I have heard a lot about Mezza Luna, especially about their generous brunch. So when I saw their name crop up as a Living Social deal, I snapped it up and made plans to meet some friends for brunch.
We arrived right at 11, just as they opened, and settled in at our table, chatting with our friends and putting in our drink orders. The unsweet tea I ordered was delicious, but it was the water--clear, pure, and fresh--that blew me away. After a bit of talk, we headed over the buffet where I was happily surprised with both the variety and types of dishes. Salads, fresh fruit, granola, Eggs Benedict, biscuits, gravy, macaroni and cheese, shrimp, grits, a butternut squash soup and more were arranged on two tables. A towering red velvet layer cake and cheesecake sat on a third table.
The macaroni and cheese was delicious--creamy, thick, and made with cheese of evident quality. This dish peaked my interest in their lunch and dinner menu since I could happily have eaten a plateful.
The sausage and fennel gravy was another favorite with perfect texture and a peppery bite. Unfortunately, the matching biscuit was doughy instead of flaky and, while not bad, it wasn't particularly good either.
The bacon was thick and flavorful but slightly tough and solidly at room temperature. This was the point in my meal when I became acutely aware of the fact that nothing was hot. Presumably to avoid overcooking and drying out the dishes, none of the serving plates were heated. This lead to any "hot" food being luke-warm to room temperature at best. This was more of a problem for some dishes than others, but seemed to point to a clear flaw in the "buffet" presentation for food of this persuasion.
The fresh fruit, however, was at just the right "cool-but-not-cold" temperature. The honeydew was wonderfully ripe and flavorful, the cantaloupe bright and fresh, and the pineapple sweet and tangy. Sadly, both the strawberries and blueberries were clearly out of season, the blueberries mushy and wrinkled and the strawberries bitter.
The Eggs Benedict were beautifully presented and a striking addition to the buffet. Unfortunately, they too were room temperature and the whole dish was just...off. The English muffin was so tough that I could not easily cut it with the butter-knife at my place setting. The ham was also tough while the hollandaise sauce tasted overwhelmingly of mustard. The egg was nicely poached but cold egg yolks just aren't appealing.
While we were eating, one of our friends noted an odd oil separation in his coffee--the fresh cream he had been supplied with had separated. Our server promptly brought him new servings of both coffee and cream along with an apology. His polite and ready response was typical of the service we received.
After some deliberation, we headed back to the dessert table, where I picked up a piece of cheesecake.
The cheesecake itself was delightfully sweet, tangy, and pillowy. I am not a fan of graham cracker crusts--the crumbly texture turns me off--but as graham cracker crusts go, this was a solid one. Large, loose crumbs indicated a handmade crust and the depth of flavor complimented the cheesecake nicely. The fruit puree was cold, as though it had been frozen, and tasted to be a combination of berries. It clearly served only aesthetic purposes however, as the flavor was totally lost against the richness of the cheesecake.
My hubby opted for the layered red velvet cake.
He found it to be a fairly standard light cake but enjoyed the frosting. One of our friends also had a slice and she greatly enjoyed her piece. Having sampled the cheesecake as well, she preferred the red velvet cake. It may be a matter of texture more than anything--both the hubby and I lean towards denser desserts.
I was impressed with the ambitious dishes, the delicious flavor combinations, and the gracious service. However, I was disappointed that the buffet concept seemed ill-suited to the dishes and in the quality of the berries. Apparently, Mezza Luna sources much of its produce locally which made the berries an even greater disappointment to me since part of sourcing local produce should be cooking with what's in season. I would be willing to try their lunch or dinner menu on the premise that moving away from the buffet format would allow the food to really shine.
Total for the meal: $41.43 (Before tip, includes two buffets and two beverages)
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