220 Oxford Street, Berkeley, CA 94704 | 510.809.0400 | website
brunch is served 10-2:30 on the weekends
I have been waiting for an opportunity to visit Gather again now that they are serving brunch on the weekends. The chef, Sean Baker, overcame critic John Mariani’s fears of floppy-headed waitresses with Vedic tattoos to be named Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year 2010 for his innovative farm to table cooking with selections that appeal to omnivores and vegetarians alike. I had a very enjoyable dinner (especially loved the vegan charcuterie) last year that you can read about here. I was so on it when I read that Blackboard Eats was offering a deal for brunch and a free pastry plate if you pay with a Visa Signature card…
Mr. K and I met our inlaws Mank and Casey who are always willing to drive the distance for a good cuppa coffee and breakfast. We were all starving and I was hungrily anticipating a nice basket of scones and muffins for us to dig into for the above mentioned pastry plate and enjoy with our coffee… In the meantime, I’m telling you that you really must try the egg sandwich at this place. They are really good. I love a well cooked egg. You can see that the yolk is still a dark golden color which might hold the promise of a bit of runny yolky to wipe up with the rest of your sandwich… The levain bread is of the thick crusty variety, a wheaty sourdough from Acme. There is melted cheese peeking out from under the bread and some pungent crunchy dressed greens to perk things up. A perfect balance of textures and flavors this is.
Egg sandwich ($8) cheddar cheese, arugula, aioli, grilled levain add bacon or braised mushrooms ($3)
This was the first one that Mr. K ordered which came with thinly sliced mushrooms which added just the right amount of rich meaty texture and flavor. There was a pile of melted cheese which was a good thing.
This is the one that I ordered, most recently. The braised mushrooms were thick slices of portobellos, which had been cooked with red onions, smoked chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and “tomato condiment” which is like a housemade ketchup. I personally found this to overwhelm the sandwich. The eggs were rubbery hard, the yolks were chalky and dry. It was much less enjoyable this time, but one out of three is not bad. I will just have to specify how I like the eggs cooked next time, because now I have to go back to erase the lame memory of this one…
Mank ordered the Spigariello-Porcini scramble ($14), which was served with roasted Lindencroft heirloom potatoes, and grilled bread. Spigariello can be thought of as broccoli leaves (read more here), which added a nice leafy vegetable texture. The soft custardy eggs were infused with a savory mushroom flavor and each bite was full of tiny cubes of porcini. I loved that the grilled bread was dusted with lacy tendrils of freshly shaved parmesan cheese.
And then, let me show you this Crispy Pig Plate ($14)! I really enjoyed this. There were meaty chunks of pork belly that are really just thick squares of bacon cooked to a crisp, served with roasted corn, kale, and onion, topped with fried eggs and crusty slices of grilled sourdough.
Underneath the eggs I unearthed a luscious treasure trove of tender slow cooked pork shoulder meat that had been pan fried to a delicately crisped crust. I was in a hog heaven… Besides these more standard breakfast savories, the menu offers french toast, polenta pancakes, breakfast pizzas, soups and interesting salads. The pizza looked fantastic, but I couldn’t imagine eating the whole thing myself, and wasn’t able to get any takers to share. Next time… Click here for a sample menu.
Mr. K began his day with a Prather Ranch burger ($14) topped with melted Sierra Nevada cheddar, aioli, caramelized shallot-tomato sauce, served with a side salad.
He said it was really good, the meat was cooked just pink enough. To make it more breakfasty you can add bacon ($3) or a fried egg ($2)
Our pastry plate arrived, long after the last sip of coffee. Unlike my imagined plate of muffins and scones, we were served a slice of vegan spiced carrot cake topped with cashew sour cream icing ($5), along with a few candied walnuts, a fragment of toffee and a few fresh blueberries strewn on the plate. It was very sweet, a fitting ending to our meal.
And a shot of the leather seating made from recycled belts. I’m a tree hugger and just love their commitment to go beyond organic in supporting local food producers who cultivate and harvest safely, justly and sustainably. The vegan charcuterie which changes with the season still beckons me, if only they had that on the brunch menu…
Hours: Dinner 5-10pm; lunch 11:30am-2:00pm; weekend brunch 10am-2:30pm