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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant

     In the interest of honoring my magnificent husband on Father's Day, I took a break from my month-long birthday celebration to take John to brunch. There's been a rumor circling around town that this restaurant has a budget-friendly yet lavish Sunday brunch, and this was the perfect opportunity to investigate. I'd been there once before over twenty years ago for a bridal shower, so this was a day of rediscovery.
     The Squadron was understandably packed, but since we had reservations, we only waited five minutes to be seated. Fortunate, because the waiting line was overwhelming. I found the decor whimsical and successful in recreating a wartime European farm, complete with bales of hay, an antique plow, a silo, military trucks, and strategically situated weaponry, seemingly at the ready.
     And that was just outside! Indoors the theme
continued with wartime posters, lighting fixtures in the shape of airplanes, aircraft wings hanging from the ceilings, and stone arches and fireplaces.
   When a buffet brunch begins with unlimited Mimosas, we're starting off on the right foot!
     Now, to say that the variety of dishes available was wide is an understatement. Beef, pork, ham, and chicken each prepared in at least three different ways; crab legs, shrimp, oysters, and my best friend that afternoon, a stunning Valencian Seafood Paella done to perfection. The taste of the sea was potent and satisfying, the texture of the rice was ideally pulpy, not too soppy, not too loose, and it made the perfect home for the usual inhabitants- lobster, mussels, cuttlefish, shrimp, all living together in mouthwatering harmony.

     A garden of different salads covered an entire wall- hearts of palm, pasta, couscous, Chinese chicken, potato, mixed greens, and various others. A mountain of bread pieces of every type imaginable, including some I didn't recognize, rose over a corner table flanked by another table with an extensive selection of cheeses, hard, soft, and spreadable.
     During my reconnaisance walk,
I peeked under each of the roll top chafers standing at attention in perfect formation, and I found more surprises awaiting- lamb stew (Estofado), salmon, Island Rice, stuffed pasta shells, lasagna, fried plantains, corn tamales, and fall-from-the-bone barbecue ribs.
     For breakfast food lovers (who isn't?) a small open kitchen is designated exclusively for the preparation of waffles, omelettes, Eggs Benedict and home fries, all to order.
     Sweets were displayed at several locations within the restaurant. A table dedicated to coffee included breakfast and danish pastries as well as mini-muffins. A shoehorn-shaped table burst generously with cheesecakes, carrot cakes, brownies, blondies, several different chocolate cakes, flan, rice pudding, and at the center, a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, strawberries, and lady fingers ready to be dipped in the velvety flow.
     There are certain repercussions to serving unlimited Mimosas. Patrons can potentially get so comfortable that they feel compelled to take the microphone from the keyboard player and regale the helpless audience with hilariously sloppy renditions of Frank Sinatra and Olga Guillot classics. When John and I were first seated right next to the music, we thought it would inhibit our conversation, but as it turned out, we had front seats to the impromptu portion of the entertainment. Some people have real guts, and I applaud them for it. We got brunch and a show!
     I'm faced with a dilemma- There's a place in Miami Beach that I believe provides the quintessential brunch experience. It's called La Gloutonnerie and I have mentioned it before in passing. My feelings about it haven't changed, but my purse strings and my heart strings are intimately connected, and the 94th Squadron offers a very respectable brunch for a very reasonable price. I suppose you can never have enough good places to brunch.

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