Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Month of Meals from the Atlantic to the Pacific: Part 2.3 – Farewell San Fran - Gather Restaurant Review

This is another long overdue post that I’ve been thinking about for months!

The Bay Area is home to so much great food and Gather’s got to be at the top of the list for anyone interested in sustainable, local, organic, vegetarian, grass-fed, and/or delicious food!  Christina (mentioned in previous post) and I tracked this place down after doing a quick yelp search for veg-friendly places in Berkeley.  We knew there’d be plenty of choices, but after taking a quick look at this place on our phones, it was a no-brainer.  This place was love at first yelp. 

From the moment we walked in, I was getting ideas.  The look of this place was right up my alley.  Simple wood.  Clean lines. A visible kitchen. Slate and chalk and brushed metal. Oh my. On the way to our table, after we passed the breastfeeding woman, I noticed that Gather was practically decorated with giant ball jars filled with grains and beans.  Seriously… why hadn’t I thought of that? I had been spending so much money on those expensive OXO pop containers for all my dry pantry staples! By now, my canning jar collection has exploded and I’m in love with my cabinets!

But I digress.  As we poured over the menu, one thing was abundantly clear: this place rocked!

Stream of consciousness: Yes of course this goes with that.  Oh Yum. I want to know how to make that. 

Everything on the menu just made sense. Gather supports local farmers and clearly spends a lot of time considering where to source their ingredients (or maybe it doesn’t take that much time to find great sources when you’re in California!).  Gather’s proud of their ½ vegetarian menu and I was thrilled to see lots of vegan options and even some good-looking meat (not that I’d order any, but if I suddenly decided I wanted to eat something with legs again, I might hold out for a return trip to this place).

The simple one-page menu changes frequently based on what’s available but looks to be consistently organized into Small Plates, Soups and Salads, Artisanal Plates, Pizzas, and Large Plates.  The prices seem fair for the careful planning that goes into every dish.  I started with a vegan split pea soup.  I love it when restaurants serve vegetarian things that should be vegetarian to begin with but are often spoiled with the addition of a ham hock.  So that was a no-brainer and it was delicious. 

Then Christina and I split the Vegan “charcuterie.” There was asparagus with a lentil salsa, toasted ciabotta with avocado and fried tofu skin, heirloom carrots on a bed of cashew ricotta, a potato sunchoke chanterelle salad, and roasted beets with blood oranges and fennel!  Words cannot even describe how delicious everything was. What I can say was that the cashew ricotta helped me understand how vegans can live without cheese. I still don’t think it’s for me, but hey, it’s food for thought.  Tee Hee.

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