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"Local food" restaurants suck. While I like the "idea" of local foods, I find that local-food restaurants tend to serve really bland and boring dishes that make me wonder if "eating local" is synonymous with eating unseasoned, dry and boring preparations.

Indeed, didn't Columbus cross the ocean in search of spice? Surely all food in Europe in 1492 was local. And, of course, it sucked. Entire empires were built around sending ships across the globe in search of spices and seasonings to make European food palatable.

Fast forward to the present day. Local food is fashionable. We have access to spices from all over the world. But we willingly give them up in favor of some unrealistic notion that you can feed 7 billion people with organic wilted greens and pasture-raised beef.

There are a few vegan options on the menu here, but not as many as I expected. I ended up with a braised mushroom sandwich and a cup of soup ($11). The sandwich was passable, but nothing more. It consisted of marinated chunks of portobello mushrooms served in between two dry, excessively-large pieces of white flour baguette. Why no whole wheat? Why were the bread pieces so damn large, such that they drowned out the meager portion of mushrooms?

The bread was slathered with a cashew puree sauce which was pretty tasty, though. The sandwich didn't come together on a whole, however, and tasted like a to-go sandwich I could get at any simple deli.

The "soup" was a watery soy base with five or six pieces of chickpeas floating in it, alongside some green onions. Not very impressive or tasty.

One of my colleagues got the vegan pizza (which is made with a cashew "cheese"); this, too, was pretty bland, and the cashew sauce lacked any herbs or seasoning. It would have been better if Gather combined the cashews with tofu and herbs to make a kind of pate, instead of a "cheese" that looked and tasted like tahini (which is to say it barely had any taste).

The crust was overly thick as well. The only thing going for this pizza was the sauce, which popped with flavor.

For dessert I had the sole vegan dessert option, a chocolate chip cookie ($2.50). It was dry, mealy and over-baked. It came out crunchy and crystalline rather than soft.

The service was friendly but slow. We'd place a drink order and wait 10 minutes to receive it.

Gather is a disappointment. That said, this might be a decent place to take a mixed crowd, as it's upscale, has lots of space, and vegans can find something on the menu as can non-vegans.

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