Mexicans…). So to go somewhere that serves delicious, well-presented, unique food, most of which I couldn’t make myself, is what a true dining out experience should be.
Starters, mains and wine for two, plus service set us back just under £70. A little pricier than a broke person like me normally pays but worth every penny. Besides, when you go there with a £50 voucher, you can’t complain!
The Gate Islington
370 St John Street, London EC1V 4NN