As most of you may know, I am a huge fan of the brunch buffet. What's there not to love? Endless champagne, oysters and egg bennys - that's exactly how I like to spend my Sunday mornings. Of course I was giddy with excitement when the girls and I made plans to go to the Ivy two weekends ago. I'd heard some bad buzz about their dinner service but some good reviews about brunch. So we decided to check it out ourselves.
From what I know about the Ivy - they've marketed themselves as a high end brand "contemporary, cosmopolitan" is how they described themselves on their website. I'd been to the restaurant before for drinks and you can definitely tell they've spent a pretty penny to transform the old Big Bucks building into something right out of Yorkville.
I walked in expecting something similar to Spencer's on the Waterfront, or the Ancaster Mill - and that is definitely not what I got. I was a little shocked to see a few banquet tables dropped with black table clothes on top. No props, no pizazz and no artfully displayed food platters. I was picturing something more lavish and refined - considering the interior of the joint itself is pretty dope - picture high ceilings, beautiful banquets, gorgeous light fixtures - the whole nine!
What surprised me more was the variety - there was none. There were two cold stations with two types of cold salad, a handful of generic cheese selections and a platter of smoked salmon and prosciutto. The bread station was even more atrocious! There were muffins still in the plastic wrapper and prepackaged cups of cereal. The hot station had the basics - bacon, potato, sausage and peameal bacon. To sum it up, both the stations were just filler items pulled straight from the Sysco/GFS catalogue - all very basic. I can guarantee everything came prepackaged in a box.
There were some highlights to the buffet - one being the seafood station. There was one gentlemen manning the station - who was very kind and polite by the way - shucking oysters. On the same table was a bowl of cold shrimp (also frozen and precooked) and a small ice bucket filled with crab claws. There were no more than a dozen oysters or crab claws available at one time. Unfortunately, they ran out forty minutes into Brunch. That's right - they shut down the station and there was no more seafood to be had! Brunch with no seafood = sad Chanry. We were pretty disappointing because that's the main attraction around Brunch - I'm definitely not going to eat $25 worth of eggs!
Another highlight was the warm waffles made to order. These were divine! The berries were fresh and combined with a little whipped cream made the entire thing a dream. Our table went back for seconds and thirds! The carrot cake - which I had a huge itching for was also pretty good - nice and moist and just the right amount of icing to cake ratio in my opinion.
Don't get me wrong, the space is absolutely gorgeous. We were seated under this stunning chandelier and the live walls surrounding the dining area are incredibly breathtaking. This place is really easy on the eyes. The quality of the brunch just wasn't on par with the atmosphere.
Another highlight of the meal was the a la carte items that went along with Brunch. We were able to order banana bread french toast, eggs benedict , as well as a 6oz steak to order. Kudos for making eggs benedict a la carte - the hollaindaise was fresh, the eggs were poached beautifully and it came with peameal bacon - gotta love the peameal! The banana french toast was a novel ideal but I found it too rich for me personally.
The steak was a pretty decent size and it came nicely charred and cooked just the way I had asked - if I had known sooner, I would have done steak and eggs for Brunch.
Despite having a pretty lackluster offering - the brunch was only priced at $25 (+tax & tip) not including mimosas or caesars. I would definitely consider this a good value if the seafood station was still there - but without it, you're really just paying for eggs in a bag, pre-made potato salad and muffins in a bag.
My opinion definitely would be different if there was enough seafood to last the entire duration. I'm not sure if this was just a fluke situation or something that happens on the regular. There was an omelette station - which I didn't have so I can't comment on but I did have a slice of the roast beef from the carving station. It wasn't too shabby. It's was a perfect medium and it came with all the fixings; horseradish, jus etc
On a positive note - service was great. We were seated promptly under the big chandelier and our server was attentive and kind. The restaurant filled up quite nicely while we were there.
I just felt like the overall look of the buffet was just very sloppy, I hate to say it - but it resembled any generic buffet you can find at a Holiday Inn. I don't mind having fewer options - if the quality is there. or shit ton of items with mediocre quality. But the Ivy was lacking in quality and quantity. I'd rather shell out another $20 and get endless mimosas/caesars with a fully stocked buffet at the other top notch brunch buffets in the city.
There were definitely highs and lows to the meal - the service was excellent, a la carte options a bonus and the waffles superb. I really wanted to like my first dining experience at Ivy but I feel like it just didn't live up to what I had envisioned and the brand they're perceived as in the community. I'm hesitate to try them out for dinner but I'll let you guys know if that ever happens. For now, I'll make brunch plans else where.
Ivy Bar & Kitchen
3330 South Service Road