9 November 2020

Hot in the City: Gather Cafe brings people together around sensational, nutritious food

| Michelle Taylor
Dominic Soriano

Dominic Soriano (manager and partner of Gather), chef Mark Howard and co-owner Will Fisher. Photos: Michelle Taylor.

Brunched at Braddon lately? This flourishing suburb continues to roll out innovative, edgy dining options. So many the breadth of choice can feel overwhelming. As increasingly informed consumers, this knowledge complicates our choices further.

More and more, we expect restaurants and cafes to be using locally and ethically sourced produce, and we are interested in knowing the story of that produce. We eat with our eyes first and want to order the dish that will draw food-envy from our friends and followers when we post pictures on social media. Most of all, when we eat out, the food has to be yummy.

Cafe Gather, in the centre of Braddon, ticks all those boxes and then takes it one step further. Not only is its food delicious, sustainable and locally sourced, it is also really good for you. Its accolades reflect the high calibre of the Gather experience. Gather won the most recent Restaurant and Catering (R&CA) Award for Excellence as ACT Café of the Year, as well as ACT Café Dining 2019.


Colourful, nourishing and delicious.

Co-owner Will Fisher and his business partner Mars Heleta already run a coffee shop, Wreckless by LSR in the Canberra Centre, and a new bar in the city, Blackbird.

Will gestures around Gather’s space: “When we saw this place, half-built, on the market, we knew we wanted it.”

The café itself is a compact space, yet the clever use of floor-to-ceiling windows throughout makes Gather feel open and airy, letting in the glorious sunshine. Greenery dangles from the high ceiling and brightens up the corners of the café. Outdoor seating tempts diners out into the warm spring air.

As a “mecca for clean eating”, the folk at Gather put their money where their mouth is.

Their newest chef, Mark Howard, is a trained nutritionist who, in previous jobs, has worked at the Institute of Sport and collaborated with the godmother of sports nutrition, Louise Burke.

A plate of Dos Panqueques

The colourful plate of Dos Panqueques.

“Mark’s ethos fits perfectly with the Gather concept of food: it’s got to be healthy, got to be colourful, got to be tasty,” Will says.

Coming up to its 2nd birthday, Gather’s five chefs create new dishes collaboratively, and everyone is able to contribute their own skills and flair.

“It’s a small menu, but every dish is a crowd pleaser,” chef Mark says.

The Dos Panqueques look too pretty to eat: two robust cornmeal pancakes that don’t turn into mush under the toppings piled high. The raspberry ice-cream is lush and tangy against the aromatic cardamom anglaise and all pristine fruit slices.

The veggie quesadilla stack stands tall. Filled with veggies, caramelised fennel, brown rice and quinoa, cashew cheese with chipotle lime mayo and herb salad alongside, they are flavoursome and filling. The tortillas stayed crunchy too, so a big tick from me.

Winter gather bowl

The winter gather bowl.

Some places just have a knack for making a salad exciting and hearty. My winter gather bowl is an example of that mysterious wizardry. The textures and flavours in one mouthful piques the interest of my fickle tastebuds.

Pops of colour, bursts of salty, sweet, sour, smooth and crunchy. Pickled eggplant, toasted pepitas, a perfectly done egg, beetroot hummus and hearty brown rice. Yummo!

Gather is known for house-made kombucha and fresh juices. They use premium organic teas, unrefined sugar and freshly cold-pressed fruits to create invigorating kombucha flavours that promote gut health. Their current flavours are apple cinnamon, orange-ginger and raspberry-lemon. The raspberry and lemon notes of my kombucha make it fresh and the subtle fizz is a pleasant surprise.

The juices are delightful. The fresh and fruity green juice is bursting with the tang of apple, kale, spinach, lemon and ginger. But I keep going back for another taste of the orange, carrot and mandarin juice, usually a combination I would avoid. The full ripe tang of mandarin lingers on the palate.

Gather kombucha

Gather is known for house-made kombucha and fresh juices.

There are plenty of breakfast options and quick order wraps and sandwiches on the menu. Dishes can be tweaked to fit in with dietary requirements.

If you want to implement healthy eating into your everyday life and don’t know where to start, Chef Mark is available for consultations. Not only will he help design a meal plan around your specific dietary requirements, he will also teach you how to create the meals at home.

Cafe Gather is located at 4/24 Mort St in Braddon. It is open from 7:00 am at 3:15 pm on weekdays, from 8:00 am to 3:15 pm on Saturdays and from 8:00 am to 3:15 pm on Sundays.

Visit their Facebook and Instagram to see vibrant plates of food and meet some of the team. To see the local producers Gather partners with, scroll down the bottom of the about page on their website.

Original Article published by Michelle Taylor on The RiotACT.

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