Elegant Buffet Brunch at Ai Fiori
Ai Fiori recently launched Sunday Brunch a few weekends ago. When I read the menu on their website originally, I presumed, it’s a two-course brunch for $65. But I thought, why not go there with my parents since I did have a very good experience for dinner a few years ago for my mother’s birthday. And it’s a great (albeit gluttonous and decadent) sendoff for myself before I head out to Barcelona, Spain.
When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by two lovely hostesses and heard soft jazz music playing and realized there’s a band playing on one far end of the dining room.
When we were given the menu, our waiter informed us that it’s mostly a buffet-style set up where the appetizers (like smoked salmon, whitefish salad, charcuterie, cheeses, fresh baked breads, warm, flaky buttery croissants, etc.) and desserts (miniature bittersweet chocolate tarts, sliced fresh fruit tarts, and olive oil cake glazed with lemon zest) where self-serve and the main course is where you would pick from the menu.
Desserts are exemplary since they’re under the very capable hands of pastry chef Bob Truitt and his team.
It’s hard to pick a favorite since everything is delicious. The brunch cocktails ($17 each) were nicely balanced. The Pera ‘Tivo made of Grey Goose Poire, Lazzaroni Amaretto, Saint Elizabeth Allspice, and lemon was refreshing with the sweet-bitterness of pear vodka, amaretto and tart lemon end note. My mother enjoyed her sweet Ambrosiana mixed with Russian Standard vodka, Aperol, pineapple, and vanilla. I thoroughly liked my Baedeker composed of Hayman’s Old Toms gin, Root Spirit, lime, ginger. Nicely spicy and sort of brooding kind of cocktail lightened up by the gin.
The yogurt was a do-it-yourself kind of thing where you would find a small bucket full of crushed ice and dainty jars filled with plain whole milk yogurt and various bowls of toppings were left for you to decide how you’d like your yogurt parfait. I layered mine with their sweet, viscous housemade Mission fig jam, housemade crunchy granola, and topped with a few berries and honeydew slices. This was arguably the healthiest of the items served at that buffet for those who are watching their figure.
The charcuterie platter had tissue-thin slices of parmacotto, proscuitto, sopressata, felino. Cheese options were a delightfully creamy La Tur cheese, Reading Spring Brook Farms, and sweet and grassy Pyrenees Brebis cheese.
My mother’s lobster benedict was a decadent (and beautiful) dish of warm, pillowy English muffin set with perfectly poached eggs with a yolky center, lobster chunks, and coated in luscious bernaise sauce.
I can never pass on Chef White’s fresh pastas so I opted for the Trofie Nero, a springy, squid ink pasta topped with a Ligurian crustacean ragù of sepia, scallops and spiced breadcrumbs. This was my favorite thing I ate from the entire meal.
My father opted for the White Label burger. Despite the fact it’s cooked a few degrees medium than medium-rare (that we requested), it’s still a very beefy, rich burger especially when it’s topped with a fried egg that has a runny yolk, American white cheese and bacon marmalade. The side of Pomme Dauphines were easily to nibble on since it’s delicately crisp on the outside and has an almost creamy center.
Though feeling quite stuffed, I had to finish on a sweet note and opted for the fine crumbed, moist olive oil cake that’s glazed with lemon and I plated it with a citrus salad, mixed berries and a schmear of their housemade fig jam. I also split the vanilla millefeuille with my mother and we were both swooning how flaky the pastry was and the pastry cream was heady with vanilla.
If you’re looking for an elegant brunch that would you want to impress your parents (like mine) and who likes to eat large portions, Ai Fiori is your spot.
To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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