Food is best enjoyed together, and when you’re tucked into the intimate restaurant that is Gatherings, you’ll remember why. After a year spent working on an organic farm north of Christchurch, Alex Davies, the savvy chef turned restaurant owner, used his passion, skills and knowledge to start his own eatery - Gatherings.
Gathering’s menu is rooted in local, accessible and seasonal ingredients - a philosophy that relates to Alex’s desire to look after the planet by being mindful of what we take from it and when. Even fish, he’s learned, have their seasons. This approach earned Gatherings a coveted Cuisine Good Food Awards Hat in 2018 and 2019 but Alex hasn’t stopped there. Gatherings has continued to evolve with both the seasons and the times.
Order your centrepiece. These have included whole roasted flounder with brown butter and citrus emulsion. Alex works with independent fishing boats in NZ, to secure the freshest and most sustainable catches. These fish arrive in house the same day they are served and the difference this makes in flavour is hard to miss.
Pick the rest from a list of kai moana and vegetable dishes like pickled mussels with carrots and coriander seeds, kahawai tartare with rocket emulsion, asparagus and a burnt lemon vinaigrette, decadent potato doughnuts with garlic and anchovies and cos with hazelnuts, garlic and feta. With an array of plates on offer, there’s a perfect balance of familiar and unexplored options. Order as much or as little as you want for your group and enjoy all the dishes family-style, grazing just like you would at home.
Open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner, Gathering’s menu changes frequently depending on what their small scale suppliers have on offer at the moment. But rather than disappointing, the transience of the menu adds to the quiet excitement of eating out. And so does the price point.
Gathering’s wine list is similarly focused on place, flavour and sustainability. With hundreds of bottles tucked away in the cellar, they’ve got pours from all over NZ, all of which are natural - made with minimal technological and zero chemical intervention.
The space features recycled wooden furniture by a local carpenter, small jars of grasses and tussocks adorn tables and warm lighting ensures it feels cosy enough to stay for an hour or two. Artwork hangs on each wall and the crockery comes from New Zealand artisans, too. Weekends see Gatherings become the stage for live music and art events.
Alex and the Gatherings team celebrate Canterbury and greater New Zealand in everything they do. The way they share this with diners is exciting, approachable and without pretension. It’s an invitation to eat something delicious yet simple in a space that feels welcoming, safe and sophisticated all at the same time.