Gather is the rare kind of restaurant that bridges the gap between meat lovers, vegans and vegetarians. I've only dined at the restaurant during lunch time and am a big fan of their brick-oven pizzas (+ egg is a must!), but dinner was beyond anything I could imagine.
We were invited to have dinner as guests and had such a great experience that we returned again immediately the week after with Patrick's family to celebrate his mom's birthday. It was no surprise that they loved Gather, too.
The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Charis Wahl and Sous Chef Nick Tovik. Chef Wahl joined the Gather team in 2009 and was most recently the restaurant's Chef de Cuisine. Prior to that she spent time at Rivoli Restaurant in Berkeley and Ozumo in Oakland.
The menu is really fun with a lot of creativity and thought behind it. Gather carefully sources only sustainable ingredients and cooks whole animals and vegetables. They work closely with Lindencroft Farm to craft their menus with unique heirloom varietals of fruits and vegetables.
The service is knowledgeable, pleasant and attentive. Our waiter, Anu, gave us great suggestions on what to order. We also enjoyed how he walks us though each dish we ordered as it arrived and explained the different techniques used to produce what's on the plate.
There wasn't a thing we ate that we didn't love. On our second visit, we ordered the same dishes and cocktails.
Gather's cocktails were outstanding. I thought I was only going to stick with one cocktail for the entire duration of dinner, but I ended up having three drinks - or maybe it was four. By that point, I've lost count.
The team sources organic seasonal and small batch products and hand crafts unique liqueurs and infusions to create their cocktails. The prices range from $11 to $12 a cocktail, which is a tad bit on the higher side, but definitely worth it.
I highly recommend the Chupa Cabra, a tequila, mezcal and habanero drink; the Northern Exposure, a mix of Bank Note scotch, earl grey-maple, citrus and bitters; and my favorite of all is Victory & Brightness made with St George Terrior, Shrub&Co grapefruit, Kina L’Avion, citrus and jalapeño.
Pickled Local Herring with Egg Yolk and Caviar (Special Dish)
The special dish of the evening features a lovely local herring that is nicely pickled with meaty characteristics that give it a nice bite and chew. It's topped with a nice briny paddlefish caviar and beef tendons that were sous vide, dehydrated and fried to create a rich chicharrones-like texture. There's an egg yolk that adds even more richness to the dish and brings it together. Underneath everything I mentioned is a horseradish creme fraiche that gives it a nice refreshing spicy kick. All served with toasted challah bread made in house.
Wild Mushrooms ($16)
I love the beautiful auburn tones of this dish. It reminds me of walks through the woods. The mushrooms were lovely and tender. There's a lot of different flavors going on with the sweet potatoes, fermented celery root, chicories and crispy quinoa. It's all very complex and delicious.
Langley Farms Porchetta ($29)
Holy mother of glorious glistening fat. The porchetta was wonderful, flavorful and juicy. It's served with rosemary braised beans, rapini, chicories and an anchovy vinaigrette. If it's on the menu, you must get it.
TIP: The porchetta is a limited dish. The earlier you go, the better your chances are for getting a plate.
Chickpea Panisse ($24)
The chickpea panisse is a fried chickpea flour cake with a smooth tofu-like texture that's consumed as a snack in the south of France. Gather's version is served with a pardina lentil mushroom ragout, confit leek currant salsa, pine nuts and brussels spouts. It was rustic, comforting and brilliant. It felt like every single component from the lentils to the confit leek currant salsa was carefully thought out because the flavors were harmonious. I couldn't resist this on our second visit and ordered it again as my entree.
Chocolate Budino ($10)
Rich and creamy, silky smooth chocolate with brandied cherries inside. The chocolate budino was a perfect way to end our meal.
Thanks for a lovely dinner, Gather!
VISITING GATHER RESTAURANT
2200 Oxford Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Dinner Every Night: 5:00-9:30pm
Weekday Lunch: 11:30-2:00pm
Weekend Brunch: 10:00-2:30pm