Sometimes you want a farm-to-table experience without leaving the city. My friend Carmen and I did just that at Gather, an American-style restaurant in Lincoln Square. The restaurant was a little difficult to find at first; the building has a simple design that blends into the neighborhood. Once we found our way inside, the simplicity continued. Neutral wood tables and chairs fill up the front of the restaurant while a green, geometric, art deco accent wall provides a pop of color.
Two bars fill the space in the middle of the restaurant. At one bar you can watch the bartender create delicious cocktails and the other bar has front row seats to the open kitchen. Past the bars is another small dining area with an accent wall, and beyond that is a small outdoor courtyard surrounded by greenery.
Carmen and I settled on a table in the courtyard and selected what I feel were the cutest drinks with the most creative names. Carmen went with the “sleepy Jean,” a tequila-based cocktail with lemon, mint, and blood orange flavors. The drink was well-balanced and refreshing! I ordered the rye-based “sunny side of the mountain,” which I was a little worried about because while I love rye, I feel like whiskey is more of a winter spirit and sometimes difficult to turn into a summer drink. Well, let me just say that this drink was beautiful. Served in a highball glass with a sprig of rosemary, it was the lightest whiskey drink I’ve ever had – and exactly what I was looking for!
Carmen and I decided to start our meal with something small and fun, so we opted to split a doughnut. What we got was much larger than I expected (I was thinking more along the lines of mini donuts), and there was a lot going on. One large doughnut was overflowing with lemon curd and smothered with a light, blueberry frosting topped with lemon zest and blueberries. I have to say, I wasn’t too crazy about this, but I also tend to stick to the classics when I get a doughnut. If you prefer to taste more doughnuts than filling, I would pass on this. Despite all of the toppings, the doughnut still tasted light and left us room for our main dishes. The lemon curd was delicious too, so if you do end up ordering this, you should make sure every bite has a bit mixed in.
For our main dishes, Carmen chose the arctic char salad. For those of you who haven’t had arctic char, it’s similar to salmon, but a little milder and creamier (and more eco-friendly than farm-raised salmon!). The fish was cooked excellently and didn’t taste fishy at all, but the baby greens underneath were a little on the wilty side and the sesame tuile was a little sweet for her taste.
I opted for a seafood dish as well, getting the blackened shrimp with smoked corn remoulade and corn cakes. I loved this dish! The shrimp and corn carried a nice, smokey flavor with a little hint of spice and the corn cakes were the perfect pancake and cornbread hybrid. This farm-to-table dish was beautifully executed, and I made sure to get what I couldn’t finish wrapped up for later.
The Bitches say: Four Champagne Flutes!
Gather, in the Lincoln Square area of Chicago, is worth checking out for their ingredients and spectacular cocktails!
Gather serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.