Mellow Gather Bar a perfect spot to mingle, grab a late-night bite
Located in the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, Gather Bar serves as a laid-back spot for guests and locals alike to enjoy some late-night eats, live music, sports on TV, or just the chance to chat and drink.
Motif: Closed off from the lobby by a bead and gauze curtain, Gather Bar provides a warm and chill vibe. The candlelit tables are set with comfortable green or orange chairs, and booths with their own TVs are tucked to the side. The orange, violet and black carpet adds to the mellow feel. The long bar is equipped with four TVs, and the selection of spirits is backlit by neon lights.
1551 N. Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg, (847) 303-4007, marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/chirs-renaissance-schaumburg-convention-center-hotel
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Crowd: About 75 percent of customers at Gather Bar are hotel guests, so the spot draws an eclectic mix of couples, families, solo diners, conventioneers and occasionally entire wedding parties. The spot is often packed around meal times and between 9:30 and 11 p.m. when conventions let out for the night. Gather also draws plenty of local workers, some of whom come three nights a week to get good food late at night. The space can be rented out for private parties, so you may want to call ahead before dropping by.
Service: Our server checked back regularly and showed an excellent knowledge of the menu, able to expound on every dish and recommend drink pairings.
Food: Gather Bar offers an excellent menu, with options for a full dinner or just a snack with some drinks. The 99-cent price tag helps make the chips and dip one of the most popular starters. The thick homemade chips are served with a creamy onion dip mixed with horseradish to add some kick. The sliders were the best item we tried. The locally raised beef is extremely tender and juicy and mixes well with the creamy Boursin mayo spread on the bun. For a lighter starter, try the crispy rock shrimp, which are spiced up by wasabi aioli.
Gather Bar guests can order anything from the Sam & Harry's menu, so you'll often spot guys enjoying a steak at the bar while watching the game. If you're not looking for a full steak, try Gather's steak salad, which features a wedge of iceberg lettuce, rich bleu cheese, sweet fried onion and thick cubes of bacon with strips of perfectly cooked beef. The turkey press is a particularly hearty sandwich, featuring strips of crispy bacon served hot with a side of thick herbed fries. It's well-worth saving room for dessert so you can try the amazing doughnuts, which are served with cream, big slices of fresh strawberries and a jar of slightly tart strawberry rhubarb jam.
Liquid consumption: Gather features an excellent selection of wines by the glass and microbrews served in frosted glasses. The menu offers a great selection from Goose Island and the bar plans to add options from Two Brothers. There's a small menu of classic cocktails, and all the drinks we tried were perfectly mixed. The Old Fashioned was smooth and strong, the French 75 refreshing and tart and the mint julep was especially good, not too sweet and very pleasantly tasting of bourbon. If you don't see a cocktail that strikes your fancy, the bartenders are happy to whip up custom drinks based on the flavors you're in the mood for.
Music: Local bands play top 40 songs and mellow music from 6 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday night.
Parking: There's plenty of free parking in the hotel lot.
Overall: Gather Bar's food, drinks and service make it worth checking out.
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