Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • November 2014
Written by 

Gather Americana Restaurant — A farm-to-table adventure of the most delicious kind

On my last date I said “I love you” at least 10 times. But I wasn’t talking to my boyfriend — I was addressing my dinner plate.

My declarations of adoration perhaps would have concerned the staff at Gather Americana Restaurant if they weren’t already used to other diners’ passionate responses. I can assure you, such fondness for the cuisine and experience at Gather is completely deserved. The staff and food at this gem of a restaurant took my beau and me on a delicious and truly American gastronomical adventure, one that I beg you to experience yourself as soon as possible!

Let me give you just a taste of what you’ll enjoy at Gather Americana Restaurant.

A hip but welcoming atmosphere

My boyfriend and I long ago learned not to judge an eatery by its cover or, in some restaurants’ cases, its florescent lighting and Formica tabletops. However, we do admit that a pleasant atmosphere certainly adds to the experience of dining out. Gather does not disappoint in its quest to deliver a dynamic but welcoming ambiance. Owner John Chastain and his staff have paired a clean, modern design with warm, rustic touches and a few surprises for a combination that feels truly American.

Gather takes pride in its natural, farm-to-table philosophy, and it only makes sense that an idea so central to the restaurant would echo beyond the menu. Our first sign of Gather’s dedication to local, sustainable food appeared before us in our first steps through the door. Upon entering, we were greeted with perhaps one of the most interesting “art displays” we’d ever seen: a living wall filled with greens and shoots that, according to Gather, might even end up on our plates! But the living wall isn’t just functional, it sends a great message: with care, dedication and a bit of ingenuity, we all can enjoy healthy, flavorful foods without damaging the environment.

The dining room is a perfect example of Gather’s classy but not-too-fussy atmosphere, in part thanks to its upscale rustic elements: gorgeous tin ceiling tiles, a walk-around fireplace, rough-stone accents and reclaimed barn wood walls. You’ll feel just as comfortable dining here with workmates or family as you will on a big date.

In the mood for a drink? Gather’s gorgeous bar top’s curved design is perfect at promoting easy conversation — though the 24 high-quality craft beers on tap and additional bottle options certainly don’t hurt! It’s a perfect place to enjoy a happy hour or simply a well-made cocktail. Plus, two large-screen TVs offer the sports buff in your life a chance to enjoy a game without compromising on food or beverage quality.

For our first visit, my boyfriend and I chose to eat in the atrium, the floor-to-ceiling windows of which offer a bright and airy way to enjoy the sunshine or nighttime lights. We can’t wait to come back during the spring to enjoy a romantic meal on the lovely patio area just outside the atrium.

A staff that has mastered the art of complementary pairings

The team at Gather is friendly and talented, to say the least. These people know their stuff, and they’re happy to share the restaurant’s passion for good food and a good cause with their diners. What amazed us most during our visit was the staff’s knowledge of the food and what flavors and dishes worked best with one another. If complementary pairings are a science, each member of the staff — from the owner to the chef to the servers — has a Ph.D. Their suggestions made a great meal extraordinary.

A local and creative bastion of farm-to-table goodness

Gather bills itself as a “local restaurant with big ideas,” and the restaurant executes those ideas with perfection. Each and every beverage and plate we enjoyed was the pinnacle of freshness. But our experience didn’t just taste good — it also gave us peace of mind, knowing that everything we were served was local, sustainable and naturally grown.

We started our night with drinks that ended up better than we could have imagined. Upon learning that Gather features technically trained mixologists as well as artisanal and locally distilled spirits, my cocktail aficionado beau inquired as to whether they might be able to craft a classic but relatively unknown cocktail, the Aviation. Bartender Shawn did us one better, creating an entirely unique Aviation-inspired drink featuring rosewater that neither of us had ever experienced anything like.

I’ve never really been a big fan of gin-based drinks, but one sip of this cocktail and I was sold. It had a perfectly balanced lemony-floral bouquet that, on that mild October night, felt like a last kiss from summer. It was the perfect bookend to pair with my beverage, Ace Pumpkin Cider, which both smelled and tasted like the coming autumn.

After a few of sips, giddy, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “If the drinks are this good, can you imagine what the food’s going to taste like?” It turns out, neither of us could.

We kicked off our dinner with two small plates: Bruschetta and the popular Bibb & Beet Salad. As I savored my first bite of the best bruschetta I’d ever had, I noticed my boyfriend’s eyes grow wide.

“Have you ever had pecan with bleu cheese?” He asked me. I shook my head. “It will change your life.”

And it did. I’ve never been so happy to eat a salad.

There’s good reason the Bibb & Beet is so popular. If every salad was this intriguing, exciting and just plain good, imagine how much healthier our nation would be. Roasted beets, bibb lettuce, Maytag bleu cheese, radish, carrot, red onion, candied pistachio and red wine vinaigrette: These simple ingredients combine to create a truly wonderful dish, one I can’t recommend enough. The bruschetta’s nothing to sneeze at either with its crunchy crostini, some of the sweetest tomatoes I’ve had in a long time, a bit of saltiness from the shredded parmesan cheese plus a punch of balsamic vinegar.

You can tell from the very first bite that everything at Gather is prepared fresh from scratch. It’s amazing how different you feel after eating at Gather compared to other restaurants. I joked that had I worn my running shoes, I might take a few laps around the block after our meal; I felt that energized and nourished by our perfectly proportioned food.

Next we enjoyed the White Wine Steamed Mussels and House Fries. The mussels, a limited edition to the menu, were served in their own white wine broth seasoned with garlic and thyme.

“Do you think Ryan [our server] would be frightened if I asked for a to-go container of enough of this broth to bathe in?” I asked my boyfriend. His raised eyebrow was enough to convince me to leave poor Ryan alone.

The mussels and their broth paired wonderfully with the crispy from-scratch fries, which were seasoned with parsley and Belgioioso parmesan. The fries were served with beet “ketchup” made from fresh local beets — an intriguing and scrumptious take on a classic condiment!

While enjoying our dishes we overheard the two women at a table near us exclaim about their food.

“Ridiculous Burger? More like ridiculously good burger!” One of the women said of the ⅓-pound ground-beef, grass-fed burger topped with roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, Wisconsin Swiss, garlic mayonnaise, and truffle oil served on Breadsmith brioche.

We nearly regretted not ordering the burger, but then Ryan delivered our main event: the Salmon Cakes and the House Smoked Bone-In Pork Chop. The cakes were fresh and crispy but not greasy, as fresh as ones you’d get on the eastern seaboard.

The pork chop was spectacular. My beau, who grew up in South Dakota mere feet from some of the finest grass-fed, free-range beef cattle in the world, commented that this was one of the finest cuts of meat he’d ever had. The chop was topped with local pear and apple compote and served alongside molasses-glazed sweet potato and sautéed spinach with chili oil. The pork chop paired wonderfully with the delightfully hoppy beer recommended by owner John himself, whose vision led to Gather and who is just as nice and knowledgeable as his servers and chefs.

We ate these dishes without speaking, save for the occasional, “Oh, this is so good!” from me and two thumbs up from my boyfriend. When we finished, I asked our waiter to give himself and everyone in the kitchen a hug on our behalf. It was, without a doubt, the best meal I’ve ever had.

We finished up with an individual Wisconsin cherry pie baked that day and topped with salted caramel gelato. The dessert was almost too cute to eat — almost. My boyfriend and I locked spoons more than once trying to get the last few bites.

An entirely unique local experience

To quote the BBC comedy show “Good Neighbours,” Gather’s food truly “tastes like food.” The restaurant will impress foodies and sustainability-minded diners alike — even people who just want to enjoy a “ridiculously good burger” and tasty fries.

It’s not just fresh, local ingredients that you can taste in every bite at Gather; it’s the passion and care that’s gone into every aspect of the experience that makes this restaurant unlike any other. Do yourself a favor and visit today.

Gather Americana Restaurant

Gather features a menu that’s always changing, local ingredients, a deli, grab-and-go options, and much more!

231 S. Nicolet Road, Appleton

920-750-7290 •

Open Monday through Saturday

Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (by reservation only)

Lunch: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dinner: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday

Bar: 11 a.m. to close

Deli: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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