IN THE KITCHEN It’s not unusual to see chef-owner Shelton Perkins wander into the dining room at Gather in Pembroke and talk with guests. The chef and his partner, Nick Wilson, are as intentional about creating a place where people can gather to slow down and share a meal as they are about good food. “Quality food, quality time” is the restaurant’s tagline. Wilson runs the front of house, and Perkins takes care of the kitchen. “We do comfort food taken up a notch,” said Perkins, whose resume includes sous-cheffing at Stephanie’s on Newbury in Boston. Gather is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and both the breakfast and lunch menus are offered all the time. The restaurant also offers a prix-fixe, three-course Sunday family dinner that you need to reserve in advance, and an extensive catering menu.
THE LOCALE Gather is on Route 27 in the Bryantville area of Pembroke with its many large lakes and rural feel. The 34-seat dining room is warm and bright, welcoming with friendly servers, and has a homey yet professional feel. The partners renovated the former Mayflower Grove Grill before opening in February 2018, bringing in several farmhouse tables that get moved in and out depending on what’s happening in the restaurant. Perkins and Wilson offer pop-up cooking classes and host private events off hours. There’s counter seating, communal tables, and a row of two- and four-tops. Oh, and definitely add Gather to your list of great outdoor eating places: The front porch seats an additional 22.
ON THE MENU The menu offers all the great American breakfast dishes along with some of Perkins’s specialties, including corned beef breakfast poutine and a breakfast pot pie. There are create-your-own omelets and egg dishes with potatoes or a salad, mixed fruit, French toasts, vanilla butter for pancakes, and real maple syrup. Lunch includes two salads, a burger, and a few sandwiches. Everything can be made with gluten-free bread. The family-friendly kids’ menus are smaller and include French toast sticks and corndogs. Check out the upcoming Sunday family dinners online for each three-course menu: They range from salmon to fried chicken to brined pork chops with all the trimmings.
Lots of places overlook regular brewed coffee, but Gather’s is very good. Half and half comes in a little pitcher. Nice. The owners’ desire to create a friendly community place must be working because the woman sitting at the next table one morning couldn’t help but rave to me about the avocado Benedict ($13) and she was right. Served on a rectangular white plate, the grilled English muffins are spread with guacamole, topped with poached eggs, covered with Hollandaise, and sprinkled with goat cheese and scattered pomegranate seeds. (The seeds add an appreciable pop of flavor.) On my next visit, another woman started talking to me, this time to tell me how great the burgers were and how Gather is the best place around for breakfast and lunch. I couldn’t argue with that while devouring a plate of the something hearty ($12): a platter of scrambled eggs, great potatoes and pancakes, very nicely done bacon, and a grilled English muffin. I can also vouch for the breakfast burrito ($12): a tasty concoction of scrambled eggs, veggies or a breakfast meat, home fries and sweet potatoes encased in a flour tortilla and served in a sea of mornay sauce. To lighten things up, order it as a breakfast burrito bowl. Or, try the sweet potato and arugula salad ($10) with grilled (hormone-free) chicken added-on ($4). It’s good.
Gather, 35 School St., Pembroke, 781-754-0931, gatherandeat.com.Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.