Brunch buffets seem to be popular on Sundays. I guess people like to stuff themselves silly and then go home to take a nap. I myself am not a huge fan of a buffet, but when I received an invitation to to be a guest of Tony Mandola's to try the 50 foot Sunday Brunch Buffet ($35), I was intrigued. So my Mom and I braved the nasty weather last weekend to give it a try. Like Tony Mandola's regular menu, the buffet has a seafood and Italian focus.
There were many options, and I'll share with you some of the highlights and lowlights in this visual tour of the buffet.
Boiled shrimp and crab claws
These were definitely a highlight. The shrimp were sweet and perfectly cooked.
I'm not an expert when it comes to raw oysters, but these had a slight briny flavor and seemed very fresh. I went back for seconds.
I can't say the gumbo was a hit. It had a nice dark roux, but lacked the flavor that usually comes with a roux that dark. It was also not very spicy. There are other selections on the buffet that are better.
They have several salads to choose from on this buffet. I didn't eat any of them because who wants to waste valuable stomach space on vegetables? They looked beautiful, however.
The meatballs had to have been one of my favorite items available. They were nice and tender and were seasoned very well with plenty of garlic. Don't miss these.
For some reason, I got a picture of the snapper but didn't try it. Isn't he beautiful?
Of course I couldn't skip the Prime Rib! I wasn't a huge fan of the rub, but it was still flavorful and a nice addition to the buffet options.
The eggs benedict was pretty good. I felt like the Hollandaise needed a little salt, but I was impressed the yolk was still runny in my egg. I'm accustomed to a stereotypical English muffin with my benedict, and this reminded me more of a biscuit. If I were to visit again, I'd probably put another one of these on my plate.
Fried Chicken and a Waffle
The fried chicken was one of my favorites. Even though the breading was not incredibly crispy, the flavor made up for it. And of course I had to pair it with a waffle.
The bread pudding itself was good, but the sauce needed some oomph.
This chocolate cake was hard to stop eating. It was rich, but the chocolate frosting was not overly sweet. I'd go back just for this cake.
Coconut Cream Pie
The coconut cream pie was another winner. With this pie as well as the pear tart, you could taste the butter in the crusts. That made me happy.
As I was leaving, I asked myself if I would drive back down to Tony Mandola's to eat the buffet again. In short, yes, I would. The service was excellent and the food, even if it was a buffet, was very good. Were there some things that were better than others? Absolutely, but I could easily get my money's worth by filling up on some of my favorites such as the shrimp, oysters, meatballs and friend chicken. And I can't forget the chocolate cake. Oh, the chocolate cake.
Tony Mandola's is located at 1212 Waugh in Houston. For more information and their hours, visit. http://www.tonymandolas.com.