I'm not so sure the guy who recently seated me at The Gathering restaurant will exactly write home about my attire. On second thought, maybe he will. In my defense, I visited the Mission Hills eatery pretty much on the spur of the moment—but it's true that I was wearing a kaleidoscopic poncho and a pair of pumpkin-orange shorts. Those are hardly the sartorials of choice in a beautiful little eatery like that, reopened only six months ago after a year's time-out for some interior rehab. Not unexpectedly, I got one of those looks.
All I wanted to see is if the prices on staples like hamburgers and nachos would stay competitive after the refurbishment. Not only are such items delicious and eminently affordable, but you get to eat them in a totally clean, well-lighted place, with soft jazz piped in and two cool big-screen TVs at your disposal over the bar. The Goldfinch Burger ($7.95 and so named for the restaurant's cross-street) is charbroiled, so it's best well-done—and if you don't order the onion soup to go with it, you're dumber than I look in that silly poncho. A slate of breakfast and lunch items also awaits, with higher-priced entrées big enough to split (at $19.95, the steak Napoli is reportedly off-the-charts spectacular). Your part of the bargain involves driving to 902 West Washington St., where the venue is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day ('sep for Fridays and Saturdays, when it closes at 11 p.m.). The number is 619-260-0400, or you can educate yourself beforehand at www.thegatheringrestaurant.com. Meanwhile, I seriously can't figure what that guy at the door was weirded out about. As guys' legs go, mine are actually very nice, so it couldn't have been the shorts. Next time, just to be safe, I'd better leave the fishnets in the car.