Hotel. Brunch. Buffet. Just hearing those words gets me excited. Everyone loves a hotel brunch buffet. In fact, I love them so much, I created the definitive guide for maximizing your hotel brunch buffet. <—- click over there to read it
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being invited to explore the Ojai Valley Inn in tranquil Ojai, CA. It’s just over an hour’s drive from LA and when you get there, you feel like you’re in another universe. Lush, sprawling lawns are set against the background of the expansive mountains in the distance. The delicate ping of golf balls and the hum of golf carts can be heard as you walk the well-manicured pathways. This is an oasis where the California drought is clearly an afterthought, but you don’t come here to discuss water management issues. You’re here to golf, eat, and relax.
I arrived on Sunday morning just in time to catch the last hour of the hotel’s Bluegrass Brunch. Set on the patio of the resort’s restaurant The Oak, you get to look out over the verdant golf course as a two-piece bluegrass combo serenades you with a guitar and a fiddle. Did I mention it was relaxing?
Now, some hotel brunch buffets like Harbourside at the InterContinental Hong Kong are revered for the sheer mass of options they give you. Others are small functional affairs, like the Waikoloa Beach Marriott in Hawaii, where the object is to feed you perfectly decent food and get you on your way. The Bluegrass Brunch at the Ojai Valley Inn was a hybrid of the two. This wasn’t a huge Sunday brunch, but it wasn’t a plain jane buffet either. To satisfy the guests of the resort, I think it’s a nice middle ground.
Take a little photo tour:
Plenty to choose from, but not enough to overwhelm. I started with a traditional breakfast plate:
The omelet was great, although both the ceiling and floor for omelets are fairly close together in my book, so it’s hard to really wow or disappoint on the omelet front. The potatoes, unfortunately, were cold but the bacon and sausage were fantastic. The fire-roasted salsa was a nice touch, too.
For my second trip, I went full seafood:
Yes, that is a cup of clam chowder on my plate. Thanks for asking. The shrimp and crab claws were fresh and much larger than I would have expected for a buffet this size. The oysters weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but this isn’t the Washington coast, so I’ll take what I can get. As a side note, the carving station will not only cut you a slice of ham or prime rib, they’ll also cook up some scallops with risotto.
Sadly, this was a dish I wish I had skipped. The risotto was dense and gummy while the scallops never got the right kind of sear. It’s ambitious to serve a made-to-order dish like this at a brunch buffet, but in this case, that ambition didn’t lead to wonderful results.
Desserts, too, didn’t impress but it didn’t matter because I had access to A CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. The chocolate chip cookies covered in additional chocolate were amazing. This was my favorite part of the meal, hands down.
The brunch sets you back $49/person with unlimited champagne, so it’s a great deal if you come early and take advantage of the high-value items like the raw bar while sipping down bottles of bubbly. Overall, I’d recommend the brunch to anyone looking for a relaxing morning without expecting too much from the food.
Ojai Valley Inn