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Gather Restaurant’s Pork Belly

Subtle complexity.


Nicholas Boer

In this era of simplicity on the plate, a dish that harmonizes a myriad of divergent flavors stands out. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the pork belly—a dish of subtle complexity—at Gather in Berkeley is on the tip of my tongue when it comes time to consider the most outstanding dish of 2016.

Why? The poised rectangular prism of sizzling hot pork belly arrives with drizzles of sweet mustard gastric, a spoonful of pickled cucumber yogurt, a tuft of newborn arugula, and a bed of creamy lentils spiked with the warm toasted spice of pumpkin pie. Each bite brought a new emphasis, building on the previous and decelerating my fork as I appreciated the harmonic interplay.

In other words, it was very good indeed.

It’s clear that new chef Tu David Phu is only adding to Gather’s splendid reputation. The restaurant itself, with its rounded windowed dining room, is one of the coziest in the East Bay. And the service, at least on our visit, was delicate and thorough.

It adds up to a simple message: If you haven’t been to Gather, go. If you have, go again.

2200 Oxford St., Berkeley, (510) 809-0400, gatherrestaurant.com. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun.