Wednesday, July 08, 2009
I finally found the breakfast buffet that I've been questing for years. Some place that has great food, great service, great ambiance and is right downtown. I must admit it's on the expensive side for breakfast ($26.00/person), but it's incredibly satisfying, a beautiful all you can eat spread along with made to order omelettes if you wish, and the price includes bottomless tasty coffee, teas and fresh juices (orange, apple, grapefruit, cranberry). It's the big breakfast buffet at The Westin Bayshore's Currents in Coal Harbour (1601 Bayshore Drive, 604-682-3377). It's served from 6:30 - 11:00 am, which is fantastic for someone like me who likes to sleep in on a day off and have a long leisurely breakfast with a copy of the newspaper (plenty of all three major papers here are provided at a big round table at the front).
For good food, I want all of the hot breakfast favourites in unlimited quantities, "properly" done. Crisp bacon, eggs that are not overcooked (a made to order egg option helps a lot with this, good sausages, a variety of pastries and fruit and some interesting or unusual items, and of course, decent coffee with easily accessible refills (but I'm not too concerned about whether this is due to a diligent server or a help yourself coffee station). In this case, it's super attentive service where they ask you if you want refills before you even think of it yourself. And their theme is "superfoods" so there are all sorts of fun items rich in nutrients, like a variety of nuts and dried fruit including high quality dates. They also have some great smoked salmon, and a beautiful salad, and different items such as roasted yams or veggies. There's a variety of fantastic pastries in nice reasonably small sizes, and even little portions of thick fruity smoothies. Their yoghurt muesli is tasty too. They even have a eggs benedict type dish in the hot buffet section, and as I said earlier, it's nice to have the option of having an omelette or eggs made to order as well.
In terms of good service, I want a place that actually makes me feel welcome even though it's early in the morning, and I'm not really a morning person. For buffets, the servers pretty much just need to not get in the way. The food is always ready when you are, so you're not waiting for someone to bring you things generally. Essentially, you just need to staff to keep things clean, the buffet station looking nice and inviting, and sometimes to provide coffee, juice, water, and made to order items.
For ambiance, I like to have a place relaxed enough that I can read the newspaper and bonus points if they provide those newspapers, and especially if there is enough for everyone, and you don't spend every morning just coveting the paper at someone else's table. I generally like a place that is clean and comfortable. I'm pretty flexible about the decor. I do tend toward pretty surroundings but am happy with eclectic or old places as long as it's not ugly or uncomfortable. I like big windows and good natural light in the morning. This place is beautiful, comfortable, and has expansive windows looking out onto a pool and landscaping.
Generally, I like good value, where I feel like the price is fair. That sometimes means that it is incredibly cheap, but sometimes it means that you get such a good experience that it feels worthwhile. This falls in the second category, and is actually on the lower end of the big fancy hotel brunches in town, which can go up to $40+ per person.
I like the fact that there is no wait and it's quiet, where I can easily get a window seat. I almost worry that telling too many people about it may ruin the serenity of the place, but it's a big room, and they seem to have their system down too, so I'm sure they could handle a crowd if need be. I didn't feel rushed ever, so it's a great place to catch up with someone over a long breakfast.
It's a splurge (in calories and temptation as much as in price), so it can't be my regular breakfast hang out, but it's nice to know that the breakfast of my dreams does exist and is there for me any day of the week that I want it. There is an a la carte menu also for those who have more restraint than I do...or perhaps for those who don't have enough restraint for a buffet.