Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gather Indeed a Nice Place for Gathering

2200 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA
(510) 809-0400

We received a gift card from our friend Kirk and Ei-lun for Christmas for Gather and thought it would be nice to use it soon. So, I made reservation for last night at Gather for my boyfriend and my early anniversary dinner. I trust Kirk and Ei-lun's tastes in food very much, they know where to go for good food all the time! I was excited and really looked forward to it.

When my bf and I arrived for our reservation, it was pretty packed already but no one waiting. We were seated right away. Our server introduced himself, gave us some water and went off. It took awhile for him to come back to take our orders. I felt like they were short on staffs, but the server still tried their best to attend to their tables. There were many tables since they were placed pretty close together, close enough such that people had to squeeze themselves to get out.

Gather is known to support and serve fresh food from local producers. Their menu consists of carnivores, vegetarian, vegan as well as gluten-free food, made perfect for everyone. This place looked very recycle friendly, with tables and chair made out of unpolished wood, and couch attached to the wall made out of belts. The bottle they use to serve water in was milk bottles from Strauss Farm. They use part of their menu to wrap around a glass filled with a fake reuseable candle on the table.

My boyfriend ordered a housemade soda, and our server recommended me the Kombacha Botanica, a Chinese herbal inspired drink. For starters, my boyfriend and I wanted to try both their artisanal platters, afterall, they are artisanal! One of the artisanal plate was House Cured Meat and the other was Vegan Platter. Another starter we ordered was Sardines with Brussel Sprouts. I know, it sounded weird and unique, and that was why we wanted to try it. My boyfriend ordered a Abalone Mushroom Soup as a side and Seared Fort Bragg Rock Cod as his entree. I ordered a Young Chicken Under a Brick as my entree. We ordered a LOT of food, lots of delicious food.

Vegan Platter - (clockwise from left top corner) 1) Romanesco broccoli, baby turnips, breadcrumbs, "aioli", parsley. 2) Roasted blue kabocha squash, Jerusalem artichoke potato salsa. 3) Oyster mushroom ceviche, avocado, shaved radish. 4) Mendocino Black Trumpet bruschetta, fava leaves, cannellini puree. 5) Smoked tomato porcini pate, grilled radicchio, walnuts.  

Everything in this platter was so, so unique! Grilled French bread was serve with this. My favorite was the Oyster mushroom cev, avocado and shaved radish. The avocado made it very refreshing. My least favorite was the Mendocino Black Trumpet brucschetta. It was very bland, I couldn't taste any mushroom, only taste the cannellini puree.

House Cured Meat - Seasonal accompaniments, roasted garlic, roasted vegetables, bread

This plate was very meaty. The meat was pretty fatty also. One of them was made and cured with cheese, so it was pretty heavy. I could not finish it.

Local Sardines - Marinated egg yolk, jalapeno mint puree, crispy brussels sprouts leaves, grilled bread

This was my favorite plate out of the whole night! The fried brussel sprout was so good.  It tasted good eaten by itself or with the sardine. The jalapenos mint puree toned down the fishy taste of the sardine, so it tasted pretty pleasant. Highly recommend this!

Abalone Mushroom Chowder - Mendocino Nori, Espelette chili "Tabasco"

It has mushroom in it? I'll take it! Wow this soup tasted really good. Usually chowders are really salty, but this was not the case. I could taste the mushroom and it is a mouthful in very spoon. I couldn't really taste any abalone. I didn't even know if there was any because I didn't feel the chewiness of abalone. But the soup was still good.

Rock Cod - Heirloom squash, currants, capers, olives, pistachio pesto.

The presentation was very pretty. The fish was golden brown on the exterior, and was very tender. The vegetables that accompany the fish made the fish taste very light and sweet.

Young Chicken Under a Brick - Fennel sauce, kamut, fried onion vinaigrette

Hmmm, yummy! The chicken, both the thigh and breast, was tender and juicy. The skin was roasted perfectly. Very aromatic. The grain that came with the dish was pretty hard and seemed uncooked.

Kombacha Bontanica - Wow this non-alcoholic drink smelled a bit weird at first but tasted really good. It tasted a bit like light beer without the bitter taste at first. Then after several sip, it tasted more like sparkling pomengrante juice. The waiter said this is rich in antioxidant and is very good for the body. I really like this drink. If I wasn't so full, I was going to order one to go.

A lot of the plates at Gather are pretty big, which are perfect for sharing. Also, it has such a nice atmosphere that it is a perfect place to meet up with big and small groups of friends. Make sure you carpool though because parking is hard around that area.

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