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Dining Review: Gather in Cape Coral

People are flocking to the new waterfront home of cutting-edge cocktails and cuisine in the Cape.



Cocoa-braised pork cheeks over roasted tomato and basil polenta

Vanessa Rogers

 

The first time I visited Gather at the upscale Tarpon Point Marina in southwest Cape Coral—for a profile of its owners, the same foursome who own Fathoms—I was struck by two simultaneous thoughts. First: This place is gorgeous. And, second: I hope it stays open. With its stylishly decorated interior and forward-looking menu, I worried that the uber-cool eatery might be ahead of its time. But after a recent dinner there, those worries have disappeared. The restaurant and its bar were packed, and Gather seems to have claimed its place in the Southwest Florida dining scene.

Spicy chorizo and cilantro shrimp

Like many on-trend restaurants now, Gather has the kind of fun and inventive cocktail menu that makes ordering a glass of wine or a pint of beer seem so last century. So I started the evening with their Piscolada ($10), a blend of pineapple juice, coconut rum, coconut cream and coconut-infused pisco served with a dollop of salted lime whipped cream on top. Tropical and delicious, it combined all the best parts of a piña colada with a pisco sour.

To begin our meal, my dining companion and I started with the crispy duck wings ($12) and the spicy chorizo and cilantro shrimp ($16). In theory, the duck wings should not have been surprising. After all, how different can a duck wing be from a chicken wing?

“Wow,” my friend said after her first bite. “These are incredible.”

“Are they different than chicken wings?” I asked.

“Totally.”

They were richer and more flavorful, and after I tried one, I realized that comparing them to chicken wings was like comparing filet mignon to chopped steak.

Crispy duck wings

The spicy shrimp and chorizo, served in a flavorful tomato broth with grilled bread for dipping, was also wow-worthy.

“Mmm,” my friend said with her initial taste, and then also for the next few minutes.

For her main course, my friend ordered the cocoa-braised pork cheeks ($22), and, served over roasted tomato and basil polenta, that was equally mmm-inducing. The meat was fork-tender, and the cocoa in the sauce gave the dish a heady richness. For my entrée, I selected the Australian barramundi ($24), a white fish similar to sea bass that I don’t see on menus often. The fish was served atop an eggplant, pine nut and citrus risotto and accompanied by a drizzle of black truffle foam. Though it was enjoyable, it wasn’t quite on-par with the other plates that evening.

Grand Marnier chocolate mousse

For dessert, we were offered just two choices, both of them elegant: a vanilla bean crème brûlée ($8) and a Grand Marnier chocolate mousse ($8). The crème brûlée was exceptional—firm and lightly sweet, with a crackly sugar crust. Not to be outdone, the mousse had just the right blend of bittersweet chocolate and liqueur.

And my initial worries about Gather’s future? Completely put to rest. With food like that, plus an interior that makes you want to ask for the number of the decorator, Gather is a place people will visit again and again.

5971 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral, 239-673-9939, gathercape.com. Open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight. Closed Mondays. Wheelchair-accessible. No reservations.

 

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