When I first told my wife that we were going to have brunch at Templeton Landing, she looked at me sideways and asked, “Really?” I told her that I had learned that the current chefs had finally figured out a few important details and it was time to try the location yet again. Over the years we had not had the best brunch experiences and were convinced that regardless of a name change (from Shanghai Reds to Templeton Landing), interior design enhancements, new docks, etc., the food formulas were always going to be the same – boring food with subpar service. I knew that I was putting my neck out by even suggesting brunch, but I’m a big fan of the Sunday meal, and if there was a chance that it was good, I wanted to know about it. So off we went.
We were joined by two of our meat-eating friends who told me that they were indifferent to the restaurant because they had recently moved to Buffalo from NYC. Perfect. When we arrived to our destination we noticed that there were not many cars in the parking lot. Not a good sign… yet we were going in with open minds and empty stomachs. We were greeted at the front door and taken directly to a waterside table. Since there weren’t a lot of people to contend with, we got a stellar view of the Erie Basin Marina. Although there were no boats out, as they were gone for the season, the fire pits were roaring and the patio furniture was still out. We actually thought about having our complimentary mimosas outside (at least I did), but within moments Patti, our server was at our side. Patti went through the brunch-time game plan, pointing out the different stations (bars) that we would find at the buffet as well as menu items that we could order and have prepared and delivered to the table.
The option of either heading to the buffet or having small entree plates delivered to the table was a nice touch. We decided to do both. Shortly after our coffees and pastries were brought to us, we ordered four different entrees to share amongst the table. Then we headed off to the omelet station to see what was cooking. The ingredients in each omelet were sautéed in the pan, before the eggs were added, creating an almost frittata-esque meal. Not only did the concoction look great, my wife and I agreed that it was one of the best omelets that we had had in recent memory. They were moist without being soggy and we were able to handpick each and every ingredient, right down to the pepper-salt and the basil. We also liked the lightness of the omelet since we were looking forward to sampling a number of items. The omelet station was so good, in fact, that we’ve already discussed heading back next Sunday. Not a bad start to our Sunday brunch.
By the time that we had finished our omelets, our four entrees began to arrive. This really was a good system. Before long we were staring at a large Belgian waffle, a seafood Benedict (see image below: crab cake drizzled with Charon sauce), a vegetable Wellington (above right) and sirloin medallions with gorgonzola (lead image). Now this may sound like a lot of food, but each dish was manageable, with the largest being the waffle. By this time, we were pretty engrossed with the spread before us, which was a good thing because thankfully I had bypassed the entire ‘first course’ station. Otherwise I would have gone directly into a food coma. I should note that that station was filled with peel and eat shrimp, mussels marinara, stuffed banana peppers, poached salmon, veggie crudités, fruit, salads and cheese. Not to mention that right across the aisle was the dessert station (another course that we didn’t venture to try). Someone told me that the ham off the bone was exceptional too.
I’ve got to hand it to Executive Chefs Tony Renda (lead photo top left standing with Chef Brendan Proulx) and Scott McCluskey (not pictured) for coming up with a brunch that presented nicely while featuring offerings for everyone. Nothing looked as if it had been sitting for long considering that there weren’t that many people in the restaurant. That’s because there were not huge amounts of food piled into chafing dishes, much like food troughs. My food picks of the day were the omelets and the crab cake benedict. I also really enjoyed the waffle. I’m fairly sure that I know exactly what I’m going back for in coming weeks. My friend Bridget told me that she “…especially liked the flavor of the chicken pot pie (image above: another dish that was ordered off the menu) and the crust was nice and flaky. I like that little size of pot pie because higher crust:filling ratio.” Will, her fiance, added that the pie would be a great pick for kids. He also felt that one of the only things missing was an additional egg option such as scrambled eggs. “The steak (sirloin medallions) was better than I expected,” he told me. “Though, being breakfast, it would have been nice if they offered an egg along with the steak for a more traditional breakfast plate. The sausage links were great, but I like my bacon a little more crisp.” Spoken like a true New Yorker.
Besides the food, there was one more station that I felt strongly about, and that was the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. It was like nothing that I had ever see… and I really like a good Bloody Mary. At one point my friend Will asked, “Why wouldn’t they just bring the Bloody Mary to you?” I’ll tell you why. Rather, I’ll show you why:
When I first laid my eyes on the Bloody Mary bar I couldn’t believe my eyes. The bar was a colorful smorgasbord of peppers, stuffed olives, red radish, asparagus, chipolini onions, beets, dills, okra, hot sauces, chili sauce, pepperoncini, scallions, carrot spikes, and everything else that might normally accompany the drink. There were also five types of tomato juice to choose from ranging from Clamato to the Bloody Bold house blend. Of course the only danger with being confronted with a spread like the one before us was the temptation to have more than one. In hindsight I’m glad that my friends dragged me away from the bar after having just one. Next time I’m walking from the Metro Rail.
If you think that all of this sounds like someth
ing that you would like to try out, but you’ve got kids to think about, Templeton Landing has you covered. The restaurant has come up with an ingenious solution to accommodate the little rugrats. Believe it or not they have an entire room dedicated to the kids, which means that after the meal they can retire to play, watch TV, or work at a craft station. There is a kids’ menu that they can order from, and a supervising teacher is always on-hand to make sure that everything is under control. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday – the kids get entertained and the adults get to enjoy themselves at a sweet brunch.
You would think that a brunch like this would be expensive. It’s not. If you get there before noon, adults eat for $22.95 each. After noon it’s $24.95. Kids eat for $12.95. The Bloody Mary bar is not included in the price of the brunch. I’ve eaten brunch at a number of restaurants in the city and have to say that I was very pleased with my experience. To me, having one more place to hit on Sundays is great.
2 Templeton Terrace
Buffalo NY 14202