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“You have got to try this.”

The Gathering Table Restaurant
Ranked #1 of 1 Restaurants in Ballard
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $15 - $40
Cuisines: Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Alamo Pintado
Description: Among the most exceptional and sophisticated Ballard, California restaurants is The Gathering Table. With its captivating and comfortable atmosphere, The Gathering Table is the perfect place for friends and family to come together for a warm, social dining experience celebrating the bounty of the Santa Barbara wine country – wonderful wine and delicious food! Chef Budi Kazali artistically melds Asian and French cuisine to deliver a truly delectable and extensive menu that features seasonal, locally sourced produce, seafood, and meats. Whether you’re reconnecting with family and friends at our communal gathering table, or with that special someone at one of our more intimate tables, you’re in for a truly remarkable dining experience. There's something on the menu for everyone, and all the dishes are small plates and meant to be shared, so come hungry!
Reviewed August 6, 2013

We stayed at the Ballard Inn (subject of another review) and managed to get a reservation for Sunday night(close Monday and Tuesday). The food was great. I had fish (crispy skinned white Seabass) that was great. My wife had the pork chop (special of the day). Everything was perfectly cooked and presented. The service was great. Wonderful selection of local wines. This is one of the best places to eat in the valley.

Thank D C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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77 - 81 of 179 reviews

Reviewed July 27, 2013

We had a chance to eat at the restaurant on a Sunday night as part of our anniversary trip that included a 3 night stay at the Ballard inn. Unfortunately, for our anniversary dinner, we had to wait more than half an hour for our table. This in itself would not be the end of the world, but it was significant to us since the wait could have been avoided, and the hostess could have reacted a lot better to the situation.

Now the whole story is a bit long; I write really fast so it's not a big deal for me to explain - but if you don't want to read it all, the gist is that the people who were hogging our table were "important" and I guess by inference, we were not. This left a bad taste in our mouth about Ballard Inn restaurant.

The group we were waiting for was already there at this table around 5:30 pm - we saw them while we were on the porch during the inn's happy hour after checking in - and our dinner reservation was at 8:00 pm. They not only had had plenty of time to eat, but as the hostess/waitress told us when we arrived, they "had already finished eating and paid and everything". They were having some more wine on the porch and our table would be ready imminently. We waited a while. Around 8:15, the hostess/waitress came back and told us these guests knew we were waiting for our table but "could we give them a little more time to enjoy their wine?". We were kind of taken off guard when she asked us this and sort of said OK, but we were starting to get a bit confused. I did ask for some water while we waited, as I was really thirsty. Now, I don't blame these people for wanting to slowly enjoy their wine - I am Mediterranean and we eat and drink slowly. But note that they were done eating, paid already, knew we were waiting. Importantly, the table we are talking about was just a few yards down the side of the porch where we were waiting, where a dozen or so chairs and tables were available. These people could easily have taken their wine and, in less than half a minute, moved to any one of these other tables (all empty, take your pick) and have had the exact same view and atmosphere, and even sit in more comfortable chairs to enjoy their wine - all without making others wait for their dinner table for even longer. Instead, even after they were told we were waiting for our 8:00 pm reservation, they would not leave. When we thought about all this, we were disappointed and kind of confused. After another 15 minutes, my husband went up to the hostess/waitress and pointed out all the empty tables and politely asked if the other guests could move there so we could start our dinner, now 30 minutes late. He did not even have to point out this is our anniversary since the restaurant already knew it was so and had acknowledged it to us when we arrived. Eventually, the people left the table (giving us totally obvious bad looks and frowns as they walked by, even though it was us waiting and we had not even glanced at their direction the whole time, let alone giving them bad looks) and moved to one of the many empty tables on the porch with the lovely rocking chairs. The way that they looked at us you would think we were cockroaches! It really felt abnormal. Perhaps they were annoyed at us when they saw us earlier? Overhead something they did not like when we were chatting with other guests? Who knows…

Now, I realize the restaurant cannot control their guests' behavior, but why wasn't the hostess more assertive? After all, when we and another couple were sitting at one of the restaurant tables around 5:30 (during the happy hour) because all the other porch chairs and tables that were now available were occupied, they were very clear and persistent in telling us we would need to vacate those tables in time for the guests who reserved them for dinner to be seated after 6:00 pm. At that time, I had no problem with this, though the other couple thought they were assertive to the point of being aggressive and were kind of offended. So why wouldn't the restaurant show the same assertiveness when it came to our more than half hour wait for our anniversary dinner?

Sometimes my husband being non-white and both of us looking younger than we are can be a reason we don't get as much respect in service as other people (and we did indeed experience some seemingly racist and ageist attitude from other guests at Ballard Inn but that's another story), but it turned out to be something else in this case. The waitress came back, while finally giving me some water, and blurted out that, "those guests are from ****** wines". (I am not including the winery name to not embarrass them; it's a famous winery, one of the biggest and oldest in the area). I looked at her and gave her some time to correct or add to what she had said, but she just added "you know ****** wines, they're the owners". I said, "that sounds like you're saying they are more important than us". She said "oh no, but you know, they are from ****** wines". At this point I told her that this is a fine restaurant and we are customers, all she needed to do is apologize for the wait, and telling us the people who refused to leave the table in time are from a famous winery is not helping anything. I did not add that in fact she should have been more professional from the start; e.g., asked them politely to move tables instead of asking us to wait more and more... After she left, now finally realizing we felt like we were not treated well, the restaurant wisely sent a more experienced and polite server who seemed apologetic about the long wait and about the younger hostess/waitress' inexperience, the chef sent us an amuse bouche as an apology, and the rest of the dinner went well.

I have traveled around the world, lived in numerous countries, and had the opportunity to dine at all kinds of restaurants. A 30-40 minute delay in a situation like this would be a problem worth adressing at a fine restaurant on any day; it's even worse when we had made our reservation a month in advance and it was for our anniversary. To add insult to injury, there was a rather easy solution, with many empty tables available for the other guests. How much longer would we have waited until these ****** wines people were out of their power trip? Why did we have to point out the obvious, that you don't ask people to wait indefinitely when you have the option of moving the guests who are finished eating and had been there 2.5 hours? And above all, at a fine restaurant, you never ever want to even imply to one customer, that another is "more important", even if they are regulars, even if they are a business partner, or an old friend. That really sets truly exceptional service apart. A really classy restaurant will not imply you are less important than another customer - even if you're a graduate student who saved up for months to eat there, and the other person is a royal (yes, I have been in that situation and no, I was not the royal!). I was pleased the older staff understood this and attempted to remedy things but clearly they should train the youngsters on this.

The food was good, though the menu is not terribly original. The items were pretty typical of this class of restaurant, though they were adapted in the chef's style and were well executed with fresh ingredients and a local touch. We ordered the pork belly appetizer, the black cod main and the duck main. The wine that we chose in discussion with the server was also a good match for the food. Everything was delicious. They had noted my allergy that I had entered during making the reservation and were attentive about it. Service after the above incident was also good. If they can adopt a level of professionalism that matches their goal of being a truly fine dining and wining establishment, I believe this restaurant has great potential. I hope if you visit you have a smoother experience. It was not so much the half hour or 40 minutes we waited that bothered us. It's just not the way you want to be treated on a special occasion. It was a true effort on our part to not leave during the wait, or after the "explanation" offered for the delay, and once we did decide to stay, to not let this clumsy and rude start affect our enjoyment of our dinner. Fine dining means you don't have to worry and can sit back and enjoy a special, relaxing time, reasonably close to the time you booked your table for, regardless of how "important" the other guests are. I hope the Ballard inn and restaurant keeps this vision in mind and makes some changes to avoid such discomfort in the future.

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5  Thank APS7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2013

We have eaten here many times and will always come back. The food is consistently good, probably the best in the area. On our trips here we always save the best for last. Nice intimate dining area or outside where they have added heaters. Always our favorite.

Thank clarinet13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2013

We were 11, including 4 older kids (9-13 years old). We arrived at 7:30pm and we left the restaurant around 11pm. That waiting time should be enough to understand the low rating. The service was really slow, staff with very unhappy faces or perhaps they were tired. It took more than an hour just to get our salads. I asked them twice to please bring the food for the kids, which they did around 9:30pm. Our food arrived around 10pm. The food was so wonderful that we tried to forget the long waiting time. Other tables were served promptly, not ours. By the time we finished our food, the restaurant was empty. My guess is that having the tip included as part of big groups is not always a good idea. They take for granted they will get it and that lowered the quality of the provided service. The chef's special was excellent but the waiting time did not contributed to a pleasant visit. Our bill was $100 per person, including kids, do the math!.

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1  Thank E S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

We celebrated our anniversary with dinner at the Ballard Inn. We had the option of indoor seating in their beautiful dining room, but chose to be seated on the pretty outdoor veranda. The service was outstanding, with "right-on" recommendations from our waitress. We shared the entree; the waitress recommended we start with their signature appetizer, the Hamachi Sashimi, and we are so glad we did not miss this exquisite dish. We had nice wine by the glass. A perfect evening!

Thank doctorsandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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