The Gate Islington 1

370 St John Street , London, EC1V 4NN

The Gate Islington

SquareMeal Review of The Gate Islington

Located opposite Sadler’s Wells Theatre, this second branch of the ground-breaking Gate takes the same clean-lined, eclectic approach as the Hammersmith original. Design-wise, the attractive corner site is very much of its time with bare filament bulbs, wooden floors, enamel pendant lights and windows all round, while owners Michael and Adrian Daniel continue to thrill with their cross-cultural, globally inspired vegetarian food: grilled halloumi in chermoula with freekeh, pomegranate and mint salad; sesame-coated smoked tofu with coriander pesto, pickled vegetables and seaweed; leek, trompette and Stilton tart; tortillas with two fillings, guacamole, sour cream and black-bean salsa – no hippie stodge here. Desserts are slightly more conservative – raw vegan cheesecake with prune jam, for example. Also look out for daily lunch/pre-theatre deals, weekend brunch, an all-day bar menu and an eclectic wine list bristling with organic, biodynamic and vegan bottles.

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The Gate Islington is recommended for

Buzzy | Widely Spaced Tables | Group Dining 8 Plus

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Angel Tube Station 278m

Kings Cross Thameslink Station 758m

Address

Address: 370 St John Street , London EC1V 4NN

Area: Clerkenwell Barbican

Opening times

Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat -Sun 10am-), 5pm-10.30pm

Nearby Landmarks

Old Red Lion Theatre 82m

Sadler's Wells Theatre and Lillian Baylis Theatre 82m

Details

Telephone: 020 7278 5483

Cuisine: Vegetarian

6.7

Food & Drink: 8.0

Service: 7.0

Atmosphere: 7.9

Value: 5.9

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

The Cheese platinum reviewer 20 March 2016

The most disappointing veggie restaurants tend to be either joyless (with a feverish contempt for gluten and dairy), or rather apologetic endeavours that serve up pale imitations of meaty classics. I’m happy to report that The Gate is no such place; it's just a sound restaurant all-round, that’s pleasingly low on worthiness. The absence of meat and fish makes way for inventive use of eggs and cheese, with vegan options widely available. The split-level space is heaving when brunch is in full swing, so book ahead. The busy, buzzy bar is alive with clinking cocktail glasses and the constant roar of a coffee machine, so it feels relaxed, welcoming and warm. My starter was smashing: marinated halloumi with spiced freekeh and a pokey, piquant dip. My partner's stuffed potato cake made the most of roast and ground Middle-Eastern flavours, as did shakshuka for main. The eggs were perfectly cooked, although the sloppy sauce was begging for a hunk of sourdough to mop it up. My main of aubergine schnitzel combined the satisfying crunch of a nutty crumb with tangy pesto and a rich, buttery dauphinoise. Tofu couldn’t quite nail the density or sourness of a bone fide cheesecake, but it made a decent dessert nonetheless; a biscuit base dotted with walnuts and a trickle of prune compote upped its grown-up credentials. A layered chocolate dessert looked positively majestic and I’m assuming it tasted good too (seeing as I didn’t get a look in). A sizeable wine list hammers home the anti-austerity agenda, so my partner duly knocked back a carafe of viognier while I had a tasty, booze-free apple mojito. We were served speedily and attentively, and left feeling jolly content. I’m astonished to read that several reviewers left hungry; we had three courses at lunch and didn’t eat for the rest of the day. In short, it’s not the cheapest place to get good grub in Islington, but I’d look forward to going again.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 1.0

Ilana W. 21 November 2014

I have eaten here a few times. I am vegetarian. The food is absolutely delicious. However, there is one major problem with it. The portions. Some dishes aren't too terrible, but unfortunately what I experienced last week is a typical example of my trips to the Gate. For starter I ordered the fried courgette flower. It was amazingly tasty, except it was gone in 10 seconds! They gave me one, ONE!! Even two would have been tiny and absurd but certainly a whole lot better than one tiny courgette flower. I was very upset because it was so tasty and gone in 10 seconds and certainly not filling or satisfying. There is no reason whatsoever to be so stingy on portions and especially for what they charged for it. For main course, I had to go for the Thali. Why did I have to you may wonder? Well because based on my previous experiences I knew that the other dishes were way too small to fill me up and I was starving. This was a huge shame as I really fancied the mushroom dish, but I knew it would be too small. And when my friend ordered it for herself I was proved right. I told the waitress of my concerns and she looked at my oddly and said we must have different ideas of portions because she thought they were big. Erm yes they are big if you are an anorexic on the brink of death. As a side note, my friends' starters were even more of a joke than my one courgette flower. They ordered the beetroot ravioli. What came was what can only be described as a few particles of a red and yellow grapefruit dotted round a plate with sauce in the middle. Of course it wasn't grapefruit but that's what it looked like - tiny particles of a grapefruit segment! They had to remind me it was supposed to be ravioli. I didn't see ravioli anywhere. If the Gate only sorted out their portion problem, this would be somewhere I would come to all the time. As it stands you will leave the restaurant MUCH poorer and still starving. And actually probably crying that you can't have more of that very tasty morsel of something or the other that they served you purporting to be a meal.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Sarah R. silver reviewer 29 May 2014

Great restaurant whether you are veggie or not. I am Vegetarian but my husband is not and we both really enjoyed our meal. The restaurant was very busy when we arrived and we were going to be seated at a table squashed in the back so I asked to be moved. We were seated at a lovely table in the centre of the restaurant with more room to spread out. The service was efficient and friendly and the wine list is small but excellent. We were celebrating our wedding anniversary so started with a chilled glass of champagne. I didn't enjoy the food quite as much as my previous visit to the restaurant at Christmas but I think that was due to my food choices. Being presented with a menu full of choices is quite a rarity for a vegetarian who is used to the obligatory mushroom risotto. My husband chose more wisely and started with couscous and feta falafels coated with crunchy hazelnuts followed by mushroom stack surrounded by thin layers of potato and leeks. I started with a smoked tofu summer roll but found the tofu lacked flavour and they were not a patch on the Vietnamese rolls you can get down Kingsland Road. My salad of artichoke, semi-dried tomatoes and hazelnuts was delicious but the lemon dressing tasted of olive oil rather than lemons. I am being picky as overall we had a lovely evening and will be back. I wanted to use my Squaremeal rewards voucher but the restaurant did not recognise the voucher (it wasn't very clear). However the Manager was kind enough to honour the voucher for us.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Ros K. 08 November 2013

The menu was exciting for a vegetarian restaurant, but when I ordered the polenta dish I was disappointed. The portion was small for the price and the so called chargrilled effect meant that it mainly tasted burnt. There were no exciting treats for the taste buds there. Overall I did not find the food as good as it sounded, although the desserts were very tasty.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Maggie P. bronze reviewer 12 September 2013

My American colleague is a vegetarian and was so delighted to be able to chose ANYTHING on the menu! Even more delightful, we both had excellent meals – well presented, well sized, great combination of flavours and textures, charming and attentive staff. Both she and I will be back.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Eileen B. 04 April 2013

The Gate is our nearest vegetarian restaurant and after our first meal there last night to celebrate a birthday we rate it nearly as good as Fellini's in Ambleside or its twin sister Zefferellis, our two favourite vegetarian restaurants. The dishes are all creative with great combinations of flavours. The tomato presse with mozzarella was the best starter my son had ever had. The freshly squeezed juices were lovely. Some of the dishes were spoiled by being a little too salty, for example my otherwise lovely carrot and ginger soup and my husband's mushroom and samphire dish. White tablecloths and nice wine glasses would make this a beautiful restaurant and live music would be a real draw. However, we will take pleasure in visiting repeatedly now that we have discovered The Gate as it's recipes really are unique.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 0.0

Tom V. 11 June 2012

We'd heard rave reviews about The Gate in Hammersmith, but never managed to go. Now they have spread their vegetarian wings to Islington, right by the Sadlers Wells dance venue, and just a few minutes from Angel Tube. The Hammersmith branch is being renovated and will reopen in Autuum 2012. Excited about this new vegetarian offering, we popped in for pre-dance bite to eat, but we left hungry and with a hole in our pockets. The Gate did not live up to its reputation. It was an unpleasant shock and a worse-than-average London restaurant rip-off. The new decor is OK. A bit dingy. Too many poky corners. They have gone for a ‘street lamp’ feel but this didn't cast much light. The sofas were not as comfy as they looked. The menu was quite varied – all vegetarian, and clearly marked as vegan or gluten free or nut free. The menu suffers from being quite pretentious, using obscure terms beyond the knowledge of the ordinary punter. However, on probing the waitress clearly didn't know ingredients in detail and wasn't able to explain what was in a vegan ceviche either. Despite saying they are an ‘organic’ restaurant – and charging for it – most things on the menu were not certified organic ingredients. This is cheeky, and tries to pull the wool over the eyes of today's informed consumer. The Islington set won't be fooled, that's for sure. When they arrived, the portions were shockingly small – we were in for a disappointment as soon as the waitress walked over carrying what looked like three ashtrays half full of food for shared mezze starters. In contrast, the cutlery was huge – too large to use in an ashtray, in fact. So this was not a feast for the eyes or hands… but was it a feast for the belly? Alas, no. We thought we had ordered enough for two, but barely got enough for a child. No complimentary bread or olives or anything – not a crumb. The flavours were OK – but lets be honest, if you're serving vegetarian you need to provide some good textures, and some calories in there too. The tandoori halloumi kebabs were tasty but comprised in fact three small cocktail sticks sharing one cube of halloumi between them. We felt we had been duped. Service was lacklustre – the staff clearly didn't know the menu or have a passion for the food. We were in a slight hurry to get to the nearby theatre and said so, but she still brought us the mains with 13 minutes until the curtain went up, and I had to demand the bill at the bar because the waitress was so slow. We wolfed down the small portions (good thing there wasn't much to eat, eh!). The cost burned a hole in my wallet, and the 15% service charge added insult to injury. As two enthusiastic vegetarians in London, our verdict was: The Gate serves small portions of average vegetarian food, but at eye-wateringly high prices – it's like caviar you pay so much for so little. And it lied about being organic. Sadlers Wells theatre is still left without a decent restaurant nearby. If you want good vegetarian food, try Planet Organic 15 minutes up the road, or the highly-recommended Carnevale in Barbican (booking advised).

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