My Portillo family is known for combining 3 months worth of birthdays and events into one fab celebration and today was no exception. We celebrated my uncles 60th birthday plus Father’s Day at the Ivy Bar for a Sunday brunch… what can I say, we’re multi-taskers! So needless to say the company and conversation was delightful all morning but you’re probably wondering how the food was…… well here it is:
The sushi station wasn’t huge and the rolls were fine but if you’re a sushi connoisseur you’ll probably be disappointed. Everything I ate off the sushi platter was at least fresh and not fishy tasting.
Crispy bacon definitely makes me happy, especially at a buffet where it tends to be soggy and greasy, but Ivy Bar delivered the goods on this one. The Eggs Benedict was also cooked nicely, with a generous piece of peameal bacon and a perfectly poached egg. It wasn’t anything unique or special, but sometimes simple and familiar are good too. I had a small bite of the breakfast sausage, since most were raving about it at the table, and it was meaty and not too greasy with good flavor…. generally though I’m not a fan of sausage (hey…get your mind outta the gutter please) Ok so sadly this was all that looked appealing to me for the hot food stuff. I didn’t partake in the Carving Station that had prime rib (which looked a lil dry and overcooked), Yorkshire pudding, perogies and meatloaf. Nor did I sample the scrambled eggs, potato hash or quiche….. clearly they didn’t tickle my fancy on this particular morning. If I’m going by appearance then I’d say they all looked like standard fare.
I enjoyed my plate of seafood but wasn’t rushing to go back and fill up again. The crab legs and cold peeled shrimp were meaty, tasted fresh and easy to eat. A tangy seafood sauce was offered for dipping my shrimp into but this is to be expected. The oysters were good, but again, I wasn’t running back to get more.
The freshly made waffles were delicious and I probably could’ve ate a few servings of these with the fresh berry medley and whipped cream atop. The pure maple is a must and I’m glad they didn’t cheap out and put Aunt Jemima on the table. Maybe the most creative dish there was the chocolate chip banana bread French toast which was actually really good as well. The selection of squares and bars was your typical brownie, Nanaimo bar, carrot cake and butter tart. They could’ve easily been from a frozen tray you get from Costco.
Bread, Cheese & Deli meat
Lots of variety to choose from here like bagels, toast & muffins but they were definitely not house made and again could’ve easily come from a big club pack from Costco. The big wedges of cheese looked nice as did the deli meats but again they didn’t call my name. There was yogurt, cereal, granola and all the condiments you could want like cream cheese, peanut butter and jams but I feel like this type of food is more suited to a continental breakfast spread at a hotel lobby, not a fancy shmancy Sunday brunch.
Unlimited coffee and tea are included in the price, while mimosa’s and Caesar’s were $5. Now lets talk about the price of the brunch… On holidays its $35, as opposed to a regular Sunday which is $25. At the end of the meal I asked the hostess what the difference was in terms of the food spread between the two prices and she really didn’t have an answer except, “I think there’s a few more things”? Now I haven’t been here on a non-holiday Sunday to be able to compare, but by the looks of the on-line menu, the food is exactly the same. So if you’re gonna visit here don’t do it on a holiday cuz you definitely won’t get your monies worth. $90 for the two of us (including tax n tip) was more than a little steep for such an average brunch.
Definitely the highlight of Ivy Bar is its beautiful décor. A massive glittering chandelier sets the tone, while modern chairs and industrial touches like a polished concrete floor and exposed duct work, give this place a cool loft meets lounge vibe. The outdoor patio is really nice and many people were out there enjoying their brunch in the sunshine. The two man band that played throughout our meal was excellent too and they filled the room with lovely music all morning.
If you like dishes and flavours that are familiar then this simple brunch buffet is your place . For me it was just mediocre and the hefty price tag, especially the extra $10 holiday fee, was not worth it. The space is beautiful and enjoying a meal on the patio is definitely worth checking out... maybe a weekday lunch instead? Splurge a few bucks more and treat yourself to the amazing Sunday brunch at Spencer's at the Waterfront instead. Regardless of not being wowed, I walked away with a full stomach and most importantly I enjoyed some quality fam jam time with the Portillo clan.