Breakfast and lunch worth the price at Gordon's Gourmet.

Gordon's Gourmet is proof there's a cure for the common cold cut.

What separates this restaurant from other breakfast-and-lunch operations is that it doesn't equate quick with cheap.

Case in point: Sandwiches ($7.95) - generous in size, served with thick, crispy chips and a pickle spear.

Roast beef, prepared in-house, is infinitely tender and flavorful, served on toasted sourdough with a juicy roasted tomato, horseradish aioli, havarti and arugula. Stacked high enough to make Mr. Bumstead proud, the Dagwood uses maple-cured ham, which permeates the entire sandwich, layered with additional meats, swiss cheese and pesto aioli. The woodsy ham doesn't work so well in the Italian sandwich, dressed up with roasted red peppers.

Gordon's Gourmet is a venture between Gordon O'Reilly and Ted Biebert, who have taken over a portion of the space that most recently housed Caf Iliana along busy Riverside Drive, north of Grandview Avenue. It's been a troubled spot, hosting several restaurants in recent years. The good news is the space has been split, resulting in a smaller and more manageable caf space.

Gordon's is comfy, laid-back and bright with natural illumination. As is the style of modern breakfast-and-lunch restaurants, orders are placed at the counter and
finished meals are shuttled out to the tables. The menu is fairly limited and inexpensive, dedicating a good portion to salads, ($7.95 each), which can be made into a meal by adding chicken ($3) or salmon ($4). The classic wedge is of steakhouse quality: a big hunk of iceberg ladled with blue cheese dressing and garnished with bacon, lettuce and onion. A Caesar uses only the freshest romaine, cut into small pieces and adorned with croutons, a lemony dressing and flakes of Parmesan.

Combo meals - half a salad, soup or sandwich - are $8.95. Sides include a pretty decent potato salad, interestingly seasoned with a rough chop of broccoli.

The lone flatbread we tried (pepperoni, $7.95) was reminiscent of a low-grade frozen pie, a flaccid crust with a decent herbed tomato sauce.
Soups are made with care. The Italian chicken and noodle option, a special on one visit, is rustic, using fowl and farfalle in a light tomato broth. The tomato soup is homey and nicely herbed, a far cry from the school lunch line stuff.

So, you say, it's hard to screw up breakfast. It raises the question of: What do I look for in breakfast fare? First off, it has to be cost-effective. Gordon's has that covered with breakfast sandwiches ($4.95). Fluffy eggs, sausage patties and swiss are cradled in a flaky croissant for a hearty first meal of the day. Likewise, a scramble uses billowy eggs and a slew of pork products - ham, bacon and sausage - in a morning "scramble" ($4.95) that sticks to your ribs like spackle.
Desserts are generous for their price, $1.95 each, and have the same homespun quality as the other fare. The brownie is a real winner, moist and dense, more bitter than sweet, and the carrot cake is decent, but maybe a little heavy-handed on the cinnamon.

It takes moxie to move into a troubled location, ignoring the omen of previous restaurant failures. But O'Reilly and Biebert are onto something that's fairly standard and satisfying all at once. Going the extra step might be what it takes to make it out of this economy and beyond.

Pricing: Inexpensive
Reservations: Not accepted
Breakfast 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday
Lunch 11:01 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
Call 614-832-2404