The Rittenhouse is one of Philadelphia’s most luxurious, perched in a perfect location overlooking Rittenhouse Square. The Forbes Four Star hotel is renowned for its high level of service; its elegantly appointed rooms; its spa; and its dining options, which include an outpost of Scarpetta, the sophisticated Bar 210, the cozy Library Bar, the elegant Mary Cassatt Tea Room, and the renowned fine dining gem Lacroix. We recently had the opportunity to experience Lacroix’s Sunday Brunch buffet, and the attention to detail and culinary know-how that went into every single one of the more than 50 offerings was truly stunning.
The restaurant, which was recenly named one of America's top hotel restaurants by USA Today and 10best.com, overlooks Rittenhouse Square, and the elegant dining room has a relaxing gray and gold color scheme and well-spaced tables covered in white tablecloths. Buffet stations are set up throughout the restaurant, with a raw bar, canapes, and salads near the entrance, breakfast items in a nook to the left, and hot hors d’oeuvres, entrees, the carving station, charcuterie, and desserts located in – wait for it – the kitchen. That’s right: diners are invited to walk into the kitchen, and desserts are displayed in the cool pastry department.
If you were expecting your usual brunch buffet assortment of overcooked prime rib, flabby eggs Benedicts, limp steam-table waffles, greasy bacon, and rubbery scrambled eggs, Lacroix’s brunch will be a breath of fresh air. This is no ordinary buffet. The expected breakfast dishes are all there, but everything’s kicked up a few notches: scrambled eggs are soft and pillowy, housemade chicken sausage is studded with chunks of apple, bacon is thick-cut and perfectly crisp, and pancakes are delivered to your table on demand.
The surprises don’t end there, of course. Chef Jon Cichon’s team has completely reinvented your standard brunch. The menu is full of surprises (you can check it out in full here), but standouts include foie gras s’mores; branzino crudo with passionfruit, buttermilk, and coriander blossom; Spanish octopus with bok choy, pea leaf, and fried shallot; gochujang fried chicken bao bun with pickled onion aioli; khachapuri with caramelized onion, goat cheese, and quail egg; mini buttermilk biscuits with pork roll, piperade, and comte; Oaxacan shakshuka with black bean, tomatillo, and queso fresco; and grilled Rhode Island squid with sweet corn and red miso spaetzle. At the carving station were Scottish salmon with lavender mustard; a grilled sausage made from diver scallops; porchetta with green tomato kimchi; roasted leg of lamb with gooseberry glaze; and a slow-roasted Szechuan-spiced wagyu brisket with broccoli and ginger relish, a dish inspired by beef and broccoli that I was told took more than a year to perfect. And that's not even including dessert! (Don't miss the sticky buns and chocolate fountain.)
Many of these dishes would be right at home on the menu of a Michelin-starred restaurant, but at Lacroix they’re all just a part of the buffet. Service was spot-on, with servers accommodating special requests, clearing plates, and keeping the Champagne flowing.
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse isn’t serving your typical Sunday brunch, not by a long shot. It’s a great way to celebrate a special occasion, and it’s also a special occasion unto itself!