Tag Archives: ginger

The Gate, Angel

Can’t imagine life without meat or fish? Then go to The Gate for vegetable dishes that would beat lasagne to a pulp.

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The Islington branch is spacious, bright and colourful. I went on a busy Thursday evening and struggled to choose between the spread of ‘Indo-Iraqi Jewish’ dishes. Settling with the aubergine schnitzel (£13.75), I was eating within five minutes, making me wonder if it’d been ‘warmed up’ in the microwave.

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Three, golden crumbed slices of aubergine created a pyramid around a square of potato dauphinoise. To the side sat a pile of crispy curly kale, sprinkled with sugar and fried in a little too much oil for my liking. The schnitzel combined meaty aubergine with silky red peppers and strong cheddar cheese. It was a robust combination that I enjoyed down to the very last bite.

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I shared three scoops of ice cream with L – perfectly pleasant (£4.50), but not made on site, so no need to dwell. R was nailing her Stem Ginger Sponge Pudding (£6), keeping quiet until every bit of toffee sauce was licked from the plate.

The Gate won’t be for everyone – some of my friends wouldn’t dream of going to a meatless restaurant. But I found it interesting and surprisingly wholesome, so give it a LLE rating of 7/10.

The Gate, 370 St John Street, London EC1V 4NN

The Gate on Urbanspoon

Beagle, Shoreditch

After a quick drink in Cottons Rum Shack, followed by an even quicker, forced conversation with Henry Holland outside his ice-cream van, we arrived at Beagle – the restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for months, partly because of reviews, partly because I like anything associated with dogs.

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Located just off Kingsland Road, Beagle is unsurprisingly filled with local hipsters and ‘creative’ types. The striking interior makes the most out of being an old railway tunnel, made up of exposed brick walls, wooden furniture and a view through to the kitchen. Outside there are a few ‘unbookable’ tables, allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Our smiley waitress took us through the mouth-watering menu, pointing out two dishes already sold out. This felt like a lot, but as it happened, neither dish would have made our order anyway.

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The ‘special’ Chargrilled Squid was also in short supply, so we quickly ordered one as a starter. To accompany this, we went for Meinda & Pink Ox Heart Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella & Basil (£7.50). The generous portion of squid had a lovely smokey finish, with each piece as tender as the last. Accompanying it was a mustardy sauce that we ate with relish.

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By contrast, the colourful salad was a little disappointing. With such a fancy name, the tomatoes didn’t sing like I expected. Nevertheless, the basil dressing was so deliciously garlicky, we insisted on more bread to mop the plate.

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For main, we went for Chargrilled Herdwick Lamb, Bobby Beans & Anchovy (£19.00) and Whole Lemon Sole, Kolhrabi, Radish & Chervil (£18.00). That, and sides of Duck Fat Chips (£4.50) and Grilled Sweetcorn (£3.50).

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The lamb was lovely and rare, but again, lacked the depth of flavour we’d hoped for (surprising, given the addition of anchovy). As for the Sole, the buttery, white meat melted in the mouth, brought to life by the crisp Kolhrabi salad – a vegetable I hadn’t eaten since my lunch at Dabbous.

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Grilled sweetcorn required no butter – always a good sign – but the chunky chips didn’t quite deliver on taste. Each crisp, golden finger was as good as any well-made chip, but lacked the meaty aroma expected from the duck fat.

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We shared Gooseberry Fool & Ginger Snap for dessert, which was creamy, light and filled with large chunks of fruit. It was even better spread on a ginger snap biscuit – a great end to the meal.

If I’m in the neighbourhood, I’ll probably go back to Beagle to chance a table outside. The atmosphere was great, the interior felt special and some of the dishes were fantastic. So, I will give this much hyped restaurant a LLE Rating of 7/10.

Beagle, 397-400 Geffrye Street, E2 8HZ

Beagle on Urbanspoon

The Sportsman’s Arms, Nr. Harrogate

Giles Coren’s latest review reads like a well argued essay. He succinctly addresses the question: are London restaurants the best in the country? For him, the answer is an overwhelming ‘yes’.  For me, the answer is a well-balanced yes and no.

Yes, London has – and is spewing out – some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. No, I’ve eaten at heaps of non-London restaurants that are excellent in their own special ways, even if they lack big city pizazz.

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The Sportsman’s Arms in Pateley Bridge is a case in point. Even though its main dining room looks like it’s been decorated by grandma (mine has great taste, so that needn’t be a bad thing), it’s a charming restaurant with a menu stuffed full of local game and fresh fish.

I went in March when the weather was the same as today – bloody freezing. The Sportsman’s Arms made us forget the White Witch’s curse over our green and pleasant land, filling us with a delicious three course meal and plenty of wine.

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My choices had a distinctly fishy theme. To start, I went for Seared Shetland Isle Scallops on an onion and fennel confit, grilled pancetta and roquette pesto (£11.50), and for main, it was Roast Whitby Monkfish placed on top of beetroot risotto with more grilled pancetta and horseradish sauce (£19.50).

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The chef clearly knows how to treat his fish  – both the scallops and monkfish were expertly cooked, creating dishes fit for a little lady.  He also knows how well white fish goes with salty pancetta. A delicious combination that’s making my mouth water as I type.

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Before my non-fishy pudding, I managed to fit in a mouthful of nearby Roasted Loin of Venison on parsnip colcannon and tapanade (£19.50). I’ve had a lot of venison this year, so know how I like it – pink, tender and juicy. This venison certainly floated my boat and, on another visit, I think I’d choose deer over fish.

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Dessert was shared – Hannah’s Sticky Ginger Pudding, served with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce (£6.50). I don’t know who Hannah is, but the woman deserves a pudding making medal. From the first taste, I wished it was all for me. The sponge was light, warmed by the ginger, and the oh so sweet toffee sauce calmed by creamy vanilla ice-cream. Mmm, mmmmmm.

I’ll finish by saying two things. One – Giles, why not pay The Sportsman’s Arms a visit, you might be pleasantly surprised. Two – this restaurant gets a LLE Rating of 8 / 10.

The Sportsmans Arms, Wath-in-Nidderdale, Pateley Bridge, Nr. Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 5PP

The Pot Kiln, Yattendon

I’m not fanatical about the royals, but what girl doesn’t dream of being a princess. Well, on my birthday, I got to play Kate as we walked my slightly less glamorous one-eyed dog to The Pot Kiln (sorry Archie), just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Middleton’s family residence.

Anyway, you’re not here to read about my dog walking, so on to the food. Ever since I sunk my teeth into one of their delicious venison scotch eggs at the end of last year, I’ve wanted to go back to The Pot Kiln for dinner.

With a menu that might give vegetarians sleepless nights and vegans nightmares, almost everything hinges on meat either shot on the neighbouring estates, or caught off the coast of Cornwall. As a fish lover, I ordered the Oak Smoked Mackerel Croquettes to start and Roast Cornish Bream with Mussels, Watercress and Sea Spinach for main.

Both courses reaffirmed my love of good gastropub grub – the croquettes were crisp, sweet and perfectly teamed with the sauce gribiche (a cold egg sauce with pickles and capers) and my main was bursting with fishy flavour from the bream, mussels and salinity of the sea spinach.

As for the die hard meat eaters, my parents shared a Haunch of Deer from the specials menu, and what a haunch it was – there was enough tender, juicy meat and roasted, garlicky vegetables to feed four hungry men, which pleased my dad as the majority was taken home in a doggy bag ready to be devoured the next day.

Personally, if I’d gone with meat for my main, I would have sided with The Boyfriend, who went for Hereford Beef Cheeks with crispy shallots and celeriac mash. Fortunately for me, the boyfriend was feeling a little under the weather, so I was allowed to demolish half the divine dish that quite literally melted in the mouth.

For pudding, we all shared a chocolate mousse topped with honeycomb and raspberries…

…and rhubarb and ginger fool, with a rich compote at the bottom and oaty, ginger biscuits on the side. They didn’t last long, so must have tasted pretty good – sadly the happy haze of gluttony had overwhelmed me and my memory by that stage.

I will give The Pot Kiln a LLE Rating of 9/10. It’s by far the best and most satisfying pub food I’ve tasted, whether snacking on a Scotch egg at the bar, or feasting on half a deer in the restaurant. Food this good does come at a price though – around £35 a head without wine – but it’s worth it and you’d be hard pushed to find the same quality in London without paying more.

The Pot Kiln, Frilsham, nr Yattendon RG18 0XX