*Now renamed Reflect Social Dining + Lounge*
"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food" - Erma Bombeck.
Erma has got it right, or at least I'm using it as an excuse to stuff my face again. As in my previous post about Sunday brunch at the Pan Pacific, I mentioned that the brunch at the Crystal Mall Hilton was a better value. I haven't been to the buffet brunch in awhile, and since we really didn't do a proper Mother's Day, it was a good chance to do a belated one. Naturally, a buffet of anything is never really a good way to experience good food. After all, you have food cooked in large batches and then kept warm or cold for extended periods of time. But if you take it for what it is, it can be a pleasant experience.
If we do a direct comparison to the Pan Pacific, that would be a bit unfair. First, the Pan Pacific is in a superior location, right on the waterfront and in downtown. Second, the price for the brunch at the Pan Pacific is $50, while the one at the Hilton is $30. The selection of food is nearly the same except that the Pan Pacific has a few more items. Are these extra items and the view worth $20 more? Well, let's find out! Let the gluttony begin!
Well, the gluttony never really came to fruition because I didn't end up eating that much. I started with a mimosa (included in the brunch) and had 4 or 5 more (I lost count). Suffice to say, it is truly pathetic that I got tipsy from mimosas! But not all was lost, I did end up eating 2 dishes. In the cold section, there were the usual suspects: Cured Mackerel, Smoked Salmon, Mussels (3 ways), Shrimp Cocktail, Sushi, Cold Cuts, Veggies, Cheeses, Salads, Breads and Fruit. The shrimp cocktail was very fresh. Every one of the 20+ shrimp that I ate were cold-water crunchy. Viv had the Curried Mussels and she said they were excellent being spicy and flavourful. The other items were what we expected and not much more needs to be said about them.
Moving onto the hot items, there was the requisite omelet bar. There were a modest selection of ingredients and the omelets were made-to-order. I didn't have one because I couldn't eat much else otherwise. However, I did eat a different egg product: the Eggs Benedict. This was surprisingly good, despite sitting in a warming tray for who knows how long. The egg was poached perfect, with the whites cooked all the way through and the centre still runny. The Hollandaise sauce was buttery with a bit of separation, yet it is forgivable given the situation. Other breakfast items included sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, home style hash browns, and pancakes. Again, all of these items were pretty much what is expected, except the pancakes. I know they have been sitting around for awhile; but they could have passed for a Frisbee.
The highlight of the hot food section was the Basa with Buerre Blanc sauce. Despite being in a warming tray, the fish retained it's texture and was cooked perfectly. Every flake was tender and flavourful from the buttery sauce which had a hint of dill. There was a chicken dish right beside it and honestly, I didn't know what kind of sauce it was bathed in. Viv and I tried our best, and all we could come up with was black bean (?). Still not sure. It's a moot point anyways since the chicken was overcooked (again, forgivable in this situation). There were 2 Dim Sum items in the form of Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) and Sui Mai (Pork Dumplings). The Sui Mai were okay, nothing special, especially since they didn't include shrimp. However, the Haw Gow were decent for a non-Asian buffet. Too bad they were kept in a warmer, the skin gets overcooked and gummy because of it. Right beside the omelet bar was the Roast Beef. It looked nice since it was cooked perfectly. However, the cut of meat was a bit tough. Maybe a prime rib roast would be a better choice (but I'm sure that would raise the cost of the buffet). The other items included: Spring Rolls, Fried Rice, Veggies and Ravioli.
There was a decent selection of desserts which included fresh fruit, several cakes, petits fours, cream puffs, bread pudding and canned fruit cocktail. Wait, canned fruit cocktail? Yes, I really think they should remove that. Although there will be people and kiddies who will eat it, it looked really out of place on the dessert spread. If it was Jello with fruit cocktail, that might have been better.
In terms of an upscale buffet brunch, the Hilton at Crystal Mall is a good value. Of course there are better; but for the price, it is pretty good. Naturally, you have to take into account that it is a buffet and most of the food will never be in it's perfect state. With that being said, some items were definite misses. Fortunately, there is more good than bad. As for Erma Bombeck, I really was an explorer of food today; rather than a glutton.
- Price is reasonable
- Relaxed atmosphere
- Service is top-notch
- Some misses in the hot food
- Restaurant is a bit small
Crystal Grille (Crystal Mall Hilton)
6083 McKay Avenue