Krista Cole has added nice touches to the decor at Gather since she bought the Yarmouth restaurant last year. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

You’d never guess by looking at the star rating, but this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write. I’ve lost sleep over this one and have also returned to Yarmouth’s Gather for a second meal, just to make absolutely certain I get the facts right. And still, it’s difficult to convey what’s happening there.

When I reviewed Gather in 2019, my three-star writeup focused on the welcoming aspects of the space and my admiration for then-owner Matt Chappell’s farm-to-table ethos. Chappell sold the restaurant to Krista Cole in 2022, not long before Sur Lie, her Portland small-plates restaurant, earned her a semifinalist nod in the 2023 James Beard Awards cycle.

“You know, I never had any intention, no thought of buying another restaurant,” she said. “But I loved the space and the community, and our values aligned, so I saw it as an opportunity to take what they had done and to put our own twist on it.”

Cole was a natural fit for Gather. Local sourcing and careful attention to the community are two pillars of her business philosophy, and I imagine that Yarmouth must have been delighted when she stepped in as sole proprietor last year.

She is also quite literally the hardest-working multiple restaurant owner I’ve ever seen. At both of my recent visits to Gather, there was Cole: wiping down tables, delivering drinks, emptying the dishwasher, even rearranging patio furniture – pitching in as a colleague, not idling by the bar or hiding away in an office. I’ve seen her do the same at Sur Lie. Where does she find the time?

I think if I owned Gather, I’d also want to be there as much as I could. The converted Masonic lodge has only gotten more charming since Cole took over. Pendant chandeliers suspended over the 18-seat communal table are now draped in greenery, making them look like illuminated, ivy-covered nests. The kitschy farm equipment has been taken down from the walls, and in its place, graphical, woodcut-inspired décor emphasizes the appealing simplicity of the restaurant’s brand.


As a place to drink, the new Gather is a gem. Cole, together with general manager Mickey Mills, has put together a wine list featuring lesser-known offerings like Sanctum Lisica, a dry pinot noir from Slovenia that tastes of sour cherries ($15/glass).

Sweet Pea Sour is made with house-infused lemon-and-peapod oleo saccharum. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Gather’s perspective on cocktails is locally minded and whimsical. On my first visit, I drank a May Flower ($15), a riff on a classic Aviation, made here not with crème de violette, but with home-brewed lilac syrup and a lilac-sugar rim. On my next visit, I sipped a stunning green Sweet Pea Sour ($15) on the roomy brick patio, gleefully smacking my lips as I told my dinner guest that I prefer this Maine-inspired version made with house-infused lemon-and-peapod oleo saccharum to the classic Peruvian pisco sour.

Here’s where things get rough. The food at Gather is uneven, ranging from above average to dismal. Desserts are an especially weak domain for the restaurant. My first meal ended with a Wrinkle in Thyme ($14), a phyllo-based cake with the texture of fossilized bread pudding and not much flavor apart from honey. The dish’s single good element was a scoop of homemade date-orange ice cream that ought to have been served solo.

My second visit concluded with lemon cake with an in-season Maine blueberry compote ($14). I loved the sweet, inky fruit sauce and the way it echoed back the flavor of the lemon-coconut curd. But the egg-free cake itself reminded me of something a kid might sculpt out of beach sand – the instant I touched it with my silverware, it disintegrated into a pile of citrus-flavored dust.

Gather’s smash burger is a toasted brioche bun filled with a thick, well-seared Farmers Gate ground beef patty topped with smoked gouda, caramelized onions and a creamy Boursin sauce. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

As is true of many chefs, executive chef Michelle Morrison, formerly of Nikanos in Ogunquit, seems to be on better footing with savory items. Her smash burger ($23), a toasted brioche bun filled with a thick, well-seared Farmers’ Gate ground beef patty topped with smoked gouda, caramelized onions and a creamy Boursin sauce, was satisfying and counts as one of two dishes I’d order again.

Baked cod with olive salad is a highlight at Gather. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The other is baked cod ($33) with tender roasted cauliflower and an herby green-olive relish that reminded me of a Provencal pistou. Every aspect of this dish (apart from undertoasted panko) was balanced and prepared well. Proof, perhaps, that the issues in the kitchen aren’t a lack of skill or potential.


Burrata with zucchini and fennel at Gather. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Other menu items were decent, with flaws that prevented them from achieving the kind of harmony you’d expect when you’re paying upwards of $15 for a small plate and $29 for most mains. Burrata with golden raisins, mandoline-shaved zucchini and fennel, pea shoots, grapefruit and a large slice of homemade focaccia ($16) had all the makings of a lovely starter, but there was too much happening on the plate. Was it actually a salad? Either way, the dish tasted mostly of salt and oil, and needed much more of the acid that the two lonely supremed wedges of grapefruit provided.

Watermelon salad ($15) was let down by the very same issue: not enough acidity to balance out the sweetness of salty feta, chunks of sweet watermelon and oily, overdressed arugula. Pickled strawberries should have done the trick, but they seem to have been homeopathically pickled with the quantum imprint of vinegar, rather than enough acid to equilibrate the dish.

Pork schnitzel ($32) appeared promising. “Just look at that!” our server exclaimed as she left the dish at the table. A gorgeous-looking plate, especially the glossy, brilliant green spears of asparagus. Here though, the whole-grain mustard-speckled sauerkraut mayonnaise had split, and the fondant potatoes underneath the cutlet were undercooked, underseasoned and chalky.

Conversely, potatoes were the strongest part of the Maine lobster “dip” starter ($16), where an oversized and nicely fried Swiss rösti (Cole accurately described it as “a grown-up version of a hash brown”) cozied up to several spoonfuls of a vibrant pickled corn relish. Slumped on top, a huge, dribbly quenelle of cream cheese and mascarpone. But, as a man at the six-top next to my table asked aloud, “Where the heck is the lobster?!” Indeed. I found a few bits in the mound of soft cheese, but very little. Moreover, how does this count as a dip? What gets dipped into what? I’d compare the dish to something else, but I’ve never eaten anything similar. I probably won’t again.

Unfortunately, a few dishes were complete flops, like lightly breaded, deep-fried calamari and wild rice ($19) drowned in enough sweet chili sauce to eradicate any trace of another flavor. Or Peruvian chicken ($32), salty enough to count as a bar snack and served over a hulking portion of woody plantains so undercooked that I could not cut them without a steak knife. There was no disguising how little of this dish my guest and I ate, but upon seeing the plate at the end of the meal, our server seemed to understand. “Oops, I’ve seen a few of those go back recently,” she said by way of an apology. “Things are a little off tonight,” she added.

That was apparent from my vantage point at the base of the dais where Gather’s open kitchen sits. It is essentially a large stage with sight lines that allow everyone to see and hear what’s happening in the back-of-house.


On my first visit, I heard Morrison yell across the entire restaurant to get the attention of staff and watched the clearly under-the-weather chef wipe her nose and cough open-mouthed or into gloveless hands that were used to plate food and clean the rims of plates immediately afterward.

Anyone who has worked in a restaurant can tell you that people come to work sick. That’s not unusual, even though, after a global pandemic, it should be. But if you’re on a stage in front of your entire clientele and you’re not well, you should at least wear a mask when you’re running the pass. People notice.

“Those people are sick, and I think I want to leave, sweetie,” the older woman at a neighboring table announced to her husband. They had only ordered drinks, and when her husband went to close out their bill, he walked to the bar to pay. Krista Cole was there to swipe his card, and guess who hustled back to clear their table herself a few minutes later? Just imagine if she were also a chef.

WHERE: 189 Main St., Yarmouth. 847-3250.
SERVING: Wednesday to Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers: $15-25, Entrees: $23-34
NOISE LEVEL: Summer stock theater
VEGETARIAN: Some dishes
BAR: Beer, wine, cocktails
BOTTOM LINE: When Sur Lie owner Krista Cole bought Gather in 2022, she streamlined the former Masonic lodge’s busy décor and created a clear brand identity for the farm-to-table stalwart. With a wine list peppered with unusual selections and a whimsical, seasonally oriented cocktail list – try the May Flower and the Sweet Pea Sour if they’re on the menu – this Yarmouth space is a wonderful place for a drink inside or out. Despite a small menu, food at Gather lags behind the beverage program and is, unfortunately, sometimes subpar. Stick to dishes like panko-crusted cod with smashed fingerling potatoes and olive relish, or the Boursin-and-smoked-gouda-topped smash burger, both of which are solid choices. Skip dessert and instead buy a drink for Cole, whose hustle and dedication are unparalleled.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service, value and type of restaurant (a casual bistro will be judged as a casual bistro, an expensive upscale restaurant as such):

* Poor
** Fair
*** Good
**** Excellent
***** Extraordinary

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits each restaurant once; if the first meal was unsatisfactory, the reviewer returns for a second. The reviewer makes every attempt to dine anonymously and never accepts free food or drink.

Andrew Ross has written about food and dining in New York and the United Kingdom. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is the recipient of five recent Critic’s Awards from the Maine Press Association.

Contact him at:
Twitter: @AndrewRossME

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