As a native New Yorker transplanted to all points north and south of the Mason/Dixon Line, I always enjoy time spent in the Big Apple and I am equally unashamed to admit that some of her most iconic spots are still my favorite.
Take for instance the Waldorf Astoria New York. Needing little introduction, it has long been the heart and soul of New York's social, cultural and political life, a place truly to see and be seen whether one calls the city home or is a visitor to one of the most famous islands.
Honored as an official New York City Landmark in 1993, recent renovations have reinvigorated the property, bringing it back to its original splendor.
Having escaped into the luxury of this property many times before, I decided to give it the ultimate test and dine during Christmas at what it hails as a Sunday brunch like no other.
Clearly, I am not the only traveler who understands the challenges faced by both guest and property during peak season, and yet the Waldorf staff greeted me with a sense of grace and ease that is rare in many of its competitors. Customer service is important, but clearly if you are going to charge nearly $100/person and do so buffet-style, any venue best have something special to offer far beyond cute sushi rolls and made-to-order omelets.
The Waldorf did not disappoint. Seated next to Cole Porter's piano gifted to the hotel by the musician, I was overwhelmed by an array of unique offerings strategically placed to take me from breakfast to lunch and of course through to a collection of desserts that sent this foodie into sugar toxic nirvana.
• Raw bar with caviar, oysters, shrimp and crabs
• Smoked fish and meat carving stations
• Mimosa or Champagne
• More than 100 gourmet desserts framing a magnificent fondue fountain
One of the most intriguing surprises: The honey butter. While not ground-breaking merely by an appearance on the brunch menu, the fact that the hotel has an in-house staff of bees makes it is somewhat worthy of bragging rights.As recently as this summer sources explained that,
Roughly a quarter of a million bees now make their home atop the hotel, which stands to reap considerable benefit from the continuous supply of locally sourced honey -- an ingredient that will be used throughout its restaurant's menu. The bees were introduced in support of New York City's green initiative, PlaNYC, which aims to plant one million trees over the next decade. Some of the flowering trees will require pollination, which is where the bees come in, flying over a three-mile radius to keep newly planted trees blooming across the city.
Forever a part of New York City's history, the Sunday Brunch at the Waldorf Astoria is a gem in the not-so-rough and proof that like a fine wine, some things only get better with time.
Note: Sunday Brunch is offered at Oscar's Brasserie during the summer and resumes in the splendor of Peacock Alley the first of September.
In the spirit of full disclosure I have no commercial relationship with the Waldorf nor was I paid for this review.