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He Said: Liberty Market stands out in Gilbert

Old Town Gilbert: 25 miles per hour down Main Street, small repair shops and random stores. I never thought there would be a great restaurant like this in such an unexpected place!

The high ceilings and modern-yet-familiar decor made us feel very comfortable, while still giving the impression that we were in for something special. The kitchen was right out in plain view of the customers, which to me screams, “We have nothing to hide!” And that is always a plus when trying a new place.

Even the bathroom was hip: unisex stalls lined up outside of modern sinks, all clean and with great-smelling hand soap. For me, success is all in the details, and so far the details had been amazing.

There was a line when we arrived at noon, but it went quickly and within seven minutes we were ordering. I almost wish I had more time in line, because the choices all sounded so tempting. The dessert case was brimming with options, from giant slices of red velvet cake to enormous cinnamon rolls and beautiful lemon-blackberry cupcakes. Weekly specials were clearly displayed on charming chalkboards, and the pizza oven was emitting a wonderful smell of fresh-baked dough.

After eying the display case for a while, I chose the “Best Chicken Sandwich,” which was aptly named. A gorgeous, moist chicken breast with Monterey Jack cheese, avocado spread, chipotle vinaigrette, lettuce, tomato and onion upon a fresh bun. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a chicken sandwich quite so much.

For $1 extra, I got the daily special of kale salad instead of the chips. It was just the right blend of chopped kale, slivered almonds and craisins, tossed with a special house dressing. Perfection.

One of my lunch companions ordered another Liberty favorite: the Picnic Sandwich. This was layers of turkey, caramelized pecans, crunchy green apple slices, bleu cheese, greens and roasted red pepper aioli. Of course we shared everything and agreed that this was a sandwich we’d be ordering again. The side she chose was the rice pudding, which was perfectly creamy and thick. It had just the right balance of sweetness and a hint of cinnamon. Amazing.

Our third companion ordered the Liberty Pasta Bowl, a large portion of meatballs and cavatappi pasta, covered in a nice marinara sauce and grated pecorino-Romano cheese. It came with two pieces of grilled bread, which was perfect to soak up the extra sauce. She loved it and so did we.

Even after that very filling and delicious meal, we still had to try a dessert, so we settled on sharing a Salt River bar. It was a combination of chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and saltine crackers, of all things. If they had used graham crackers or a cookie, this bar would have been too much. Too sweet. But the inclusion of the saltines created this sweet yet salty explosion of tastes that truly evolve in your mouth. It was reminiscent of the chocolate covered peanut chews I enjoyed as a kid. Absolutely delicious.

The only problem I can find with Liberty Market is that next time I go, I will want to enjoy the exact items I had today. I will have to force myself to try new things from the menu, but with the attention to freshness and quality of food, I’m sure I will find more to love.

Liberty Market? Yes, please!