Hurrying through Downtown Berkeley, a wide, cozy restaurant with enticing mood-lighting and a romantic backdrop of vines caught my eye. One word came to mind: bougie. As I peered in through the windows, my accomplice took notice and said, “This definitely looks like somewhere you would eat.” By the grace of the culinary gods, I landed the opportunity some weeks later to try Gather as a representative for Spoon. What I will say, in short, is something already written by Diablo Magazine: “If you haven’t been to Gather, go. If you have, go again.” Whether you’re planning the ideal date-night dinner or a relaxed meal with friends and colleagues, a look at these five dishes will have you sold.


Ariel Yue

Gather’s starter selection is a healthy heaven, offering everything from brussel sprouts to yams. We chose the Steamed Mussels, completed with fermented habanero peppers, levain, and a smoked jalapeno aioli. As a first-timer to mussels, I was a bit skeptical of whether or not I would be a fan of this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the soft texture, cohesion of spicy flavors, and lack of fishiness. The toast topped with the aioli was a perfect compliment, having readied my appetite for a lovely meal.


Ariel Yue

With such a wide variety of unique pizzas, it was a tough choice between the Maitake Mushroom, Mozzarella, Spicy Tomato, and Roasted Corn, but in the end, mushrooms cannot be resisted. If you’ve never heard of maitake, you're probably not alone, since it has only been popularized in the US within the last 20 years despite its centuries-long history in Japan and China. These fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-sodium, and low-calorie mushrooms packed an impressive flavor alongside fresh thyme, silky cream, spicy chili, and lemon zest. What was most surprising was how many different dimensions of flavor this pizza had with its rich cheese, hints of sour, and zingy aftertaste.

Main Courses 

Megan Huff

For our main course, we tried the Roasted Half Chicken, doused in a sweet and spicy hazelnut mole, topped with curtido, and served with black turtle beans. Mole—a quintessentially Mexican sauce—traditionally includes chocolate, a variety of chiles, acidics like tomatoes or tomatillos, dried fruit, spices, and nuts. As a Latina from San Diego, I had high standards for this dish, with only moderate hopes given my Mexican dining experiences thus far in the Bay Area. But while the sauce was a noticeably thicker variation, its flavor was truly authentic and did the juicy chicken its justice. The tang of the curtido brought the dish to life as well, making for yet another strategically-layered combination of flavors.   


Ariel Yue

Finally, since Gather has a stellar reputation for its sweets, we had to try more than just one. It’s hard to say no to chocolate. We ordered a delicate chocolate cake that oozed with sesame ganache, and it was topped with a dense dollop of house-made whipped cream. The chocolate packed a punch with its serious richness—it was like licking a spoon clean of brownie batter. 

Ariel Yue

For a fall-flavored treat, the Date & Apple Cake exceeded expectations. More resembling the shape and texture of a muffin, this cake was heavily spiced with ginger, drenched in a warm-and-cozy caramel sauce, and—you guessed it—topped with more of that heavenly whipped cream. These desserts were the perfect send-off after a wholesome meal. If you’re considering something from the dessert menu, you must abide by one rule: do not share, just treat yourself.

Indeed, this definitely looks like somewhere I would eat again. Gather’s unmistakably Californian menu blends farm-to-table freshness with exciting cultural influences, inspiring a fierce growl from my hungry-college-kid belly. Book a reservation now, and you can thank us later.