My mother is in town so I did a little searching around Chowhound.com for recs on Sunday brunch. I wanted to take her to one of those everything-under-the-sun hotel brunches and it turns out that there aren't many in NYC any more. I used to love the one at the Waldorf Astoria's Peacock Alley, but it closed, which is too bad. The Waldorf had an INCREDIBLE Sunday brunch with a huge and, most importantly, tasty variety. So instead, we went to Sunday brunch at Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel. Here's my review:
The setting is fantastic, with the palm trees and chandeliers, ice sculptures and shining silver. Music softly played in the background. The food is not very well lit, but I think the problem is mainly because it is situated in the middle of a dance floor of a ballroom. Hard to get good lighting in there.
Palm Court boasts a selection of over 200 items, which, I guess if you count each individual fruit displayed, there technically would be over 200 items. Personally, the brunch selection wasn't that interesting. There were fresh fruit, deviled eggs, several kinds of pate and terrines, marinated and roasted veggies, a couple of different salads, cold cuts (which totally baffled me), these tiny and not very tasty bagels and these huge bialy looking things, lox and other smoked fish, raw oysters and clams, cocktail shrimp (juicy), crab claws (dry), omelette station (ok), cheese board (lactose intolerant, but looked just ok -- not a large selection), hot food which included lamb instead of roast beef, seafood newburg, bacon & sausage, french toast, hot veggies, meatballs, some sort of ziti and a large dessert table.
There was a bread table, and some of the breads were dry. They had muffins, croissants, fruit/nut breads, rolls, etc. And a fair assortment of jams/jellies. And this incredible French butter. But no good hearty loaf bread. I really could have had a good slice of French sourdough boule to go with the great butter. But I guess that's not what the Plaza's brunch is about. Plus allowing customers to slice their own bread would create a disaster area of crumbs and quite possibly some cut fingers.
I was also surprised that they only had an omelette table. I was hoping for a waffle/french toast table. They did serve these tiny French toasts at the hot buffet table, with a choice of fresh berries, confectioner's sugar, acacia honey and syrup (and I think whipped cream, but honestly, I can't remember). That was good, but not as good as a fresh hot waffle right off the iron.
The desserts in turn were also just okay. Lots of pretty cakes with various kinds of mousse and ganache. There were also trays of fudge like desserts and pans of hot bread pudding, bananas foster, pear crumble and some sort of meringue dish, with an assortment of toppings for each.
If you get there before 12, the buffet is $59, which includes freshed squeezed orange juice and coffee/tea (and tax & gratuity). After 12 they serve a champagne (or other alcohol) brunch, which costs more. Oh, and make a reservation. I made my reservation several days in advance and they gave us a really good table, which impressed me.
You know, at the Waldorf, they not only had quantity, but they also had quality. Unfortunately, Palm Court only gives you quantity. The food didn't taste that great. I could tell the food was fresh and the ingredients were good, but they haven't reached the temperature/quantity/quality balance. Overall, it was a fun experience and definitely something to do with out-of-towners. But I don't think I will be going back anytime soon. Instead, I will have Sunday brunch at the 1,000s of other great places in NYC and dream of the bygone days of Sunday brunch at Peacock Alley.