When we heard a brunch buffet was coming to SoNo we had our doubts. When we hear the word buffet we get an immediate scowl on our faces. I mean let’s face it, there are plenty ‘o crappy buffets out there, packed full of stale, processed, fatty, fried, foods that are luke warm at best. On the flip side, we love us some brunch . . . except for the price tag that often comes along with it. So we figured, if the brunch buffet was actually going to be any good, well, then we assumed it was going to cost a stupid amount of money. Here’s the thing though (spoiler alert), the brunch at Washington Prime was actually delish AND, at just $29.95 a person, yep you read that right, it’s frickin’ dirt cheap. Especially when you see what that gets you. Let’s do this . . .
We were immediately pleased with the cool, chill ambiance of Washington Prime with their big windows letting lots of light in, a beautifully large bar at the entrance, cozy booths, and fun greenery on the walls. Once we were seated, our server took our drink order (you get one drink for your $29.95: a mimosa, bellini, bloody mary, or a moscow mule). Once we got that and some coffee (a bottomless cup is just a couple bucks extra), we checked out the buffet spread. Turns out there is a helluva lot there, and it all looked primo:
- breads and pastries
- a full lox spread including toppings with mini bagels
- cereals and yogurts
- shrimp and freshly shucked oysters with sauces
- pasta salad
- typical breakfast goodies like bacon, sausage, eggs benedict, and French toast
- a prime rib and omlete station
- and tons of dessert cakes and cookies
If you play your cards right you can cover the full spread in 4 rounds of well-packed plates. You best believe we took down as much of the buffet as possible so that we could give you, our fine readers, the most accurate kind of review. We were actually so committed to this post and checking out as many of the food items as possible, that we went back with some friends who were visiting from Cali. The sacrifices we make for our art . . .
First of all, we dug the drinks. Dan got the Moscow Mule, his first ever, and loved the snap and spiciness from the ginger that was balanced nicely with the vodka. Kristien went with mimosas and bellinis that perfectly hit the spot. For our second visit we discovered that you could actually buy unlimited brunch cocktails. Unfortunately, we weren’t told about this option until near the end of our meal after we had already thrown down some bucks for round after round. Oh well, we’ll just have to go back. Darn!
And, well, onto the food. We started with the lighter stuff like shrimp cocktail and the tasty oysters which were constantly being refreshed and iced. As our server saw us enjoying them, he brought over a plate of four of their best oysters with sauces and a baby bottle of hot sauce for us to take down. Very nice touch. After this, we took down some of the smoked salmon that we were able to top with a helluva lot of capers and onions. The first time we went, there was nothing to put the salmon on, but we were happy to see that they added mini-bagels when we revisited. Both times, though, we enjoyed the delicate smooth-like-butter salmon.
From there, we went onto some of the classic breakfast dishes like thick slabs of bacon that had a tad bit of sweetness to them, most likely from maple and crispy, flavorful potatoes. Oh, and the sausage, yes, the sausage had a beautiful crisp skin and a soft inside that was full of flavor. Mmmm. We also had an eggs benedict that was staying warm in the chaffing dish. The flavors were all there, but the egg was closer to medium-well than soft like we dig. We think that this was because it was sitting for a while and the heat from the sterno cooked the egg more than they had wanted. Also, we tried some of the French toast which was great by itself, but was even better wwith the smoked maple syrup that you can pour on anything there that you’d like.
The next course that we made was pasta salad which was set up in a good way because you could add in as much cheese or salami that you’d like, keeping meat and cheese lovers happy while also keeping vegeterians happy. But you know we couldn’t put just THAT on a plate. Nope, it needed some company, so we got a freshly prepped omlette loaded up with veggies and bacon. And, since we were right there, we took a couple o’ slices of a beautiuflly prepared medium rare prime rib. The gravy that you could spoon onto the prime rib was rich and had notes of aromatic rosemary wafting through.
And, finally, we had to check out some of the pastries, right? Right! During our first visit Kristien’s mom tried the chocolate cake which was rich, moist, and some of the best she had ever tried. She had also tried the almond croissant which had a nice and crunchy outside, yet remained delicate inside. Dan took down an entire Raspberry Danish. Key feature of this Danish that couldn’t be beaten: those awesome crumblies on top. Really, is there anything better than crumblies? The dough was excellent with a nice chewy give and the raspberry filling was bold and fresh.
The value of this brunch is definitely undeniable when you could easily throw down $50 in just drinks at an equal caliber spot. And, what’s great to see is that the quality of food is excellent with very few of the pitfalls you see in buffets. We did notice that the second time we went seemed better, like they had fixed some things that weren’t working. We also noticed both times that a worker came by the buffet room every few minutes to clean up, replace, and refresh items. Our service was, for the most part, good, though we did have a few minor issues like not learning about the bottomless mimosas or not getting the full explanation of the buffet and how it worked during our first visit.
As far as the future of Washington Prime, we think they’ll continue to do well and draw people in with their brunch buffet. But, they are definitely trying to make a name for themselves with their lunch and dinner menus as well. When we visited WP, Chef Jared Falco was Executive Chef, but as you might know he recently joined Amore Cucina & Bar in Stamford with Chef Bruno DiFabio. At the helm now at Washington Prime is Chef Hank McCall Jr. who has worked at Greenwich Country Club, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Capital Grille, Barcelona back in the day, and at Mint down in North Carolina. We definitely need to come back for some drinks and to try some din din.
Washington Prime Brunch
Noms: TBD after a dinner experience, but good, solid food at brunch
Address: 141 Washington Street
Phone: (203) 857-1314