In late October I turned twenty-something-ish and instead of having friends over like I did last year, I decided to just dedicate the last few weeks of October to eating out and spoiling myself. Not too shabby of an idea if I do say so myself. My first stop on my birthday crawl involves my first trip to Spencer's at the Waterfront.
Technically it wasn't my birthday brunch - it was my girlfriend Marny's, but this was on my birthday list, so I considered it two birds with one stone. So technically it was my birthday brunch- but only in my head. Usually Birthday brunches are spent at the Ancaster Mill but Marny decided to spice it up this year and head to their more local sister location, Spencer's.
Hands down, brunch is my most favourite meal of the day. I just love the thought of being able to get bacon, roast beef and hollandaise sauce all together in one meal. This definitely is not an every Sunday kind of brunch considering it'll set you back about $50 a person - but for a special occasion it was well worth it. There were a few little bumps we ran into during service but we'll talk about that later.
If you've never been before, you can expect a combination of both hot & cold items on the buffet. A common staple is crab legs and oysters. I loved the crab legs here because they weren't all water logged and had good flavour - a little on the salty side but I quite enjoyed that. The oysters on the other hand were a bit of a mess, not the quality, just the execution of them. You were limited to only three at a time - first off, if I'm paying $50 you do not tell me how many oysters I'm allowed to have #fatgirlproblems.
And then secondly they had one cook shucking them one by one - I don't understand why they didn't just have a tray already shucked so they can replenish the oysters more quickly. Everyone knows that's what you do when you decided to put an oyster station on a buffet. That' what a prep cook is for! Instead, every time I went up for more I had to keep waiting. I know, I know, #firstworldproblems. But not cool for $50.
In general, I found if you're a seafood fan, Spencer's falls short compaired to the Ancaster Mill. They didn't have any shrimp cocktail and only offered one shrimp salad - which was pretty decent and one warm mussel dish - which was decent as well. Key word - decent.
What I was really impressed with was instead of a carving station they had an "a -la-carte" station where you're able to order complete mains made to order. I had a slice of the lamb leg and roast beef on their own (minus the mash and veggies) - both cooked exceptionally well. Everyone at the table loved the ravioli made to order and the gentlemen working the station was very accommodating, especially with my picture taking. Some people aren't too fond of that - can you believe it?
I thought this was a clever way of serving proteins that would normally just end up at a carving station. It make me feel like things were being cooked "a la minute" for me - even though the cook in me knows it was all prepped and sitting in a chafing dish.
Something I really didn't love about the brunch was the technical set up of the buffet. Of course I'm just being picky but there were stations spewed throughout the entire restaurant and because of the actual size of the dining room - it felt a little cramped. Once you dropped a few banquet tables down for the buffet (they're normally an a la carte restaurant) The cold station (pictured below) was in-between two tables and I felt like I was stepping into someones personal bubble while I was perusing the offerings. I just felt the buffet was way too close for comfort. But with that being said - the styling of the buffet was superb- aka that #$%^ was so pretty yo! Whoever styled that buffet knows exactly what they're doing!
The previously mentiond shrimp salad was nothing mind blowing but the quality of the shrimp used were fantastic, - super plump and juicy. The sushi was great and I loved the fact that it was made fresh right in front of you and they also offered brown rice sushi - which I'm not a fan off but you know some skinny chick out there is just salivating at the thought of it.
I loved the idea of having the hot items outside - and fortunately for us, it was a beautiful day that day. They offered bacon, sausage, peameal bacon, poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, pierogis and butter chicken. There was also an omelette station and a fresh crepe and waffle station outside. Kudos for serving mini individual waffles - so I could have a waffle and a crepe! Don't judge me.
Included in the price are mimosa's, fruit smoothies & juices as well as caesars - so if you like to go boozin' with your brunch, it is a great value.
Not gunna lie, the dessert table was also pretty impressive. The display was exceptionally grand and it seemed a lot more plentiful than the one in Ancaster. I still regret not sampling more from this table - I was just too stuffed by the end of it. But judging from the array of sweets - I'll definitely be saving room for dessert next time we're here. I could tell a lot of the items weren't made in house but I'm not judging because in this case, quantity surpass' quality.
At first glance, it doesn't look like a huge variety but the a la carte window previously mentioned offered a lot of the items you'd usually find at a live chef station else where. They had mini sliders, poached eggs and hash, pan seared trout, roast beef with yorkshire pudding, and even a soup of the day.Just putting it out there, all these plates weren't exactly my plates - like I would ever waste space on pizza or a mini slider. Please give me more credit than that! But I did style the plates a little so they were more photogenic. - Hey! That's just something you have to deal with if you're in my life okay?
Another aspect of the meal I really enjoyed was the changing of cutlery with every plate. At least, that's how our meal started. Our server was super attentive and changed everyones cutlery and folded our napkins every time we left the table - I love this style of service and his attention to detail. But that only lasted a short while because even before our entire party was onto dessert our sever was given a few other tables.
Picture our table of sixteen and then add another table of eight - I don't care if you are a rock star server - serving 24 people is a tough task. By the end of the meal we were getting our own cutlery from the side station, all of our glasses of water were empty, and the free flowing mimosas' ran dry. We were pretty much left stranded. Service started off very refined and polished and it just ended on a sour unimpressive note.
Now, I'm not blaming the server - this was a management issue too. He shouldn't have been assigned so many tables - especially when a majority of our table was still eating. A manager or even a busier or second server should have been assigned to our table. It definitely soured my first impression of Spencer's.
Overall there were highs and lows to the meal. The space in general is beautiful and you get a great view of the lake. I've heard mix reviews about their a la carte menu but I would definitely come back for brunch - maybe with a smaller group though.
Spencer's at the Waterfront
1340 Lakeshore Rd