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Gravy, a classic ABQ diner with a strong breakfast menu, finally opens

The Pancake Flight at Gravy consists of a red velvet pancake, a cinnamon roll pancake and a pineapple upside down pancake. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The Pancake Flight at Gravy consists of a red velvet pancake, a cinnamon roll pancake and a pineapple upside down pancake. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gravy, the much-anticipated spot in the old Milton’s location kept the neighborhood on pins and needles for nearly two years, swinging open for business in December.

After such a long road traveled, the neighborhood is trying out the new joint with its interior update from grimy retro to polished and hip throwback.

Once you’ve got your cup o’ joe ($2.50) or an espresso ($2.50) coursing through your veins, Gravy’s pancakes ought to be calling your name. The Flight ($8.99) consists of a cinnamon roll, red velvet and pineapple, making for a decadent plate of fluffy starch. We liked both the pineapple and cinnamon for their lightness and ability to make us keep going back for “just one more bite.” Real maple syrup would have helped all three. Pair the flight with bacon ($2.50) to add salt and crunch.

Continuing the savory side of breakfast, the Brisket Hash ($9.75) is a beloved American diner dish. The bell pepper-studded hash is good, but no more – I’d love to find a hash in this town well above mediocre.

While the over-medium eggs were perfect, the potato chunks look just like Gravy’s French fries hacked into little pieces – an admirable re-use of ingredients that needs a good crisping to give this classic dish some awesomeness.

On the table alongside many meals you’ll see a frosty milkshake ($5) in hues from chocolate brown to pale vanilla white. My favorite is the caramelized banana with loads of fruity chunks and a dollop of whipped cream. Splitting this treat between two is just right to avoid a sugar overload (or spoil one’s appetite).

The shake is the perfect match for a Patty Melt ($12), served on marble rye with gooey cheese and darkly caramelized onions.

Gravy’s Cobb Salad ($9.75 lunch, $11 dinner) didn’t do much for me, with a dearth of toppings and greens that were a day past their prime. It seems breakfast is their stronger suit, for now.

Gravy’s personality is difficult to discern – are they a retro diner, a modern hipster café, or something else entirely? The menu is mostly classic diner but with enough twists to hint at grander aspirations: the Spinach, Feta, and Artichoke Triangle served as an appetizer harkens back to Albuquerque’s Greek diner roots, while the Pork Belly & Fried Green Tomatoes seems squarely pointed at the gourmet crowd.

My whole party enjoyed our friendly server, but experienced periodic bouts of “where did they go?” as the meal progressed, as well as a fairly long wait for our dishes. At a place that could potentially sell itself on quick turnaround, Gravy could improve its overall smoothness. With the existing inventive menu, I hope they nail down the weak points and stick around for quite some time.