We’ll come right out and say it at the start. We love the Gate, Islington. It doesn't always get a mention in other vegan guides, but that’s a shame. Maybe other reviewers baulk at the price (£12 to £15) for a main course, or maybe they’re out of their comfort zone when the food is beautifully presented, and vegetables are fresh and identifiable and not mushed together in a giant vegetable surprise bake. Whatever the reason, you are really missing out if you don’t get yourself to the Gate at least once.
If we had a criticism, it would be that the starters and desserts surpassed the main courses. The thali was, well, a thali (and didn’t beat anything that could be found in Drummond Street) and the confit of artichoke salad was primarily a pile of greens, with a hint of dressing...and at £12.50, we couldn't help but think: hmmm, should we have ordered something else? In that awful habit we all have when we feel restaurant food doesn’t quite meet expectations, our minds kept wondering how many store-bought salads could have been obtained for the same price.
Portions were a little on the minimal side, but a plate of hastily-ordered, delicious polenta fries rapidly stayed any hunger pangs. And what a joy those puddings were! If you’re a vegan who doesn’t cook, and is forced to scour the streets of London looking for your sugar fix, you’ll be well-familiar with the disappointed expectations induced by dry, brittle blocks masquerading as brownies and compacted, dense coagulations of soya margarine and sugar passing themselves off as fluffy Victoria sponges. You need to get yourself to the Gate, pronto!
Our desserts were sublime. So sublime they could compete in the non-vegan world. That ordinary world you thought you’d left behind forever when you promised your girlfriend you’d keep to her APF diet and became “Veganish”. Not a hint of carob, nor an aftertaste of tofu. If we had a favourite, it was the trifle. Rich and velvety, with strong fruit flavours. Great texture, but most of all that creamy taste that you yearn for when you think you’ve left behind dairy forever. We’ll stop before we feel compelled to jump on a No.38 to Islington for second helpings.