I am all about a good all-you-can-eat brunch. Gimme the ayce oysters, charcuterie, cheese and whatever crazy brunch special the chef has! On this occasion, we headed to the Ritz Carlton for my girlfriends birthday brunch.
Lets just put this one on the table right now; this was a $103.41 per person brunch (tip was already included because we were a large party & yes, tax included). Keep reading if you're curious to see what $103.41 brunch gets you or, you can just scroll through the pics and tell yourself you'd never be foolish enough to pay that price.
Oh, did you decide to keep reading? Thanks Boo.
Lets go over all of the stations. There is a beef wellington carving station, cold salad + seafood, DIY caesar bar, hot food, omelette live station (chef stands there and eggs are cooked to order), dessert room, and bread station with breakfast pastries. They did a great job of visually making all of the stations very appealing. I would have preferred a standard roast beef carving station and maybe a ham or one more hot item carved to be honest. It would have added a better perception of value.
From my perspective, I immediately break it down from a cooks point of view. So, there are really only three stations - garde manger, hot banquets and pastry department. Garde Manger would be anything cold, so in this case - the salad, charcuterie, seafood station and bread + breakfast pastries. I'm not even going to talk about the bread station cause that's just foolish at an ayce joint. Who wants to get full off bread?
Half the cold station was just salad topping - seeds, dressing, mixed greens etc. All that generic salad bar type items. Yay, cherry tomatoes and grated carrots - not really. There was also cold lobster tails, oysters, shrimp and crab. Obviously this was my favourite part of brunch. In fact, I loved it so much I had a plate of oysters and lobster in-between every other plate - and trust me, I had multiples. A girls gotta get her money's worth!
There was a handful of pre made salads and grilled veggies also. That didn't impress me much. It only takes up space on the table so it looks like there is more variety. You can't fool me Ritz! I didn't go to a $103.41 brunch so I can eat some stinkin' grilled zucchini and eggplant. Of course there were plenty of skinny b//tches there who gushed over fried onions and juicy plump tomatoes on the buffet. Pshhh, amateurs.
Much like Vegas buffets - and this will be the only time I will ever compare this buffet to Vegas - there was tiny portions of complete dishes like seared tuna & fancy salad scattered around. This was a great visual and again, took up lots of space on the table, but sadly, not too impressive in flavour.
The cheese cave in the middle of the dining area was très awesome. Of course I was nosy and asked for a tour and luckily, the chef at the omelette station was nice enough to patronize me. She was actually a very lovely individual. Toca, where brunch was held, serves as an Italian restaurant most days of the week.
The DIY Caesar bar was a neat addition but I usually try not to fill up on liquids during a buffet - another amateur mistake. Brunch also comes with unlimited Mimosa's & Bellini's. So yes, $103.41 does come with some booze.
It was pretty standard for hot food options. Everything was done very well, nothing was over cooked and things were being flipped on the buffet very quickly. I wouldn't expect anything less from the Ritz. The fish remained moist and the pancakes were fluffy like pillows. The eggs didn't get too hard and the sausage and bacon weren't sitting in its own oil. Whoever maintained the hot food on the buffet did a great job. All the items on the buffet were always being replenished. I'm very picky about this sort of thing cause this was my job back in the day.
The charcuterie and cheese are always a go to item for me - ya'll know cured meat gets me weak in the knees. The variety wasn't over the moon ridiculous but it was enough to keep me coming back for more.
They also ran out of oysters half way through brunch which was unimpressive. If I'm paying that price, nothing should ever run out. For $103.41 you should be able to keep up with my oyster consumption.
They had a little dessert room that appeared really lavish and over the top but nothing in there actually blew my mind away when it come to taste and flavour. Everything was presented beautifully but flavour wise - it was all pretty bland. Very old school and not very innovative - I feel like this is very much the Ritz Carlton brand (old school). A panna cotta, some cakes decorated with a piece of fruit and maybe a chocolate shaving or swirl. whoop. dee. doo. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I was very excited to see a box of macarons at the dessert table, unfortunately they were picked clean by the time I was ready to have any. We mentioned this to our server and he promptly filled them up and brought the box to our table and served us table side. This type of service is partly the reason you're paying $103.41 for eggs and bacon. The service at the Ritz has a reputation for being absolutely outstanding, like above and beyond, mind blowing kind of stuff. Our server was incredibly professional, kept the drinks flowing and was very accommodating.
I was not kidding when I said I sandwiched a plate of seafood in between each plate, I needed my money's worthy yo, and seafood takes up little to no space in your stomach anyways!
So, over all it was a fun experience to be at the Ritz and fancy it up with my girlfriends but would I ever go again? No. $103.41 for brunch is way out of my price range but judging from how busy it was - there are definitely people out there willing to pay. Maybe it's the luxury of being able to say you were at the Ritz but food wise it's not worth it. The Ancaster Mill brunch is half the size and they're the only brunch in town that can keep up with my oyster intake. Thanks guys!
To be honest, it's definitely one of those places I would go once - and then never again. No, I lie, I'd only go back if they had a two for one deal on Groupon.
Toca - The Ritz Carlton
181 Wellington Street West