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South Jersey Brunch Bonanza

South Jersey Brunch Bonanza
Many restaurants here in southern New Jersey offer Sunday brunch. Some are quite extravagant, with champagne, opulent food and formal service, and others more casual- yet they all have one particular element in common. Sunday brunch is a splendid way to celebrate a special occasion or to make an ordinary day special. Here are a few suggestions for Sunday brunch, starting with one that is quite elaborate and luxurious…

At The Mansion, a high-end catering facility, executive chef Jeffrey Burke and pastry chef Theresa Kaitz, both Culinary Institute of America graduates, oversee an award-winning weekly feast that includes more than 150 items. The menu features house-made pastries, as well as smoked fish, eggs benedict, French toast with bananas foster syrup, and blintzes. Personalized omelets come from a chef-manned egg station. At yet another station, crisp Belgian waffles are served hot from the iron. The menu includes hand-carved meat, perhaps herb-crusted prime rib or stuffed veal tenderloin. Entrees change weekly and have included cranberry-stuffed chicken and sun-dried tomato ravioli in pink vodka-cream sauce. There is always an assortment of salads and side dishes, an array of sushi (presented with lacquered chopsticks), and to finish, a Viennese table loaded with house-made desserts. Champagne and mimosas are included with the price of the brunch, as are coffee, tea, and milk. Bloody Marys and other cocktails are available at the bar for an extra charge.
Designed in the style of a grand European manor house, The Mansion boasts beautifully manicured gardens, cascading waterfalls, and a swan-filled pond. Guests enjoy the sweeping scenery, as well as white-gloved service and a jazz performance by Louis Dattoli, while seated in the graceful, multi-windowed Garden Room. The hours are 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The price is $29.95 for adults and $15 for children ten years of age and under. The price is higher on holidays. Reservations are required. Complimentary valet parking is provided. Evesham and Kresson Roads, Plaza 3000, Main Street Complex, Voorhees, (856) 751-1717.

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Another area brunch that includes the stunning view as part of the attraction is the Grill and Pub at the Pine Hill Golf Club. Located in what restaurant director Kate Maxwell claims is the highest spot in southern New Jersey, the club has an outstanding view of the Philadelphia skyline and the facility’s 365-acre golf course. During the warmer months of the year, brunch-goers enjoy these vistas while dining on a screened-in wraparound porch. The buffet here features a number of special aspects, one of which is a colorful, easy access section just for little ones. It includes foods kids crave, such as chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, cereal, applesauce, and—no surprise—lots of candy. Breakfast includes breads, pastries, smoked salmon, pancakes and fresh waffles with whipped cream, chocolate chips, berries, and syrups. One interesting nuance is the staff will deliver your egg station order directly to your table. The carved meat item varies, and can include ham, beef, lamb or duck.
There is a tremendous focus on cold salads, with at least 25 choices. Entrees also rotate and some highlights are stuffed shells, chicken marsala, lamb stew and grilled salmon. Desserts include cheesecake, tiramisu, miniature pastries, eclairs, doughnuts, and warm bread pudding with crème anglaise. Coffee or tea is included. Freshly squeezed orange juice is extra, but comes in large glasses, not the tiny ones often served in restaurants.
Half-price mimosas and bloody Marys are available at the bar. There’s even an array of condiments provided (with more than a dozen different hot sauces) for guests to garnish their bloodies!
The hours are 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The cost is $19.95 for adults and $6.95 for children between two and ten. Prices go up on holidays, but the food selection dramatically expands. 500 West Branch Avenue, Pine Hill, (856) 435-3100. Reservations are suggested.

Great service is on the menu at the Tabernacle Inn, along with an ample selection of food. Because of it, the brunch has developed a loyal clientele during its fourteen years in existence, according to owner Mark Metzger, who said his customers often tell him that the great staff keeps them coming back. The buffet is set in the airy but cozy main dining room, which overlooks the garden with its brook and waterfall. It offers breakfast meats and breads, eggs benedict, blueberry pancakes, French toast with warm syrup and waffles to order. Lunch elements include roast beef and pork loin carved to order, pasta dishes, terrines, smoked salmon, seafood crepes, and grilled vegetables. There is always a hearty dessert selection, with chocolate mousse, cheesecake, cannoli, and brownies just a few examples. Coffees, tea, juice, and champagne is included. The hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $18.95, $8.95 for children from three to twelve years of age, and free for children under three. 1488 Route 206, Tabernacle, (609) 268-1060. Reservations are recommended.

The Library IV is the site of another popular, long-running brunch that is surprisingly affordable. Set up throughout the casual restaurant, the buffet features eggs, breakfast meats, hash browns, pastries, fresh fruits, cereals, stuffed shells, creamed chipped beef, and sausage and peppers, along with other dishes. The house brunch specialty, filet mignon beef stew topped with puff pastry, is a customer favorite, according to owner Brian O’Keeney. O’Keeney said that customers are always pleasantly surprised to find that after perusing the nicely-sized buffet, they can order an entrée, either eggs benedict, an omelet, French toast, waffles or roast beef, from the kitchen. The dessert presentation includes a selection of miniature pastries such as eclairs, cream puffs, and napoleons. The hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The price is $12.95, $4.95 for children under ten. Prices do not increase on holidays. 1030 North Black Horse Pike, Williamstown. (856) 728-8064.

For those who don’t prefer the "do-it-yourself" aspect of a buffet, here are two suggestions for a la carte brunches. The first is La Campagne, an elegant, country French-style eatery housed in a magnificently restored 175-year-old farmhouse. Three courses, appetizer, entrée and dessert, are included with prices that vary between selections. A complimentary basket of house-made breads includes country French loaf, foccaccia, sweet bread, and house-made pecan sticky buns. Some entree choices include the towering hotcake napoleon, nearly eight inches tall, strawberry-banana filled French toast and crisp seared duck breast with sour cherry sauce. Desserts change weekly, and have included baked apples, apple crisp and strawberry shortcake. Juice, coffee and tea are included. The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is BYOB. 312 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill. The telephone number is (856) 429-7647. Reservations are recommended.

Braddock’s Tavern, a lovely restored colonial-era hotel turned upscale restaurant, offers three courses with the price of an entrée, which is either $17.95 or $20.95 depending on the selection. Some of the dishes are eggs benedict, Maryland crab cake, beef Wellington, grilled pork tenderloin, and seafood strudel. A children’s menu is available with entrees priced at $9.95. Freshly squeezed orange juice accompanies brunch. Other beverages are additional, however. The hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 39 South Main Street, Medford. (609) 654-1604. Reservations are recommended.

Lisa Provence is employed by Ed Hitzel Enterprises, who provided this report.

Published in South Jersey Magazine, April 2004.
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Author: Lisa Provence

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