(CNS Foodie): A friend’s birthday found us at the Marriott’s Anchor & Den Boulangerie Brunch recently, and while it’s a lovely array of traditional and unique brunch fare, I just don’t think it’s as comprehensive nor as delicious as one would expect for $79 per person (including grats).
I love brunch. And Sunday brunch is practically an institution here so I’m always excited to try new ones. I fully appreciate the value of quality bubbles and take time to experience the myriad of flavours and textures the chef has concocted for our pleasure. But there was something lacking at A&D. Was it intimacy? Was it a lower level of sophistication than I would have expected from the new and improved Marriott? Let’s dissect.
Our friend’s birthday seat was adorned with a couple of balloons and each of our party of six was offered a “welcome cocktail” when we arrived. Both are both nice touches, though the cocktail was a rum punch that had been watered down from melted ice. Meh.
There was a small corridor with the omelet station, self-serve hot table, salads and smoothies followed by a selection of unique bites, more hot dishes and the carvery.
The omelet station looked good but I can make tasty omelets at home so I moved onto the hot foods. Now, I go to brunch to experience a wide selection of fine cuisine. Unfortunately, the hot table was fairly standard – pancakes, waffles, French toast, benedict, followed by a chicken curry, a mahi escovitch dish, creamy polenta and a vegetable ragout. As a self-professed non-fan of polenta, I have to say that version made a believer out of me! It was smooth and creamy, like your most perfect mashed potatoes but different. The rest of the selections were OK, but none stood out as interesting or particularly delicious.
The salads had a bit more attention and were tasty combos, like beet, feta and arugula, and a bean salad on greens, which was all right, but the wild rice and quinoa just didn’t work for me. Pairing such dense rice with such a soft grain seemed odd and it wasn’t particularly flavourful. Everything was fresh and tasted OK but nothing was inspiring.
There was a smoked duck and eggplant tartine bite that was quite nice and a beautiful looking bouillabaisse, which unfortunately did not taste as lovely as it looked. It was somehow bland despite the variety of seafood and tomato-infused broth. The pork chop at the carvery was hands down our favourite dish. It was a full rack of chops that had been broiled to golden crispy perfection and then carved off the bone at your order. Perfectly seasoned, tender and juicy; I went back for seconds.
People love crepes, so it’s not surprising how many people rave about the crêpe station. I’m personally not a big crêpe person but since the last time I had one was in 1989, I decided to give it a try. I ordered a berry crêpe and found it pretty nondescript. Crepes are just too spongy for my taste but if you’re into crepes, it’s certainly a nice touch.
My favourite station was the rustic wooden market stall with the cheese wheels and hanging cured meats. One thing A&D has done is taken time to keep some fine meats and cheeses in stock and on display in the entry. The several varieties of goat’s and cow’s milk cheeses available, mostly Spanish I believe, will make your taste buds dance. Too bad the breads offered at the station were boring sliced baguette. Some mini sourdough or some fresh-baked round breads would have been a lovely accompaniment.
I would be remiss not to mention the delicious De Chanceny Cremant de Loire bubbles. No need for orange juice if you don’t want it. Quite lovely. And the sushi and raw bar were also enjoyed, especially the oysters, which my companion particularly indulged in.
The dessert stand was an assortment of four different bites – chocolate cake, mango cheesecake, chocolate torte and meringue macaroon. As expected, they were all right but didn’t excite me. The staff did come up singing with a slice of a gorgeous nine-layer German chocolate cake for the birthday girl. The icing was chocolaty velvet and each layer of cake was about an inch thick and the perfect density to give the tall cake enough body to stand but still be light enough to eat. Too bad that wasn’t available to everyone!
While the Anchor & Den brunch covered all the bases and then some, I just wasn’t moved by the preparations and flavours for the cost of the meal. The atmosphere is nice but it’s a hotel, so it’s open, loud and busy. Going for a photo session stroll in the courtyard between courses is definitely a nice diversion, though. Too bad the beautiful gardens are all gone. Overall it was a fun outing with friends but it wasn’t as intimate as some brunches nor as gourmet as others. I expected more from the Marriott.
Category: Golden Spoons Review