Monday, March 5, 2012

Fontana's Sunday Champagne Brunch at The Biltmore Hotel

I often get asked where I took my profile picture for my blog. I always respond that it was at the most lavish brunch in Miami: Fontana at the the Biltmore Hotel. While I have had the pleasure to go to several opulent Sunday Brunches in Miami, I just haven't found any that compare to the one at the Biltmore. A combination of elegance, sophistication, and superb cuisine, Fontana's extravagant Sunday Champagne Brunch fulfills its promise to fascinate our senses and entice our palate. From the timeless beauty of the romantic courtyard, to the acoustic guitarist playing a diverse repertoire of music, the experience is unparalleled and magical, and there just isn't another way to describe it.

First we need to imagine the ambiance. The Biltmore Hotel is a National Historic Landmark, nestled in the heart of Coral Gables. It was built in the 1920's, and captivates all who enter it with a history that is both rich and impressive. Perhaps one of the most alluring aspects of the Biltmore is its Mediterranean Revival architecture.  Exquisite, hand-painted frescos on barrel-vaulted ceilings, elegant marble columns, dark mahogany furnishings and an impressive tower, all adorn this charming masterpiece. Now imagine a restaurant that along with indoor seating, also offers diners the delight of enjoying award-winning cuisine in the courtyard of such an intricate setting; listening to the soothing sounds of the water cascading from the fountain that sits in its center, surrounded by lush and tropical landscaping.  Those sitting in the tables and chairs around the fountain enjoy the warm climate of Miami, covered by far-reaching umbrellas which protect them from the sun. The others enjoy the scenery in cozy tables for two placed strategically along the corridors around the courtyard. That is Fontana, and this is where my Sunday adventure began.

As I walked along the corridors surrounding the courtyard, I was once again mesmerized at the  abundance of food on the buffet tables containing the different stations. My first stop is always the Seafood, Caviar and Raw Bar Station, where I find the favorite part of my adventure: the caviar and roe. They offer a variety of four caviar and roe, presented with blini, toast points and the traditional condiments of chopped red onions, capers, hard-boiled egg whites and egg yolks, and sour cream. I have to admit that as usual, I graced this table several times during my visit. Other favorites I enjoyed were the chilled shrimp, Florida Stone Crabs, oysters, smoked Scottish salmon and smoked white fish and mahi-mahi. There are also a variety of seafood salads and ceviches to choose from as well..

I love to eat all my cold items first, so my next stop was the the sushi station. The fish is always very fresh and prepared skillfully by the sushi chefs. Selections include sushi rolls and sashimi made with tuna, salmon, white fish, shrimp and crab. By this point, I couldn't carry anything else, so I walked back to my table to find my champagne flute had already been filled with a sweet mimosa, and as I had requested, I also had a nice glass of orange juice right next to it. That is one additional perk here you don't always find in other Sunday brunches. You can have all the champagne and mimosas your heart desires. Additionally, the service here is impeccable and extremely attentive at all times.

After thoroughly enjoying the feast before me, I headed over to the Breakfast Station. I grabbed a croissant along the way from one of their fresh baked bread selections. At the Breakfast Station, I chose the Eggs Benedict which came with ham and Black Truffle Hollandaise Sauce. I also got some country sausage links and patties, and a spoonful of Roasted red potatoes whose aroma called to me. I knew I'd be raiding the dessert room in just a short while, so I bypassed the pancakes and selected an individual quiche instead. There is also an amazing Omelette Station featuring chef prepared omelettes with an assorment of vegetables, cheeses, meat and seafood.

Finding I still had some room on my plate once I rearranged a couple of my goodies, I strolled over to the Carving Station, and picked up a couple more delicious items. I asked for a thin cut of the Leg of Lamb with mint sauce and jelly, and a slice of the Rib Eye with horseradish mousseline. My eyes caught a glimpse of the Vanilla Rum Sweet Potato Mash and I knew I just had to have a dollop, so in the infamous words of Rapper's Delight, "I poured some more on my plate". Finally, and before I carried this treasure of gastronomical proportions back to my table, I placed a spoonful or three, of the beautiful looking paella beckoning me to eat it.

There are several other stations, some of which I was unable to sample from the mere fact that I just couldn't fit another bite in. For example, there is a Salad Station with a wide variety of salads such as Blue Crab and Avocado, Greek Salad, and Mediterranean Grilled Chicken with Tarragon and Capers. There are also other Greek favorites such as Stuffed Grape Leaves, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Kalamata and Greek Olive Tapenade and Cracker Bulgur Wheat Tabbouleh. As if all this food was not enough, you will find a Tapas Station with assorted cheeses, meats and pates and a Pasta Station with imported pastas cooked to order.

I love to save the best for last and today is no exception. Despite having some difficulty taking a deep breath, being as full as I was, I strutted over to the dessert area. For a minute, I thought I entered an oasis of sheer pleasure. There was a chocolate fondue fountain to my right with strawberries, marshmallows and pieces of sponge cake to dip. Then there were assorted hand-dipped ice-creams with a selection of toppings. As I turned to my left, I thought I heard some harps playing in my mind...and there they were: the chef's pastries. The selection was great and I suddenly wished I had ten arms, but I knew I couldn't sample them all, so after much thought, I made my choices. I tasted the Chocolate Oremeus, Floating Island, Cake Pop, Tiramisu, Chocolate Peanut Tart, Chocolate Cremeux, Pistachio Financier with Nutella, and my favorite...drum roll please..Chocolate Fondant. They're portioned just right to give you the freedom to go wild and try a whole bunch in one sitting. All of them were incredible; beautifully created and absolutely delicious.

On a recent visit to Fontana for a friend's birthday dinner, I had the privilege of getting a behind the scenes look at the Biltmore kitchens with Hotel Executive Chef Rolando Cruz-Taura. It was quite an impressive experience to see how and where cuisine of this caliber is prepared and the daily dedication and talent that goes into making these culinary creations. I highly recommend treating yourself to a Sunday Champagne Brunch at Fontana at the Biltmore Hotel, and you'll understand where my passion to write this came from. To check pricing or to make reservations, visit them online at or call them at 305-445-1926

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  1. You can definitely see your expertise within the article you write.
    The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren't afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.
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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate them. I try to be honest and passionate in my writing. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my review. Best regards, Maria

  2. I agree with you regarding the Biltmore brunch. Really awesome! Think I'll visit Coral Gables this Sunday. Ciao!

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