Being the huge pop culture and history nerd that I am, I’ve always had “Eat at Rainbow Room” at the top of my bucket list. Featured in countless movies and television shows and embedded in the city’s history as an iconic landmark, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends, relatives, and complete strangers name this resto as one of their favorite brunch spots in New York. So when the restaurant reached out and invited us to come in and try their famous brunch, I had to pinch myself.
At first sight, the room takes your breath away. It’s very old New York, with a massive crystal chandelier hanging from the middle of the room. The live music adds to the ambience, making you feel as though you’ve been transported back to the old supper club that used to be in this very spot.
And the views–don’t even get me started on the views! Look North from 65 floors up, and you can see all of Central Park, plus most of the Upper West and East Sides. Look South, and you’re face-to-face with the Empire State Building. We could even see Lady Liberty herself off in the distance. You literally feel as though you’re on top of the world.
As we were seated, our incredibly gracious host explained the brunch process to us: for a price of $125 a person, you are able to order as many items as you want from the a la carte menu. You also can select as many items as you’d like from the various buffets. The only items excluded from the price are beverages (and tax and gratuity, of course).
All Rainbow Room guests kick of their brunch with complimentary hot out of the oven caramel monkey bread and house-made cheddar bacon biscuits. The monkey bread was absolutely divine–I could have easily eaten more! The biscuits were reminiscent of a Southern recipe you’d find at a restaurant on King Street in Charleston.
Prior to diving into the buffet, we moseyed over to the fresh juice bar. Fresh-squeezed versions of the classics like OJ and grapefruit were available, but the fresh squeezed juice blends were what caught our eye.
Fields went with the beet, carrot, orange, and pomegranate juice, while I chose the kale, spinach, cucumber, and pear juice. I loved that they offered these healthy options. The buffet looked quite decadent, so it made me feel a bit better to sip on these fresh juices throughout our meal.
After we got our juice fix, we placed our a la carte orders and headed to the entree buffet. We started with the veggies, which included potatoes au gratin, asparagus, creamed spinach, and roasted carrots. Next was the meats, which was a sight to behold.
Dubbed “The Bacon Bar,” it was literally a bacon lover’s dream. From carved to order slab bacon, to Canadian bacon, crispy sliced house-cured bacon, smoked ham, and salmon “bacon,” there were so many different varieties of meat! There was also aged prime rib, which was also carved to order.
We tried a little bit of everything, as one does when brunch is buffet-style. The standouts were the salmon “bacon,” which was pastrami cured and smoked in-house, the roast beef, the roasted carrots, and the potatoes au gratin. They were all perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned.
Suddenly, we realized we hadn’t ordered cocktails. The other Bitches would have been so disappointed in me! I requested the Classic Bloody Mary, with smoked chipotle-infused Tito’s vodka. Fields ordered the Paradise Lost, with Tattinger Brut champagne, passion fruit, and lemon. While the Bloody wasn’t incredibly memorable, we both loved the addition of the passion fruit that made Fields’ cocktail a step up from your ordinary mimosa.
As our cocktails arrived, so did our a la carte entrees. Fields was in the mood for seafood, and went with the lobster Béarnaise Benedict. Warm, poached Montauk lobster was served atop poached eggs and a traditional English muffin.
Served with a Béarnaise sauce and bit of Hackleback caviar, this Benny was a bit heavy handed with the sauce, but not to the point that it tainted the dish. The large portion of lobster was savory and meaty, and again, perfectly cooked. The caviar provided a hint of saltiness, which balanced the dish out nicely.
Being a lover of both mushrooms and eggs, I knew I had to go with the Forrestier omelette. Local exotic mushrooms and a fontina cheese fondue were folded into the omelette, and it was topped with shaved black winter truffles.
This omelette was so exquisite, I was almost tempted not to share with the beau. The variety of mushrooms all had different, distinct flavors, and the foodie in me squealed with joy when I bit into the large pieces of shaved black truffle. While the dish was rich, I ate every single bite.
We ended the meal with a stop at the dessert bar. There was a made-to-order crepe station, a make-your-own yogurt bar, and mini versions of various pies, cakes, doughnuts, and other sweet treats.
Our favorites were the mini lemon meringue pie, the mini blueberry cheesecake, the toasted marshmallows, and the doughnuts. I loved the toasted marshmallows; they were even served warm, thanks to the heat lamps, and were an incredibly inventive addition to the dessert bar.
There were a handful of other sweet and savory items we had hoped to try a la carte, but alas, our appetites got the best of us at the start and we over served ourselves at the buffet. Stuffed to the brim, we made our way back to reality–but not without a few more photo ops against the breathtaking skyline.
The Bitches say: A+. It’s true what they say–Rainbow Room serves one of the best brunches in the city. While it may be best saved for a special occasion, brunching at Rainbow Room is an iconic experience that truly cannot be missed.
Rainbow Room serves brunch on Sundays only from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.