We can't figure out what's greater, the oxymoronic shock value of chef Sean Baker's signature dish at Gather, or the sheer exuberance of its execution. Vegan "charcuterie": Though the menu sets off the second half of the name in quotation marks, it's sort of a pointless demarcation. The four to six elements described in the constantly changing dish read like a mini thesis on the potential of vegetables, nuts, and seaweeds in a kitchen with an inventive spirit. Baker turns out highly concentrated vignettes of seasonal vegetable cookery, composed on boards that look like mini bread peels: There might be tiny carrots cooked sous vide, sunchoke carpaccio with wisps of greens that look like garden thinnings, a custard made from beet juice (called "blood," in keeping with the faux charcuterie theme) served with a simulacrum of goat cheese made with cashew milk. Even when one element doesn't quite work, the combined weight of intention and effort add up to a nightly tour de force even lovers of actual charcuterie — the kind not set off by inverted commas — can applaud.
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