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Brunch at Gilbert's

Sustenance and sin

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A late night at Gilbert's might include a visit from Midtown's own wandering majorette -- an area icon who marches the streets dressed in leather and a tutu. She might take a twirl break to stop here and wave her baton at a friend. Traveling businessmen meet over the retro disco beat. The bartender playfully mixes up cocktails and quarrels with the regulars.

Decadence by day: Many know Gilbert's from its night incarnation as a local watering hole where impromptu drama is performed by the ever-changing street theater. Few realize its dichotomous daytime role as an oft-acclaimed eatery. While the dinner menu offers reasonable entrees, the real bang for the buck lies in the eclectic all-you-can-eat weekend brunch that draws both the eccentric and the everyman.

The mature but sensuous Turkish server leans intimately into the table and proclaims: "It is all your choice, in whatever order you want." Her black eyes widen exotically at the end of every sentence. She outlines the concept: Each customer can order any four of the 16 items on the menu. After the first round, you are free to keep ordering the same, or four different offerings as often as desired.

Porridge for the privileged: We asked for recommendations and followed the server's lead by ordering lentil soup. The soup started subtly with golden brown broth lit by lemon, and its intensity built with earthy spices and partially pureed lentils. With the palate woken and warmed, we progressed to the small plate of gyro meat dressed with feta and scrambled eggs. A great light alternative to steak and eggs, and with more elegant herbs marbled into the easy-to-eat, greaseless gyro meat.

There are conventional standards as well: country steak, biscuits, a petite Western omelet and pancakes. The French toast is light and touched with just a hint of what could be cardamom – it can be enjoyed without adding syrup.

Too Alhambra Alabama? The only items that stretched this flexible Mediterranean-comfort-food theme too far for fun fusion were the biscuits with gyro gravy and a nebulous breakfast burrito.

The service seems to keep up with reorders, and the venue offers both eclectic and expected brunch fare affordably priced. Be a glutton or a grazer. Eat and run or stay all day. It's good there's still a place where different palates can parade.

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