Market Brunch @ the Ritz-Carlton Toronto

*UPDATE 12/OCT/2013 – Be warned that on holidays/special occasions that they jack up the price.  I found out the unpleasant way (as they did not give me the head’s up at time of booking so I ended up paying the almost-double Thanksgiving brunch price – regular price is $79). Suffice it to say that my best friend was got an extremely expensive birthday brunch courtesy of moi*   

How do you spoil a foodie on her special day?  You take her to brunch at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto.  I felt like royalty as a friend splurged and took me to the posh hotel for my twenty-something-th birthday.

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The brunch is buffet-style featuring many mouth-watering stations.  Oh, and lest I forget, it includes your choice of mimosa or bellini (as many as you like).

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I am glad that I went on an empty stomach and after a serious workout because the seafood + charcuterie station was like a candy store for me.  Oysters, mussels, lobster tails, shrimp, prosciutto… all pretty standard items but the condiments and fixings were what really made this station shine.  The cocktail sauces – possibly one of the best I’ve had with the right balance of tomato to sugar ratio without feeling like you’re dipping your crustaceans into a too-sweet jam.  It was just the right amount of thickness to coat the shrimp.  The pickled onions were also excellent.  I am a sucker for pickled things.

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Adjacent to the seafood + charcuterie station is a bounty of breads and pastries.  The croissant was particularly addictive as were the breadsticks.

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Those wanting a little more traditional North American breakfast could kick their feet up as omelets were prepared with your choice of ingredients.  And while you’re waiting in line you can ponder over what fresh fruits and cheeses you’d like to nibble on.

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The antipasto station had a selection of pâtés, rillettes, artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, olives and shrimp salads.

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The hot station featured items such as beef wellington au jus with horseradish and all the fixings, pancakes, salmon fillets in a seafood chowder sauce and chicken almondine in a tomato sauce.

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But my favourite station was the dessert station, housed inside Toca’s wine cellar.  I imagine this is a pretty good spread of what Marie-Antoinette’s lavish tea parties were like where “Let them eat cake” would be a most welcome squall.  Macarons, Paris-Brest pastry, profiteroles, crème brûlées, mousse cakes, tortes, marshmallows and melt-in-your-mouth fruit gummies.  There was also a chocolate fondue fountain.

IMG_3897 (427x640)My favourites were definitely the fruit gummies (like the fruit gummy equivalent of cotton candy) and the Paris-Brest pastry, prailine cream layers wedged in between choux pastry.  I can’t say I’ve experienced such decadent desserts elsewhere, and in such variety.

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And just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, the chef prepares a birthday cake for me (strawberry shortcake).  Happy birthday to @th3hungrycat with love from the Ritz-Carlton.  Somebody clearly pays attention to social media!

While I am never one for buffets, the Ritz-Carlton is a rare exception.  While it still encounters the universal problems of every buffet (e.g. keeping food warm for a prolonged period of time might mean your salmon is overcooked or the beef wellington is a tad dry) – the abundance of quality items makes for a great dining experience.  The ambiance is very relaxing and the service is attentive without being overbearing.  Tuck away into a booth for a romantic Sunday brunch or bring a group of girlfriends.  You won’t even notice how quickly time goes by  when you’re sipping on bellinis while eating your cavities worth in sweets!

Brunch is served every Sunday from 11:30AM – 3:00PM for $79 per person.  If you really want to splurge, the Veuve Cliquot brunch is the last Sunday of every month and features bellinis and mimosas made from yours truly.

This was one of the most amazing birthday treats I’ve received ever and I would highly recommend the Ritz-Carlton if you want to make someone feel truly special.

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