George

You can gather at home, or in this beautiful restaurant in an historic Masonic Hall, but wherever you choose, Gather’s food will impress and please you.

Our friends Bill Seretta and Lyn Baird, who dine here often, recommended Gather and joined us for dinner there. I was intrigued with the huge space with lots of seating choices, interesting decorations, and the open kitchen where you can watch the staff prepare your meal. You can sit at a long bar on one side, booths on the other side, or individual tables including a large setting that accommodates a group of up to 18 diners.

Dylan, the friendly manager, greeted us and offered a bit of history of the building and restaurant which opened in 2012. I was impressed when Dylan told us he’d moved here from Montana, because he loves Maine. Montana is a great state, too.

The restaurant has become a real, well, yes, gathering place for folks in the Yarmouth area. They host private functions there, and offer innovative and inexpensive “Gather @ Home” meals-to-go, which can be selected from a refrigerated display just inside the entrance, priced at just $6 to $8 each.

Our server, Ginny, was helpful and friendly, never hurrying us while we spent lots of time visiting. Three of us enjoyed Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale ($10). Our shared appetizer of Fried Brussels Sprouts ($8) was really good, buttery and salty. I have to confess I probably ate most of them. They offer an interesting variety of apps including deviled eggs and goat cheese crostini.

They always offer a Butcher’s Plate special ($24), which changes nearly every night, and I had to have it as soon as I noted that it featured pork belly that evening. The spinach and roasted garlic stuffed pork belly included herbs and cheese, and the dish came with a delicious creamy butternut squash, a puff pastry and maitake mushrooms. It was a feast that left no room for dessert.

Linda

Transforming a Masonic Hall into a restaurant strikes me as a pretty cool idea. But when I stepped into Gather, I was so happy to see the kitchen in all its glory housed in the upper recessed alcove. The curving arch defining the edge of the kitchen as if it were a stage and a show was about to be performed, which is exactly what happened.

The kitchen is very open, and diners can watch everything going on. Servers make their way up and down the few steps to the big open dining room delivering amazing dishes. In addition to the bar and tables, there is a quiet area with a couch where customers can enjoy a beverage or food. But the night we were there, I noted a girl of about 10 sitting there off and on reading a book while waiting for dinner to be delivered to her family’s nearby table.

Lyn and Bill, who have a camp near us in the north woods, told us how much they love this restaurant and convinced us to visit. While we caught up with one another, we shared the Brussels sprouts and an order of handcut fries. The crispy outer leaves of the sprouts were sprinkled with coarse salt. There was a lovely balance of soy, lime and sesame in the sauce. Wow, were they good.

We all agreed that we probably didn’t need fries, but I was so glad that we ordered them. These are the real deal. They arrive in a paper cone in a wire stand and it looks like a massive amount. They were perfect and there weren’t any left.

Wednesday night is music night and Skirts and Suits provided nice background throughout the evening. You could enjoy the music and still hear a conversation at our table.

I ordered Nashville Style Hot Chicken for my entree. Delectable extra crispy fried chicken had some heat from cayenne pepper in the breading. The serving of leg and thigh was moist and delicious. The light buttermilk honey biscuit served with the dish was outstanding. House pickled carrots, red onions and cucumber made a great accompaniment.

I found myself checking out the show in the kitchen. The chefs and servers made serving the entire room (that was almost full) look easy. There was no drama going on, just smooth prep and service. Gather serves farm-fresh food, made from scratch and regionally sourced. The menu is seasonal with main plates, artisan pizzas and creative choices for kids. And it’s a restaurant where families are welcomed. Make your way to Yarmouth for a memorable lunch or dinner soon.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.