Phantom Gourmet

Review by authors Jane and Michael Stern

Gilley's is an old-fashioned night-owl lunch wagon, now semi-permanently anchored on Fleet Street, where it used to arrive each night around supper time.  According to legend, the proprietor received a ticket every evening, but business was so good that he considered the fine simply a cost of doing business and kept coming back.  Today, Gilley's has an address and even a telephone number; and while it is not, as far as we know, a scofflaw anymore, it has maintained a deliciously iniquitous ambience.  If is is the wee hours of the morning, and all the normal restaurants are closed and even the bars are shut, you can count on Gilley's to be serving up hamburgers with chocolate milk on the side to a rogue's gallery of city folk who range from derelicts to debutantes.

Many dine standing on the sidewalk, but there is some limited indoor seating at a narrow counter opposite the order area and galley kitchen.  Gathered here under some of the most unflattering lighting on earth are insomniacs, die-hard parties, and late-shift workers with no other place to eat, feasting on such quick-kitchen fare as hot dogs with sauerkraut, French fries gobbed with cheese, and fried egg sandwiches with coffee on the side.  The best dish in the house, or at least the one that seems most appropriate in this reprobate restaurant, is the hamburger, actually the, make that a double cheeseburger, with bacon and onions, too.




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