At many restaurants, the wine list can feel like an afterthought. At chef Jesse Schenker’s The Gander, it sets the tone for the entire meal. Once you settle into the cozy yet impressively large dining room, you’re presented with the most extensive wine list you’ve ever seen. With more than 650 bottles ranging in price from $55 well into the thousands, the thick binder can seem overwhelming to the layman. Thankfully, the staff will be more than happy to help you make a decision.
The dinner menu is much more trim, offering a selection of snacks, small plates and larger dishes that are meant to be shared. Some starters, like the brisket tots ($13), seemed like elevated bar food. The fried pucks of beef and potato needed the spicy mustard for moisture, but hit the spot nonetheless. Others, like the sea trout tartare ($16), seemed to be something more. The tender morsels tasted refreshing and light, especially when served on a strip of fried trout skin, crispy as a chicharron.
On a recent visit, the large plates skewed toward intensely savory, meaty dishes—ideal comfort foods. The duck breast with port wine sauce arrived medium rare, with beautifully rendered, crispy skin ($30). A hot pot of short rib, oxtail and andouille sausage was similarly well executed: the tender beef melted in the mouth, while the slices of carrots and potatoes remained al dente even after being submerged in an ultra savory broth ($28).
As if you needed more, The Gander has plenty of tempting desserts on offer. The deconstructed chai latte—a tea panna cotta served with pieces of espresso sponge, milky ice cream and bittersweet chocolate crumbles—was as tasty as it was intriguing to the eye ($14). It’s nearly impossible not to leave The Gander stuffed—but with food this craveworthy, that’s not a bad thing.
BY TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER: ANNALISE MANTZ