Restaurant Reviews

Sundy Bloody Sundy

Anybody who disses De La Tierra at Sundy House (106 S. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach, 561-272-5678) is likely to find a flaming chafing dish on her lawn some night, along with an ominous warning: Get out of town by sunup.

This Delray Beach showcase is universally adored not just for its gorgeous botanical gardens, organic swimming pool, quaint guest houses, and pristinely restored turn-of-the-century mansion. Critics still routinely heap kudos on a kitchen revamped a couple of years ago by Johnny Vinczencz and a menu incorporating local tropical flora and fauna (some of it culled from those same pools and gardens). Last year, Kevin Graham, formerly of the Windsor Court in New Orleans, took over as executive chef and general manager and put his own stamp on the menu. Dinner, from what I hear, is still all it's cracked up to be.

But what about brunch? More than one local rag has picked Sundy's version as "Best." When Sundy House first opened half a decade ago, I had two memorable Sunday midmorning meals there. We sat in the gazebo and ordered à la carte: fresh fruit salad, a "chef's Benedict," and some supremely spicy bloody marys. These days, Sundy serves brunch from a buffet in the central court, and the prices are as steep as those of the Breakers. You plunk down $50 per person for an all-you-can-eat.

Whether you get good value depends on how much atmosphere means to you. Sundy House is still breathtakingly gorgeous. But if you mind having to bat away hungry flies bent on sampling those tempting offerings at the salad station before you do or if it bothers you that the guy preparing the tortellini à la vodka publicly picks his nose, you might want to turn elsewhere for your plate of sausage and eggs. While I was making the rounds of the stations -- salads, carving, pasta, and seafood (and by 1 p.m., those rounds were looking a little droopy), I watched in fascination as our tortellini man (1) completely ignored a customer who had waited patiently for ten minutes, (2) checked his cell phone, (3) disappeared, (4) took a swipe inside his nostril, (5) and cleaned out his sautée pan with a filthy rag. My patient friend's meal was ruined by his rudeness, and so was my appetite.

I will say that our table service was perfect -- they kept those mimosas coming. And the lovely girl tending to the dessert room was doing her job like a champ. Sure, it's only one visit on a single Sunday. But how many other poor schmucks have dropped a C-note for breakfast only to be served a big, silver tray full of disappointment?

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd