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A casual Italian Trattoria in a beautiful setting.
Entering The Gathering's gate, you're welcome with now popular icon of the concept -the olive tree - you reach a blue door with a sign: The Italian Cookery.
The waiters are very polite and welcoming making sure your first impression is a 10/10.
After being seated, a special mix of oil and white cheese with warm bread were served to start with and Pomace home collection pepper grinder. The smell of hot bread was overwhelming while we were browsing four pages of the menu. I liked the menu; simple, printed on recycled paper with the prices hand written with a normal pen to follow the prices of the ingredients depending on the season and availability since everything at The Gathering is organic and fresh.
On the menu you can clearly read the following: "The gathering is a good friend of the earth, all our products and actions are Eco friendly"
I appreciated two things at the Gathering: The way the water is served and the choice of Coca-Cola instead of Pepsi. These two things haunt me everything every time I try a new place. What I hate is being served water in a plastic water bottle, which thankfully they don't have! Instead water is served in an orange glass bottle, very nice.
And the choice of choosing between Coke and Pepsi made me smile for the first time in a restaurant in Lebanon. Yes, I drank a Coca-Cola in a restaurant in Beirut. Finally!
The menu with this note written "The gathering is an invitation to come together. It is a feast of friends, laughter, and family warmth. All our products are naturally wholesome, and meticulously chosen for their exceptional worth. It is in our culture to remain eclectic, and share the goodness", is divided into different sections: Starters, Salads, Organic Pizza, Pasta, Risotto, Platters and Sides.
Simple and straight to the point, couple of choices in each without too much philosophy.
If, by any chance, your choice is not found in the Italian menu, you can ask the waiters to get you whatever you desire from both neighbors, the grill or the bar.
- A special of the day, The Burrata: It's a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is also defined by some sources as an outer shell of mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and sugar. It is served fresh, at room temperature with an assortment of small cherry tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The name "burrata" means "buttered" in Italian.
- Eggplant gratin and mozzarella with tomato sauce and parmesan.
- The Salmon and Mascarpone Pizza with peppercorns, capers and chives.
- Spaghetti with olive oil and cherry and dried tomatoes, basil and black olives.
- Potato wedges with Rosemary as a side order.
- Pain Perdu, or French toast for dessert with its mouthwatering incredible scent: Milk, sugar and cinnamon are added before frying, and then it is topped with sugar and butter and accompanied with a raspberry sauce and vanilla ice-cream.
The overall dining experience was nice: I liked the waiters' uniform, nice and professional, Orders were taken on a special iPhone application, very modern, the waiters attitude their nice attitude and professional approach. The interior design, the decorative items and details, the food temperature and service. The nice cutlery, cups and plates and many other things which fill the hour with joy.
But unfortunately I didn't feel the same about the food. I was expecting magic, something out of this world. Reading the press releases and knowing that The Gathering is for the same owners of DownTown... I was expecting a dining celebration.
Let me tell you why:
- The pasta is to the limit of being tasteless until you reach the bottom and eat the olives. That dish needs additional salt to give it a hint of taste.
- The potato wedges were soaked in oil which gave me a heart burn; we asked for another plate of wedges but unfortunately it came back with the same mistake and taste. The head waiter apologized, and promised to change the potato quality as it absorbs a lot of oil. I really appreciated that initiative.
- Salmon pizza is more like a open salmon sandwich with cream cheese. Pizza dough is crusty but very thin giving it a very dry finish. Every bite is very dry and lacks taste as well. Salmon slices and dough should have been thicker to feel the oil of the salmon.
- I loved the eggplant gratin and the burrata as they are really fresh and tasty.
Three things I would change:
- Make sure waiters are available at all time and not waiting next to the bar and looking at the view outside. Whenever a restaurant has several rooms, waiters should stay in the room waiting for a request.
- Print a dessert menu so we can see the ingredients and choose calmly. The desserts I remember from the waiter were: "Citron et Orange Givrer", Tiramisu, Mistere (I don't know what that is, so would have liked to read it on the menu) and Pain Perdu.
- The Pain Perdu by the way is special. I won't say better than others in town because it needs to absorb more milk, but making it in a ball shape is new for me as all others make it in a simple square bread.
- I love the orange glass water bottle concept but I need to know the water I am drinking. Since the glass bottle has no branding, it is very important even a necessity to put the logo of the water served on the menu.
When you expect more and get less, it is a disappointment, so I would suggest you go enjoy an overall experience starting from the decoration to the ambiance and don't be picky as I admit to be sometimes.