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Saybrook Point Resort sets a new bar for brunch

Lovers of brunch, take note of these eight words: Sunday brunch at Saybrook Point Resort and Marina. You will experience new levels of gastro joy in a beautiful setting, where the Connecticut River meets up with Long Island Sound.

Before we discuss the price, know this: Brunch is backed by the kitchen of Fresh Salt, SPRM’s celebrated in-house restaurant, and the breadth of the brunch spread is almost overwhelming. From omelets, waffles, and bagels with ALL the fixings to the prime rib and pasta station, and so much more in between, rest assured you will find something you like. So consider the all-you-can-eat price tag of $55.95 per adult with quality and quantity in mind.

However, I would venture that at that price point, one might expect at least one of the standard brunch cocktails to be included, but no dice. A mimosa will run you $9.95 and a Bloody Mary $14.95. Both were just fine — with the Bloody on the spicier side — but we’ve had better (and worse) elsewhere.

We suggest a systematic approach to brunching at SPRM: try a plate of classically breakfast-y things and then do up a plate of the typical lunch-dinner items (or vice versa). I nearly blew the strategy when I witnessed the table of breakfast pastries on the way to the omelet station. Why not have mini chocolate croissants, assorted scones, and apple cinnamon muffins for breakfast? And yet, a fresh omelet made to order is among my favorite things for breakfast, so I asked the gregarious chef manning three burners to assemble a tomato, red pepper, and cheddar omelet and received it in less than five minutes. (Note: There are several more add-ins available, including bacon, ham, spinach and mushrooms.) I paired with fresh and soft sliced ciabatta, a few slices of the applewood smoked bacon, and garlic and herb roasted potatoes, and landed in breakfast heaven. The omelet, with the veggies sauteed first, was a tender, moist pillow of protein with natural veggie flavors shining through. The potatoes carried a garlic kick and perfectly soft and crisp texture. As for the bacon, I’m fussy about it and discovered exactly what I prefer in a strip: slightly crispy without a ton of fatty hangers on.

I didn’t sample my two companions’ bagel and lox (complete with capers) and Eggs Benedict, but they extended four thumbs up for each. My friend reports that his “side dish” of waffles — smaller, personal-sized confections — were among the best he’s ever tasted. Plus, approximately a dozen toppings including fruits, candies, chocolate, whipped cream and more offered delectable customization options.

We unromantically dubbed one room the "meat room," because beyond the carving station offering prime rib and smoked ham, at least six other meat entrees were available (plus side dishes). This did not include the bountiful charcuterie board with sausages, cheeses, and other dried meats (many that we didn't recognize) — all of which went very well with the equally abundant olive selection, including a red variety that neither of the olive fans at our table had ever come across. (Their ruling: "interesting" and "unique.")

From that room, I selected the baked ham and an unexpected home run in the house meatballs with penne. In the interest of gastronomic safety, I had to limit the portion sizes, but the meatball is among the best I’ve ever sampled and could have happily made a lunch of just that. Tender beef, spices, garlic, and an excellent bright marinara came together with excellent effect, and whoever prepared them was well aware of the less-is-more approach to forming them. It makes a big difference. As for the baked ham, it was tender and flavorful on its own and even better with the at-once spicy and sweet mustard sauce served with it.

My husband chose (and shared) the pork tenderloin with an apple-bourbon-oat glaze, and it was another standout from the meat room. The sweet-tangy glaze elevated the tenderloin wonderfully, and the oat added an interesting layer of texture. It was even better paired with the roasted couscous side dish — cooked to perfection and accented with veggies, what I believe were golden raisins, and subtle spices.

We saved a little more room to try two of the approximately six savory salads on the menu that day. I can’t resist a pasta salad, and the tortellini salad with sweet potatoes done in a light creamy dressing is why. From the subtle herbs to the perfectly prepped pasta and properly soft cubes of sweet potato, there is much to love there. The caprese salad — small fresh mozzarella balls and tomatoes — was very good as well, dressed lightly in olive oil and spices. SPRM somehow sourced good tomatoes out of season, and the cheese balls were as tender as they ought to be (versus the rubber-ball-like iterations one sometimes encounters).

Of course, when there’s a hot pasta station, it behooves a brunch explorer to try that, too. With a choice of penne and orecchiette pasta, a chef stood ready to toss it in a skillet with the diner’s choice of sauces (marinara and alfredo), veggies and savory add-ins, including the fresh garlic, cubed chicken, bacon, tomatoes, summer squash and red pepper flakes we selected. We nibbled a small plate of our creation, and we can report that good things happening at the SPRM pasta station. An impressive detail? After sautéing the add-ins, the chef added the pasta with a dash of vegetable stock to ensure good resulting moisture.

It surprises me to say this, but our consumption did not allow a proper sampling of the many desserts available to us. Among them: mini triple chocolate mousse cups, berry-oat bars, blueberry trifle, lemon-poppyseed cookies, and mini chocolate-covered strawberry cannoli. My brain couldn’t take in the whole tableau of gorgeous treats, but there were at least three or four more options.

When we return for another Sunday brunch at SPRM, we will do our level best to not go with what we already know is delicious in an effort to expand our knowledge of the extensive menu. We are assured we will add much more to our list of must-tries, and next time we will absolutely save room for dessert!

Saybrook Point Resort and Marina

2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook

(860) 395-2000

https://www.saybrook.com

Cuisine: All the brunch classics and then some, including omelets; Eggs Benedict; carving and pasta stations; plus bagels with every topping anyone could ever want including lox, desserts and breakfast pastries (scones, muffins, etc.). Menu subject to change.

Atmosphere: Upscale dining in a luxury hotel restaurant with a view of Long Island Sound and boats bobbing in the nearby marina

Service: Excellent

Hours: This review covers the Sunday brunch, which is offered from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Prices: Not cheap, but it's all you can eat for $55.95 for adults and $30.95 for children ages 5 to 12 (typical brunch cocktails not included in the price). Note: This Sunday's Mother's Day brunch is $79.95 per adult and $44.95 for children ages 5 to 12.

Credit cards: Accepted

Reservations: Accepted and encouraged

Handicapped access: Ample parking and no stairs, but the restaurant and neighboring hallways can get a bit crowded.

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