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Nectar's Brunch

188 Main Street, Burlington

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Just a few hours after it turns out the last heaping helping of Friday-night gravy fries, Nectar's is now serving weekend brunch. As I slid into the green vinyl booth with a bunch of relatives in tow, I noticed that the dining room has a different feel - calmer - in the light of day. The background music was a low-key mix of bluesy songs coming over the speakers rather than a rock 'n' roll band jammin' out in the next room. But the nightclub theme lives on: The stylish brunch menu, printed in appealing shades of gray, is formatted like a playbill boasting Burlington's hottest musical acts.

Our family-sized order covered substantial culinary territory. The "Crunchy French Toast," which lived up to its name, gave us the opportunity to check out the comprehensive "toppings bar." I particularly enjoyed the cinnamon-y cooked apples, but a mixture of almonds, coconut and maple syrup was equally appetizing. A spinach, seitan and goat cheese combo worked well in my aunt's omelette, but my mom's "Big Meat" version - with sausage, bacon and ham- was too one-note for my taste.

My brother appreciated his mountain of potatoes and chiles smothered in cheddar with two eggs perched on top - except the dish arrived at the table sans cheese and had to be returned to the kitchen. The seitan was missing from my husband's vegetarian Benedict as well, but these mistakes were corrected quickly and cheerfully. Generous portions, including all-you-can-drink coffee, tea and juice, justify the prices: $7.25 to $9.50 for most of the egg dishes and treats from the griddle.

I ordered the Nectar's turkey eggs Benedict mainly out of curiosity - turkey gravy and Hollandaise sauce is hardly a standard culinary combo. I attributed their appearance together as either a testament to the chef's creativity or a stubborn desire to add Nectar's' famous fat to as many dishes as possible. The blend worked better than expected; a tasty tower of buttermilk biscuits, sliced turkey, mushrooms and gravy was topped with eggs and smothered with Cajun-flavored Hollandaise. Surprisingly delicious.

A few quibbles: The toppings-table offerings weren't labeled, which left us wondering what we might be slathering on the French toast. And while it was nice to find five kinds of juice, none of them tasted fresh-squeezed. It would be nice to have a smaller but fresher selection, such as some kind of homemade citrus concoction, Vermont apple cider and apropos apricot nectar.

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