Gather thrilled me not

I’ve been hearing about his super hip hot restaurant in Berkeley called Gather, so Sunday night we went there with Jack and Lisa after the theater.

We were not amused, and by that I mean all of us, not just Queen Victoria.

Okay, Jack may have enjoyed it more than most.

Okay, Jack may have enjoyed it more than most.

Gather is ultra-chic.  Local, sustainable, organic, all the current buzzwords.  Mostly vegetarian, occasionally  vegan, distinctly gluten free, resolutely foodie.  It just isn’t all that great.

The service pretty much sucks.  I saw one waitress working our half of the room, and she had to help the bussers clear the tables.  Perhaps that’s because they have a guy whose job it is to go around to the table with two quart size milk bottles full of water–one still, one sparkling, and fill the glasses.  Or if not fill them, then just put a little bit in them, because it is more ecologically sensitive not to put too much water in the glass.  I didn’t get it at all.

Here’s an example of their attention to detail–a direct quote from their webpage:

Executive Chef Sean Baker and our kitchen team carefully source only sustainable ingredients and cook whole animal and vegetable.

“Whole animal and vegetable”?  If you can’t write a simple sentence, maybe you should hire someone who can.

We had some decent food, it’s true.   I enjoyed “Linda’s Asparagus”, nicely cooked asparagus with sauce gribiche (a fancy variation on mayonnaise) and a cooked duck egg.   Jack and Lisa had the Batavia and Little Gems salad, with “fermented vegetables”.  I have no idea how to ferment a potato, but it tasted pretty good.

Jack ordered the roasted young chicken, he not only seemed to enjoy it but took half home with him.  It was served with injera puree, which turns out to be ground up Ethiopian bread which has no gluten.  Yes, you can indeed be too hip.

We also had a couple of pizzas.  Not the thick, chewy, filling, wonderful pizzas served at Fat Slice Pizza, but exceedingly thin pizzas with overcooked crusts.  Lisa had the pancetta with spring onion, egg and wax peppers.  They just break an egg on top of the pie and it cooks along with everything else. This was the better choice.

Gail and I had the tomato pizza, which didn’t actually have any tomatoes on it, but some kind of tomato sauce, olives, capers, cashew puree (another of those ingredients you use just to be different) and chili oil.  Too clever by half, this pizza just didn’t make it.  We also shared a “Five Dot Ranch Burger” with vella cheese, fries and “tomato condiment [gf]” (which means gluten free) .  Most places just say ketchup, not “tomato condiment [gf].  Heinz does not have to worry, this will not be the 58th variety.  And the burger was overcooked, on a boring bun.  The fries were good.

Undaunted, I ordered dessert.

Ricotta Budino

Ricotta Budino

This is sort of like a lo-cal cheesecake, more  “sort-of” than “like”.  The burnt honey ice cream tasted cold and sweet, but there was nothing burnt honey-ish about it.

We hunted down the waitress, and asked for the check.  Eventually, it came, we paid and left.  I was not a big tipper. Prices here are pretty high; you have to pay for all that coolness.   You sure aren’t paying for the service.

So here’s the bottom line.  We spent too much time and too much money for some pretty good asparagus, a pizza I would never allow out of the kitchen at Fat Slice and an overcooked burger not as good as I can get at Burger King (double whopper with cheese, hold the pickle, that’s my way).  But we were exceedingly cool and stylish in the process.


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