The shtick: An easygoing brunch that's friendly to families and food obsessives alike. 

The vibe: If you're looking to sum up Lincoln Square in one brunching destination, this may well be it. It looks great, with plenty of contemporary finishes, but it's not in your face about it. It's accessible to adults and kids. And there's a line of big fans singing its praises waiting at the door when it opens on Sunday mornings. 

We can't overstate how great this place is for dining groups with kids in tow–every other table seems to have a little one or several, and every single one of them seemed delighted to be there. Still, it's not a madhouse (you won't hear much in the way of screaming or see anyone running around, for instance). If you can, get a seat on the fantastic covered patio tucked in the back. 8 out of 10

The food: Gather's dishes exist in that middle ground between breakfast classics that never rise beyond the level of "good" and trendy-to-the-max compositions that only faintly resemble morning food. This is the sweet spot for a brunch menu. You get both style and substance here. The griddle cakes ($12), three petite corn cakes paired with fried eggs, melty cheese, roasted chicken, and tomatillo salsa, come out all herb-flecked and fancy, but they're hearty and solid, the things you want to eat when you need sustenance for a long day ahead. Same goes for the smoked salmon ($13), which shows up looking like a scramble. 

Most every party springs for a sticky bun ($3), and you should follow suit—the caramel-colored beaut comes swimming in a pool of gooey-sweet glaze and will sate any and all sugar cravings. 8 out of 10

The drinks: An above-average Bloody Mary ($8) deserves to make its way onto your order—the house-made tomato juice adds a lively, light touch. All-you-can-drink Intelligentsia mugs ($4) are refilled with regularity. 8 out of 10

The service: Our sweet server handled both our table of adults and a neighboring party toting a toddler with equal ease and charm (and managed to find crayons and a coloring page for the restless kiddo.) 8 out of 10

Overall: You'll leave considering how nice it would be to have Gather as your neighborhood standby—spots this dependable, delicious, and delightful are hard to come by. 8 out of 10