A visit to The Gate Islington
The Gate is somewhat of an institution in London, dating back to 1989 when their original location in Hammersmith opened. The Islington branch opened its doors more recently in 2012 and benefits from a prominent corner position on St John Street at the end of Rosebery Avenue.
Upon entering, the Islington restaurant impresses with its casually elegant interior although the lack of soft furnishings and combination of wooden floor and tiled walls meant that the noise levels were quite high. My friends and I were having a pre-theatre dinner so we wasted no time in ordering our starters, mains (and wine of course!) soon after sitting down. The service was polite, friendly and swift… off to a good start.
I ordered the Vietnamese Rolls starter (“filled with smoked tofu, cucumber, mango mint and alfalfa sprouts and served with soya dip”) and was totally underwhelmed with the dish. First of all the amount of food on the plate was minuscule compared with the other starters. Secondly the rolls themselves were bland and boring, totally lacking any decent flavours or textures. For £6 I could buy something tastier and more filling in a motorway services. I didn’t taste the pakoras that my friends had ordered but they got a thumbs up.
For the main, I had the Corn Cake for £14 which was served with “grilled baby artichoke, fennel, courgette, tomato and pepper with a chipotle black bean salsa, coriander dressing and schoog.” Well schoog or no schoog, the dish didn’t really do it for me. The grilled vegetables were lovely but miserly in their existence. My friends and I couldn’t detect a hint of chipotle in the dish and the corn cake was stodgy and bland. I didn’t hate it at the time but as I was still starving after my microscopic starter it probably had more appeal.
My friend ordered the polenta chips as a side and they were delicious. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to The Gate but if I do, I’ll order them.
Fortunately for our wallets, we didn’t have time for dessert, but perhaps that would have redeemed the meal? Otherwise, I have to say that the high cost, small servings and bland tastes will not have me rushing back to The Gate when I can get cheaper, superior vegan food elsewhere in London.