Cinnamon Village – Tufnell Park

Reviewed on October 23rd, 2013 by Dina

A sunny afternoon gave us the chance to head to Ruby Violet for some decadent ice cream! It’s another story but briefly, Ruby Violet is a real treasure. It has so many unusual flavours and there is so much choice for ice cream and sorbets.

After tasting a few including the slightly spicy Chai ice cream, I chose the Apricot and Sour Cream together with a scoop of Raspberry Ripple. Both were totally scrumptious! Our afternoon was made that little bit more special when we saw Damian Lewis (of Homeland fame) come in with his family for their ice cream treats!

Cinnamon VillageRuby VioletCinnamon Village 2

Satisfied with our Ruby Violet ice cream, we ventured a couple of doors down for coffee at Cinnamon Village. Cinnamon Village was nice enough. It had seating indoors and outdoors and we opted to sit outside on the decked area.

The Americano was good and the staff were friendly. On the menu, there were also smoothies, iced coffee, tea and the option for soya milk.

Cinnamon Village sells organic products in the store as well as sandwiches and salads.

Cinnamon Village, 109 Fortress Road, Tufnell Park, London, NW5 2HR

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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The Gate – Angel

Reviewed on August 2nd, 2013 by Dina

Sometimes, we take it for granted when we live close to our friends! The regular meet ups, popping over to each other’s houses and going for that cup of tea. But when they move away to a different area, then it makes us realise how much we miss those casual get togethers.

After a couple of months of not seeing my close friend, we thought that it’s best to put a date in the diary and go out for lunch. The vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, was chosen!

The Gate is on the same location that used to be Med Kitchen, before it closed down. The dining area felt spacious and there seemed to be a lounge area on the upper level with comfy sofas. Just like with Med Kitchen, the open kitchen area makes up part of the restaurant.

The Gate InteriorThe GateThe Gate Interior 2The Gate Butternut GnocchiThe Gate Indo-Iraqi Potato CakeThe Gate Aubergine SchnitzelThe Gate Aubergine Schnitzel 2The Gate Thai Vegetable CurryThe Gate Apple, Cinnamon and Blackberry Crumble

The Gate does exquisite vegetarian and vegan food and also has a lot of gluten free options. All the dishes are so different. We were spoilt for choice with the menu. The Plantain Fritters first took our fancy but then after speaking to the staff, we changed our mind. The only reason for this was that the fritters were made with minced sultanas, which would make them a little sweet.

Both of the starters that we chose were delicious. The Indo-Iraqi Potato Cake was big, round, seeded and had so much flavour. It was made with potato, courgettes, baby corn, carrots, peas and red onion. It was delicately spiced. The chutney that the potato cake was served with was sweet and sour tamarind and it was also topped with an apple and coriander chutney. It was a truly delightful starter.

The other impressive starter was the Butternut Gnocchi. This gnocchi was not like any that I have had before. Gone away with the stodgy, dull, heavy gnocchi and instead, The Gate’s gnocchi was a real delight. The mashed butternut squash was covered with a thin coating. The gnocchi was in a cream sauce and also came with a roasted tomato salsa and thin shavings of Twineham Grange cheese. The Butternut Gnocchi was a really tasty dish and even though it had a cream sauce, it did not feel heavy.

After we had finished our starter dishes, we decided after a short while to then order the main dishes. Unfortunately, we did not know that the kitchen had closed for the afternoon and would not reopen until the evening service. After talking to our waiter, he said that he would ask the chef is he could make our main dishes for us. It was really nice of the chef to reopen the kitchen, just to make us our food. The staff were friendly throughout our time at The Gate. Even though, they had closed for the afternoon, they let us continue with our meal and made us feel very welcome.

Again, we were thoroughly impressed with our main dishes, both taste wise and presentation wise. The Aubergine Schnitzel was two long thick slices of aubergine encasing roasted red peppers, pesto, apple wood smoked cheddar and tomatoes. The aubergine was coated in a rough bread crumb coating. All the vegetables were cooked to perfection and all the natural flavours came through. The potato dauphinoise that the schnitzel was served with was great too. One of the things that made this dish that extra bit special was the pan fried kale. It had such an intense flavour.

The Thai Vegetable Curry was a mild curry. It had a lemony flavour going through it. The curry was made with mange tout, baby corn, mushrooms and beansprouts. It came with wild and basmati rice and a small dish of pineapple and chilli salsa. The curry contained a lot of vegetables and the portion size was fairly big.

By the time it came to us ordering our dessert, the evening service had already begun and the restaurant was getting busy. The Apple, Cinnamon and Blackberry Crumble had the natural taste of the fruit and not too much sugar had been added to the fruit. There was a thin layer of crumble topping. The dessert was served with vanilla ice cream. The tartness of the fruit contrasted with the crumble and the sweet ice cream.

The Gate is a wonderful restaurant, offering fantastic quality food and great service. A great deal of care and attention is given to the presentation of the food making it look very pretty. But the presentation does not take anything away from the taste of the food; the quality of ingredients speak for themselves!

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

Rating: ★★★★★

Gate on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

Maison D’Etre – Highbury

Reviewed on May 28th, 2013 by Dina

After missing several events that a friend had organised, I had to put a date in the diary and meet up over coffee! It had been narrowed down to a choice of two locations, either somewhere near Spitalfields or near Highbury. The latter was chosen and I took up my friend’s suggestion of meeting at Maison D’Etre.

Maison D’Etre with its black frontage, is located on the roundabout of Highbury Corner. I always forget that this place is there as it is on the other side of Highbury Corner and a little hidden away by the roundabout, trees and traffic.

On this particular day, the cafe window was all steamed up, so it was difficult to see in. As I was a little early, I took a seat on the cushioned window seats. Unfortunately, the cushions felt damp and cold, maybe due to the window condensation that had been dripping onto it. This did not get off to a good start in my eyes.

Maison D'EtreMaison D'Etre InteriorMaison D'Etre Tea

Maison D’Etre is quite a small cafe with an additional room at the back on a lower level. The counter is opposite the wooden seating area. The cakes were all openly displayed and they all looked fresh and of a good size. I still prefer if cafes would keep their cakes and other foods covered on the counter. So, as the cakes were all open and even they were tempting, I did not try any of them. There were also some sandwiches on display.

There was a good range of teas from the Teapigs range on offer and the staff were happy enough to give some recommendations. The Chocolate Flake Tea was chosen. The combination of the black tea, chocolate chips and cocoa beans was lovely. The tea was served in  a pot with a small china cup and saucer. There was something of a vintage feel going on with this cafe! The soya milk was presented in a little milk bottle, like the ones that we used to have at break times at our first school!

For some reason, I just did not feel relaxed and comfortable at Maison D’Etre. I am not sure if it was because it felt quite small, cold or if it felt a little unclean. On a more positive note, the staff were welcoming, friendly and gave service with a smile.

Maison D’Etre, 154 Canonbury Road, Highbury, London, N1 2UR

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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