The word “gather” has several meanings, and at the bite-sized restaurant by that name, all of them come into play.
Gather offers the fresh produce and carefully chosen meats gathered from the neighboring Eastern Market, and communal seating at three long zinc-topped tables, each seating 10, that gather people together for the dining experience.
Kyle and Lea Hunt are the proprietors, who take part in every aspect of Gather, along with Jessi Patuano, the newly hired chef, who arrived after the original chef/partner abruptly departed, leaving the Hunts no choice but to close temporarily after just a few months.
They are back in business now, with an almost entirely new menu and new resolve, and they are notably gracious hosts. I don’t know when I’ve been as enthusiastic about all aspects of place as I am about Gather.
The single room is spare and clean under fluorescent lights in a storefront that is both vintage and contemporary, and the glossy black-and-white placemat menus are as well designed as everything else about this little gem. There’s nothing extraneous about the décor — just one flash of color, a 19-star American flag on the wall behind the four-seat bar, instead of bottles.
Our group ordered and happily shared several dishes starting with a dish that a departing party recommended as they left and we entered: chorizo empananas, three meat pies that were so flavorful they didn’t need much of the tomatillo salsa that accompanied them.
They were followed by the Vietnamese bahn mi, basically a pork belly sandwich on French baguette with touches of cabbage slaw, cilantro and mustard and mustard aioli, and cut in sections for easy sharing. We also liked the item with the simple title “corn bread,” with braised greens and sweet corn. Other appealing dishes included “arugula,” a salad including apples, candied walnuts, feta and red onion in bacon vinaigrette. All 15 dishes have one-word titles, and all can be considered specialties.
The menu will change on a seasonal basis, say the Hunts. The small building with a decorative façade of brick and stone is in a row of vintage structures across the street from the Gratiot Central Market. It’s a walk-in place, as befits its convivial atmosphere.
1454 Gratiot, Detroit
Call: (586) 850-0205)
Hours: Dinner only 5-10 p.m. Mon-Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Prices: All small plates, $5-$12, for sharing
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Limited selection of cocktails, beer and wine.
Noise level: Medium
Parking: Street and alley
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding