Just when you think you’ve seen every type of restaurant and dining experience that the local scene has to offer, up pops an original piece of culinary comfort that you dared not expect, that absolutely must be revealed. An intended bazaar like street scene that seamlessly melds the indoors with the outdoors, thanks in no small part to two entire walls of windows that easily tuck up and away for your uninhibited dining pleasure, the result feels much more like being in a café on the Avenue de Champs-Élysées as you gather with friends and family for a relaxed atmosphere, a wonderful array of delicious and inventive foods, as the breeze blows on by you; this may just become your new favorite meeting spot.
We can thank the last minute pullout from an all but done deal, to bring yet another franchised coffee shop to the region, for the wonderfully eclectic and comforting beauty that is The Gathering. Yes- in the 11th hour, some head honcho changed seats in some office far away, thus leaving our two young, local entrepreneurs holding the bag on a new spot, a rental agreement, and a dream about to go bust. But what follows is poised to be local legend: in a fit of creative fortitude they opted to simply recreate the mellow ambiance and relaxed atmosphere of the times that they share together with friends and family at the diwaniya: hence The Gathering name. This simple decision shaped the entirety of the culture of the restaurant that followed. With their stated aim to specifically be the local answer to the bistro—that perfect sweet spot between a fine dining place and the café—here they hit the mark perfectly.
But enough pontification about backstory and setting: let’s get down to the menu, as it is all for naught if they can’t deliver in the kitchen; fortunately for us, they do! As for the menu itself, it is diverse and full of options. Yet, despite so many choices, they almost all remain as different enough so as to not just be the normal expected choices. For my part, the, Potato Bomb starter alone is reason enough to keep coming back: a baseball-sized mashed potato ball, stuffed with two types of cheeses, breaded, lightly fried, and then covered with more cheese and a tangy thousand island-ish sauce—to die for. Even for the health conscious out there-this should be your cheat day meal no doubt (followed by the pasta of course, but that’s coming); as we all know, there is nothing worse than wasting your cheat day meal on a lackluster plate of “the norm.” Also notable here is that the Squash, Zucchini, and Asparagus salad was wonderfully light with the freshest of ingredients by comparison. I didn’t try the soups myself, but they definitely appear to be up to par with the rest.
For main entrée’s you have a choice of pastas, pizzas, burgers of various types, as well as comfort foods like Mac and cheese or Casseroles. However, despite the goodness of especially both the Veal Escalope and the Fillet Steak, I feel I would be remiss if I did not describe for you in detail the exquisiteness that is their Cartucho Pasta: first, they take a corkscrew pasta, then add pesto sauce, then add pink sauce (which is just a marinara mixed with a fettuccine; i.e. red+white=pink, less it somehow sound less than pleasing), cover it in cheese, wrap it in foil—and bake it. This truly was comfort food at its finest.
As for the desserts, the cookie pie and the red velvet pudding were both the best desserts I have had in a long time. Just the right amount of cookie crispness balanced with a molten center on both of these made them delightful. The fact that I had never even seen this done before with the now infamous red velvet recipe, made it all the more amazing. You got the feeling that you were equal parts enjoying the finished product, and sneaking into the kitchen to taste the batter, albeit warmed to perfection: the kid in you will rejoice! The fact that a random person, apparently a regular, stopped by our table in the midst of the review to scold the owner for not providing us her favorite—The Cholocate Overdose—tells me that a returned trip is in order soon. She swears to its life-changing ability, and her passion convinced me it must be true!
There are a couple of other notable points here. First, you have to admire a company that is working to involve the community. Their most recent challenge allowed teams of local high school kids to compete in a dessert creation contest for the restaurant. The winning team’s entry, whose concoction is dubbed The Golden Triangle, is a samosa, stuffed with Nutella and served with a caramel and peanut butter dipping sauce, is now regularly available to order. That’s not all though: 20% of the sales from these desserts go back to funding the kids organizations involved in creating them; not just the winners of the competition mind you, but all who participated. That is pretty amazing. Additionally, for those of you out there who suffer from twitter-gram-book-itus, (a very concerning new medical trend for those who cannot be torn away from social media) and only like to go where those in the know do…they have a board on the wall that tells you what your favorite local bloggers love as well.
The day is still young for these guys, in that, they have only been open for about 6 months. Still, I personally contend that this is exactly the kind of restaurant that Kuwait needs more of. A small place run by local guys who love what they are doing, providing an innovative menu in an interesting local. The best of what eating out anywhere is all about. They are currently delivering in the area of Salhiya, but are looking to expand that territory soon. Also, though their hours are currently noon to 11pm nightly, they will soon be expanding into breakfast as well—I for one, cant wait!
The Gathering is located in Salhiya Noor Complex (in front Of Salhiya Complex and behind Someday Cafe) Salhiya, Kuwait City. Reach them by phone at: 2244 9091, or follow them on twitter: @gatheringkw