Tried out Chef Schenker’s new restaurant, The Gander, a couple nights ago and bottom line, it was good, very good actually.
The space is nice, starts off with a long-ish narrow bar area that looks really comfortable (I think this will be a very popular after work bar), this opens up into a large, square, dining room with a high ceiling. The room is ringed with banquets around the perimeter on 3 sides and some hybrid booth/banquets on the 4th, there are several 4 tops that can expand to handle 6 (?) in the center of the room. The dining room is understated in a very good way. Even when the room was full, the sound, IMO, was never offensive; it was nicely energetic.
We were promptly seated and someone was to our table almost immediately with drink and food menus, asked our water preference and by the time they got back with water we had decided on cocktails to start. I had a cocktail with mezcal, manzanilla sherry, and apple pie bitter and my GF had a Rhubarb Gin mule. Both drinks were a nice start to a meal, not too boozy or sweet.
Initially we were going to each order a snack, an appetizer, and a main, but decided to just order snacks and mains once the snacks arrived and we realized it would be too much food. I had the Buffalo sweetbreads and my GF had the Fava bean and ricotta crostini. The Sweetbreads were really good, a lot of the time anything that's get's "buffalo-ed" winds up getting lost but these managed to retain all their sweetbread signature taste and texture, paired with a nice beer this was a great choice . The fava bean and ricotta had a lovely creaminess that ended with a nice earthiness from the beans. For the main dishes, I ordered the Roasted Branzino with lentils and celery root. Branzino is one of my favorite fish and this turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for, nice skin, perfect flesh, lentils with just the right amount of bite to them, yum, very successful dish . GF had the Beet Tortellini with goat yogurt, coconut, and almonds. The pasta was interesting and tasty, and even though the goat yogurt cut the sweetness of the coconut, it ultimately was a sweeter dish than what my GF normally prefers. If you enjoy a sweeter savory course, this may be right up your alley. We also ordered the baby carrots as a side and they were wonderful, nice caramelization and deep carrot-y flavor.
We finished with a cheese plate and some wine, very impressed with their generous portions and variety of the four cheeses.
Chef happened to be standing near by, asked how we liked everything, I mentioned GF was a vegetarian and he said he couldn't wait until more seasonal vegetables are available so he can really get some interesting veg focused stuff on the menu.
Service was good, still some (very) minor start up hiccups but it was friendly, attentive, plates were removed quickly (a couple times almost too quickly) but overall the staff knows their stuff.
We will definitely be returning.
Oh, and they will start serving lunch on (I think) 21 April.
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