A comedian once described brunch as, “…a meal invented by rich white chicks to rationalize day drinking and binging on French toast.”
I don’t know about it being exclusive to white chicks, cause gay men have been meeting for brunch since about the time of Lincoln. In my younger days if you got lucky on Saturday night and hooked up with a particularly good-looking man, you brought him to brunch the next day to show off. And if you didn’t hook up (or your hook-up was less than fabulous), you showed up by yourself anyway, just to see how your friends had scored.
Sometimes brunch was little more than coffee and scrambled eggs at the local diner, but sometimes we’d get festive and end up a hotel or fancy restaurant. I still enjoy those bountiful buffets you find at fine dining establishments and hotels.
However, now I’m lucky enough to show up with the handsomest man in the room every time, because I married him. Here are a few places to check out the next time you’re feeling extravagant.
Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
2301 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
After a decade of hosting only special events, Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina’s Pier Top is offering a once a month “Brunch in the Sky.” Unlike other brunch spots in the area, Pier Top’s luxury space is situated on the 17th floor of the Fort Lauderdale landmark hotel, giving guests a 360-degree view of Fort Lauderdale’s oceanfront landscape, in a room that rotates every 66 minutes. Visitors will relish what seems like a never-ending sight that spans across the Intracoastal, and all the way out to the ocean.
Yes, the room rotates every 66 minutes, and a round trip on the elevator takes 66 seconds, and there are 66 spikes in the crown that tops the building. All those 66 references date back to the time when the property was owned by the Phillips 66 gasoline company. The marina featured the company’s gas for refueling yachts and speedboats, there was a gas station on the grounds and, of course, the landmark restaurant, which opened in….1967 (although construction was completed in 1966).
Now that that bit of trivia is out of the way, let’s talk about the opulent buffet which gives an entirely new meaning to bountiful. There’s a sushi station with standard rolls as well as more unusual fare such as; herb-crusted ahi tuna, pastrami spiced scallops, passion fruit glazed poached shrimp, salmon tartar, and grilled octopus. For those not fond of fish, other small dish options showcase; confit potato with pork belly, duck confit and fig tart, imported and domestic cheeses and a charcuterie display, as well as an abundance of vegetable dishes; hearts of palm salad, shaved fennel, tropical orzo salad, and assorted spreads (baba ghanoush, salmon mousse and hummus) served with artisanal breads.
A variety of stations offer up everything from slices of Tomahawk prime rib, ham or turkey, to omelets and eggs prepared with a variety of accompaniments, pancakes made to order and specialty pasta dishes, such as wild mushroom & porcini ravioli or primavera. Finish off your meal with a medley of sweets from a display that features Key lime tarts, cannoli, coconut panna cotta, coffee tres leches, rice pudding, macaroons, chocolate dipped strawberries, dulce de leche tarts with raspberries and assorted petit fours. Unlimited mimosa and bloody Mary drinks are included in the $75 per person tab. The next dates for the Pier 66 brunch are Nov. 18 and Dec. 9. Reservations are recommended for both seatings (11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.), although walk-ins are welcome.
American Social Bar & Restaurant.
721 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Whether you’re looking to start your weekend with a bang or just nurse the headache from last night, the decadent atmosphere of American Social Bar, is a good way to start the day. Available Saturdays and Sundays, the buffet is a steal. The all-you-can-eat deal, served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., is just $21.50 per person. Items run the gamut, from made-to-order omelets, freshly pressed Belgian waffles, salt-and-pepper prime rib, fried chicken, chilled snow crab legs, house-smoked Atlantic salmon, two kinds of breakfast sausages, hickory smoked bacon, roasted potatoes, to warm biscuits and gravy, and an assortment of baked goods. More interested in the booze? A bottomless bloody Mary/mimosa package runs an additional $18 per person.
3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale
We all love choices. At Shooters members of your party may opt to order from the a la carte menu or go for the all-you-can-eat $40 brunch buffet. The buffet features a carving station, custom omelet station, waffles, sushi, bagels, pastries and salads. The unlimited drink option (Bloody Mary or mimosa) is $20 per person. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shooters also offers free Yoga classes every Saturday at 8:30 a.m., before brunch, so you can get your Bikram on with a complimentary glass of rosé.
Pelican Grand Beach Resort
2000 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Pelican Grand's Ocean 2000 restaurant has a veranda that opens right on the beach for a brunch about as close as you can get to the Atlantic Ocean without being on a yacht. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., enjoy unlimited access to the food-covered tables, including a seafood tower, meat carving stations, made-to-order waffles and omelets, and build-your-own pasta bowls. For a sweet ending to your bacchanal, a dessert table is offered, all for $60 per person.
1245 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
1490 NE 23rd St., Pompano Beach
While not a buffet, the weekend brunch (served Saturday and Sunday) at J. Marks certainly merits mention in an article on bountiful brunches. The a la carte menu contains such tempting dishes, such as filet and eggs, steak tips and eggs, a croissant sandwich (two fried eggs topped with Canadian bacon and Velveeta cheese), a Belgian Waffle, and breakfast eggrolls (stuffed with scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and Velveeta cheese). For the health conscious, there’s the veggie egg-white omelet.
That extensive list of options doesn’t even include J. Marks’ variations on eggs Benedict. In addition to the classic version (served on Tuscan ciabatta bread), it offers a vegetarian version served atop sautéed spinach, with fresh tomato slices as well as sun-dried tomatoes. Other options include; bacon, blue crab, cheeseburger and the Fierro Bennie (prosciutto and smoked mozzarella topped with poached eggs, and spicy sauce). It wouldn’t be brunch without Mimosas and Bloody Mary options, and at $3 each or $15 for unlimited refills, it’s quite a bargain.
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