The hostess greets us in pajamas and high heels. Classy yet comfortable — this is Sunday brunch after all.
Kerry Simon, head chef and partner at Simon at Palms Place in Las Vegas, Nevada, is no slouch at combining the best of both worlds. His Sunday brunch offers a full-spread buffet and hot-from-the-kitchen specials amid a backdrop of sunshine reflecting from the adjacent pool. It’s a happy, care-free Sunday morning. People wander in wearing shorts and sundresses, and the attentive wait staff — clad in t-shirts and pajama pants — are more than happy to pour a cup of freshly brewed coffee and point us toward the towering baskets of muffins and croissants.
The atmosphere may be relaxed in the large, airy restaurant, but this brunch is anything but mediocre. Diners are encouraged to begin their meal with the buffet spread — just a warm-up to the creations from the kitchen — which is manned by three chefs who make customized panini and bagel creations, whip up killer fruit smoothies, cut up fresh fruit as it is requested and make sushi on the go. With more than half a dozen flavors of muffins on display, pastries filled with chocolate and airy croissants on offer, it would be easy to cheat on something while creating food for the buffet, but everything is obviously handmade with flavor in mind. I fell in love with the fresh berry muffins while my husband relished the pecorino and honeycomb on a baguette. As if the overwhelming spread of pastries, fruit and bagels isn’t enough to whet an appetite, overflowing bin of fresh shrimp, tubs of handmade cream cheeses and a spread of candy offer even more Simon flavor.
As easy as it is just to eat off the line, save room for the creations from the kitchen — and don’t forget to ask your server about the chef’s special of the day. This is where the “uncommon brunch” comes full circle. Enjoy Simon French toast, which is brioche crusted with Frosted Flakes — a sweet and crunchy addition to a breakfast classic. A full spread of dishes made from organic eggs, including omelets and a protein scramble, are served in ideal portion sizes, well seasoned and flavored. Southern dishes include BBQ pork baby back ribs and a dish of fried chicken and waffles (though I didn’t sample this dish, it looked surprisingly tasty when a waitress carried a plate past our table), and Simon also offers breakfast and margherita pizzas, a meal in and of itself.
This is all well and good, but I come back to my first point about the dishes served hot from the kitchen: Don’t forget to ask your wait staff about the special of the day. I am satiated after snacking on the buffet offerings and tasting other meals from the hot dish menu, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the chef’s special our waitress describes, and when I dig into the chicken and ham crepe topped with a sunny side-up egg and a cream cheese sauce, I think there is a brief moment where I’ve actually died.
If there is any doubt that Kerry Simon can cook, brunch at Simon will quickly clear the air on that issue. And while the food is superb, perhaps the thing I enjoy most about our Sunday morning brunch is the laid back ambiance and hints that the chef is still a real person. Simon is known for his sweet tooth, and when our “junk food” dessert plate arrives, I laugh at the pile of cookies, caramel corn, brownies, Rice Krispie treats and cotton candy. We try to determine the flavor of the cotton candy and decide that “pink” describes it well, though it is clear that even this carnival favorite is made with thought and is far from the bagged stuff you might buy in front of the ferris wheel.
Brunch at Simon is an all-day event, and to get the most for your dollar, enjoy breakfast, paddle around the pool for awhile and return to the restaurant when you’re ready for more. But if you leave brunch after one healthy Simon-infused sitting, you won’t leave disappointed.
The hostess thanks us and waves from the front of the restaurant, still wearing her PJs, her hair in a messy ponytail. Yep, this is the life on a Sunday morning.
Adults $38 / Kids 12 and under $12 / Bloody Mary and champagne bars extra / Sundays 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Disclaimer: I received this brunch meal free of charge but all opinions are my own.
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