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MANILA -- Sundays are always a time to sleep in after a week at work. Sundays are also a great time to try out new things, such as Marriott Cafe's Sunday Brunch at Newport City Complex in Pasay City.
Marriott Hotel may be a little bit off my regular haunts on a Sunday but the trip was worth it: this is a meal worth skipping breakfast for. The spread is to die for and the meal is so luxurious you'd have a hard time choosing which dish to eat first.
For starters, check out the imported cheeses, fruits and quality cold cuts. I always check this section last in a buffet but this one has a basic selection - brie, cheddar, goat cheese, Edam - plus cuts such as pastrami, salami and panchetta. Right beside this is their pastry section where you can choose which bread would go best to break your fast.
For those who like salads, there's a humongous salad bar that has just about every kind of salad you could imagine.
For the pasta lovers, the pasta station will catch your attention because they have several types of freshly made pasta including beetroot gnocchi, spinach fettuccine and salmon ravioli, as well as different sauces and ingredients.
Lovers of Pinoy dishes will also have something to like with dishes such as lechon kawali, lechon manok and even some good old kaldereta.
There is also a Japanese section where diners can check out different types of sushi and maki; and a Chinese section that had soy chicken, roast duck, Hainanese chicken and different dimsum options.
For the adventurous, there's Thai red curry that has red chilies, cilantro, coriander, cumin garlic, shallots, kaffir lime, leaf, lemongrass and galangal. I tasted a small portion of this and found it rich and mild with the right hint of lemon tang: a few more chilies would have made it atomic but could have spoiled my appetite for the bounty ahead.
Up next, a whole lot of meat including lechon, honey-glazed roast turkey, roast US rib eye and an Australian leg of lamb. I skipped the turkey but found the lamb delicious and the skin slightly crisp. The other diners seemed to agree because that dish got demolished pretty quickly. Ditto for the US ribeye, which was very tender and paired nicely with home-made gravy and peppercorn sauce. The Marriott Cafe area is also linked to Cru Steakhouse where diners can get their steaks cooked to their liking.
One highlight of Marriott's Sunday brunch is the seafood. There's enough seafood here to make Aquaman weep: you can
dine on tiger prawns, crabs, shrimps and the freshest fish in the market. More than that, Marriott upped their game and brought in Boston lobsters and Fine de Claire oysters shipped from France every week. The oysters are much larger than the ones we get locally, and topped with mango salsa or tomato basil salsa, they taste heavenly.
The lobsters, however, were a revelation: smeared with lemon butter sauce or orange beurre blanc on each half was just the ticket. This is the dish that will make you come back for seconds and just completes the experience of eating this delicious meal.
I also couldn't pass up the foie gras. Yes, they have foie gras, which was so soft it just disappears once it hits your mouth. Add either peach or orange jam/compote and this dish is seventh heaven.
No meal would be complete without dessert and Marriott just elevates the dessert experience in spades. For one thing, they have a whole room dedicated to chocolate -- one look and you go: "If I was a six-year-old, I would camp in this room forever."
They have chocolate fondue, chocolate bon bons, white chocolate chip brownies, assorted cakes and other sweet delights. Just being in this room would make your sweet tooth tingle, and everything was delicious. If there's still space left, end the meal with some Nutella hazelnut or white chocolate mocha ice cream.
I also liked that Marriott had a person making balloon animals for the younger guests. Smaller kids will definitely be entertained by the balloon animals while their parents continue to sample the different dishes.
So what's the verdict on Marriott's Bigger and Better Sunday Brunch? Come early, come prepared, pack an appetite and expect to come away satisfied.