Normally, I'm not one for crowds. Hey, call me anti-social; but it just stresses me out. That probably explains my aversion to lineups, public events and Richmond. So when it comes to stat holidays and special occasions, I would much rather celebrate it in peace and quiet or possibly delay for a week or so. That goes the same for Mother's Day. We were planning on going for Sunday brunch the week after; but at the last minute decided to do what corporate marketing machines want us to do - buy cards, gifts and eat expensive meals. Ah whatever, we only live once, let's just spend the money eh? So we booked Sunday brunch at The Sutton Place Hotel for Mother's Day. That would be for my mom and Viv (since she's a mom too!).
It's funny how we can spring for a $60.00 per person brunch; yet balked at paying for hotel parking. When I found out it was $8.00 an hour, my Chineseness took over. Heck no would I pay that! So I merely found street parking around the corner from Japadog for $6.00 for 2 hours. Ha! I showed them! The only problem was walking past Japadog twice... I wanted some. No, must... resist... Once past the lure of a Terimayo, we arrived at the entrance to Fleuri and there was already a lineup to get in. Argh! Darn lineups and crowds! Okay, breath slowly, don't hyperventilate. There's a lot of food, keep the appetite! Fortunately, I was able to attack the food with my camera before the mad rush. Unfortunately, I really didn't eat until after that and by then, it was a traffic jam. Darn #$*#)*# crowds! LOL...
Despite being Mother's Day, the spread was pretty much typical of the regular Sunday brunch offering. At the front, there was a "bread basket" of sorts which also had some fresh tortilla chips, croissants and Danishes. Behind it, there was an array of salads which included Gemelli Pasta with English Peas, Tomato & Basil Pesto, Golden Beet Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese, New Potato Salad with Asparagus & Radish and Tomato & Herbed Bocconcini. Honestly, I didn't try any of these salads. With so many other choices, I decided to save myself. They did look fresh though. Within the same section, there was a good selection of cold platters consisting of Flaked Halibut and Trout with Chopped Strawberries, Smoked Salmon & Gravlax, Mussels with Lemon, Dill and Sausage-infused oil (?) in a Spoon, Melon & Prosciutto, Marinated Mushrooms, Cured & Smoked Meats and Grilled Antipasto Platter. We thought the mussels were the highlight. The little bite had a big hit of flavour with the lemon while some smokiness from the oil. As for the other items, they were pretty much what we expected from a brunch such as this. As for the halibut & trout, the strawberries on top was rather strange and didn't really compliment the fish. There really needed to be a savoury component to it.
Now the one platter that sat majestically above everything else was full of Clams, Mussels, Shrimp and Crab Claws. Doing what my parents taught me, I attacked this first. Salads. Pfffft... It's all about the seafood baby! I found all of the items to be prepared nicely except for the crab claws. Okay, lemme rephrase that. There was nothing wrong with the preparation per se; but the claws had this odd texture only reserved for previously frozen crab. Too bad really. Would've been nice to have Dungeness Crab legs instead. Moving along to the hot food station, I found the token Dim Sum tray. Ah yes. Something that must have reasonable expectations. So there was Sui Mai, Haw Gow and Ebi Gyoza. I thought the sui mai was somewhat passable since the pork was a little bit chewy while still tenderized. Unfortunately, the darn thing was too loose and fell apart. Furthermore the shrimp was overcooked. The haw gow was well, not very good. The shrimp inside consisted of some good bits mixed in with some not so good bits. Also, there was far too much sesame oil. The dumpling skin was the worst part. It was thick and crumbled on contact. The ebi gyoza was alright. At least the dumpling skin was done right and the shrimp inside was passable. The meat filling was a bit gritty though.
The next tray consisted of a Trio of Fish in Buerre Blanc. Surprisingly, the salmon and halibut were moist. This is a very difficult thing to regulate in a buffet setting. I found the buerre blanc to quite mild. It did not overwhelm the fish; yet it didn't really flavour it either. I wasn't all that fond of the smoked mackerel though, it was tough and I could barely chew it. Moving along once again, I found the one of my favs - Sliced Lamb Shoulder. Normally, I'm a bit hesitant with pre-sliced meat sitting around in a warming tray. It tends to dry out. In this case, it was heading in that direction. However, I still found the meat to be tender and well-seasoned.
The obligatory pasta dish consisted of Crab & Squash Tortellini with Orange Bisque Reduction. Unless we were mistakened, we didn't detect any orange in the sauce. Either there was none or it was not very prevalent. No matter really because the sauce couldn't save this poorly made tortellini. The pasta itself was quite thick and the filling was not very good. The crab was super dry despite the presence of sweet squash. After this, there were the usual breakfast items such as waffles, pancakes, sausages and bacon. Nothing much to say about these other than the Eggs Benedict. As you can see in the picture, the piece of Canadian back bacon was so thin, it started to curl. I think either less cooking time or a thicker cut would've at least been more visually appealing. The egg itself was poached perfectly - fully cooked with a runny yolk. The Hollandaise sauce had a nice consistency; but could've used more lemon.
Turning my attention away from the regular breakfast items (no, I didn't have any), I tried the Roasted Chicken. Sitting in its own drippings, the meat was actually still decently tender and flavourful. I'm not a huge fan of chicken at a fine dining restaurant nor brunch; but this did the job for those who want something safe. Right next to the chicken was a trio of sides consisting of Polenta with Olives, Potato Pavé and Mashed Potato Rosettes. I love polenta and this one was actually quite good. I especially loved the little nuggets of olives which added a salty kick. The potato pavé was pretty standard while the rosettes were very dry. But enough with the vegetarian stuff, I quickly moved onto the carving station which consisted of Prime Rib, Baked Ham and Turkey Breast. For me, it's all about the prime rib. I bypassed the other 2 meats and went straight for the roast. And what a delicious roast it was. It was super tender and well-seasoned. With a splash of au jus and a side of horseradish, I was in meat bliss. I would've preferred it to be a bit less done; but they need to appeal to everyone.
Now I'm not really a sweets person, if you don't know already... However, with the large selection of Desserts, I had no choice but to try some. With that being said, I think my 3-year old daughter had almost as much as me. There was a wide range of sweets including petit fours, several types of cheesecake, bread pudding, creme caramel, chocolate mousse and profiteroles. My favourite of the bunch was the creme caramel. It was silky and rich with the smoky sweetness of the burnt sugar. It was also cooked properly exhibiting no air bubbles. For the other items I did try, I didn't think anything was amiss and they really seem to know their chocolate here. Well, they do have a chocolate buffet available as well. In essence, this is a pretty comparable buffet to that of the Pan Pacific, Waterfront, Hotel Vancouver and the Burnaby Hilton. As with any brunch buffet, there are highlights as well as flops. It is very hard to control the consistency and quality in a buffet setting. In all honesty, there is very little separating the aforementioned hotel brunch buffets. It all comes down to personal preference and pricing. For me, I still like the one at Griffin's; but in terms of dining space, the Pan Pacific has the nicest view.
- Good selection of items
- Service is above-average
- Excellent prime-rib and seafood
- The buffet area is far too cramped
- Dining room is not well-lit, hence it doesn't feel like Sunday morning brunch