Berkeley’s Gather Expanding to Marbella Space on Polk

The front bar area at Marbella.
The front bar area at Marbella. Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

The team behind popular Berkeley eating and drinking spot Gather, Eric Fenster, Ari Derfel and chef Sean Baker, are close to signing a lease on the former Café Rex/Marbella space (2323 Polk Street), vacant since early November. As the Chron reports this a.m., the new restaurant won’t be called Gather, but it will have a similar ethos in terms of its local, organic ingredients and balance between vegetarian/vegan dishes and omnivore fare, and Baker — who was named Chef of the Year by Esquire in 2010 — will serve as chef at both places. Also, says Fenster, “Since there are fewer seats, we can refine the cuisine a little bit.” And because of the space’s prominent, recently remodeled bar, cocktails will be a focus as well (the Berkeley restaurant already has a great, if small cocktail program focusing on local spirits and seasonal fruits and herbs). Will the vegan charcuterie make a repeat appearance? We shall see. Opening date is TBA, but look for updates in a couple of months. [Chron]