Gather Mixes A Casual And Sophisticated Menu | Lincoln Square, Chicago

A Lincoln Square newcomer with staying power

The menu at Gather is littered with the hallmarks of a casual neighborhood restaurant: chili, hummus, steak and a burger, to name a few.

But there's abundant sophistication, too, at this Lincoln Square newcomer from a Charlie Trotter's alum.

That burger? With the exception of the Wisconsin cheddar, it's house-made, from brioche bun to thick-cut bacon ($14). Topped with caramelized onions and roasted red-pepper aioli, it's one of the best we've had other than Au Cheval.

It's best paired with dishes that capitalize on chef Ken Carter's dexterity, like winter squash soup ($10), a silken blend of kabocha, acorn and butternut squash studded with lobster, stewed raisins and croutons. Order tempura ($9) for the table, with eggplant, mushrooms and watercress cased in supremely crisp batter–the latter inspired by the crispy on choy (watercress) at ATK.

Brandade with potato blinis ($10) is made for sharing, too, worth ordering if only for the joy of nibbling on the flavorful, fluffy pancakes and lemon conserve that grace the serving plate.

Request a seat at the counter along the open kitchen. There, Carter will ply you with extra bites of "random inspirations" (his term) he's had during the day. On our visit, it was a single tortellini stuffed with liquefied provolone and truffle–a simple but inspiring bite, indeed.

Gather, 4539 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-506-9300 or