You know that feeling after you overindulge at a restaurant because the food’s so good and you don’t want to stop the party that’s happening in your mouth? That feeling of, “Ugh, I just ate so much and now I feel gross and maybe a little ashamed”?
I didn’t get that feeling at Gather in Omaha. Did I overindulge? Why, yes, I did. But did I feel gross afterward? No, not in the least. I don’t know if Gather set out to be healthy, but their lack of processed ingredients made for a vibrant experience with no post-meal regrets.
Two pieces of advice kept popping up online prior to my visit:
- Try the mushroom toast.
- Visit the vertical gardens downstairs.
I did both, and I’m glad I did. When the mushroom toast arrived at our table, my husband and I looked at the plate, then at each other, then back at the plate, briefly wishing the other would say, “Oh, you go ahead. I’m not all that hungry.” But after our first bites, we both agreed it was one of the best appetizers we’d experienced in Omaha, and maybe beyond.
A grilled baguette smothered in melted brie and a balsamic reduction chock full of wild mushrooms — the description doesn’t even do the mushroom toast justice. This appetizer somehow managed to be both decadent and light at the same time.
If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you can try any of the other impressive appetizers, such as crispy brussels, hand cut fries or the charcuterie, a selection of house-cured meats and cheeses. There’s also an impressive menu of starter salads, all featuring ingredients from the garden downstairs.
When it came time to choose an entrée, I didn’t get very adventurous but instead went with the fried chicken. I was curious to see how a trendy place like this would interpret an American classic. The chicken is served over a bed of cavatappi noodles with a Mornay sauce and comes with tomato jam and a house-made hot sauce.
The fried chicken had all the crispy goodness you’d expect, but with an elevated flavor. If you’re looking for a less-standard experience, try the elk bolognese, the Korean marinated Wagyu, or the red wine marinated bison. A burger and fries on the menu ensures that even your pickiest friends can find something they will love.
Gather in Omaha’s dessert menu was full of foods I’d happily try, but we settled on the donut holes. They arrived with a variety of dipping sauces and served as a nice crescendo to the meal. The list of cocktails, liquor, wine and beer was dizzying in its vastness.
The staff was friendly and attentive but didn’t intrude upon our eating experience once we got started. I enjoyed the ambience of the dining area and was surprised by how large the restaurant is on the inside. There are patio areas for outdoor seating when the weather allows.
Gather is a great place for a date night, but larger groups can also enjoy the space. The restaurant takes reservations so I recommend doing so. But if you happen to be in the Old Market and want to give this spot a try I suggest taking a chance getting a table.
Gather in Omaha opened just a few months ago, but it seemed to lack any new-restaurant-hiccups. None of the staff seemed to be scrambling or panicked, and there wasn’t a single thing I can point out that should have been different. Had I not already known it was a new-ish restaurant, I wouldn’t have been able to tell based solely on my visit.
The vertical gardens are downstairs to the right of the host stand. Take the short trip to view the garden that grows some of the ingredients used in the restaurant’s food. The plants are all protected behind glass but easy to view. It’s a fun way to feel a little more connected to your dinner.
Farm-to-table is great and all. But this place is garden-downstairs-to-table, making it a truly unique dining experience that’s worth a try, especially if you’re ready to try something new in the Old Market.
My advice to you?
1. Try the mushroom toast.
2. Visit the vertical gardens downstairs.
1108 Howard Street in the Old Market