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An Unprecedented Brunch Experience

Rein in the Garden City Hotel.

I am thrilled to bring you Part II of Garden City Patch's series on Rein, a world class restaurant in The Garden City Hotel. Our three-part series highlights Rein's celebrated chef, Steven De Bruyn, and his talented culinary team. I invited my high school prom date (aka the husband of 24 years).

As we arrived on Sunday for brunch, I was greeted warmly by my boy Michael who served me lunch a few weeks back (Part I). The beverage manager, the maître d', the head waiter and lots of important people at Rein came by our table to say hello. They were warm and gracious; it's the warmth of the staff that creates a very cozy atmosphere despite being in the midst of class, elegance and opulence.   

Sunday brunch at Rein is a very unique experience. Ranked in the top 10 hotel brunches in America by GAYOT.com and the only one on their list for New York proved to be a title well-earned. Visualize an epic feast – the kind shown in period films where the royal family is surrounded by banquet tables full of every food imaginable. This is brunch at Rein.

Giant baskets of all kinds of breads made on premises greet you – buttery croissants, crusty peasant bread, bagels, muffins and cheese Danish. The table is enormous and overflowing. 

Large chafing dishes follow. The quiche Lorraine was simply the best I've had.  Slabs of smoked bacon were accompanied by hunks of caramelized onions. The top was perfectly browned and the middle moist and light. The pastry was buttery and made just hours before. I know quiche is very 80s but I think it's timeless and has a deserved spot at every brunch table.

There was a nice West Indian Jerk Chicken breast with grilled pineapple salsa, which sat atop a brown glaze. Served with mashed potatoes, the combination of flavors and textures were a home run. There were tender chunks of beef skewered and served with lemon preserve couscous in a rich demi-glaze. Lemon preserves, lemon rind or juice freshens up couscous, rice and pasta dishes. It provides a refreshing summer flavor and De Bruyn is all about seasonal foods.

A great surprise was a pesto-crusted tilapia with roasted diced eggplant and roasted tomatoes. The pesto did not overwhelm this white fish that begs for flavor. I wouldn't have thought to pair the two but it will now become part of my summer fish repertoire. Roasted tomatoes provide another nice summer flavor.  Great on sandwiches, in rice or pasta dishes, the roasting brings out the sweetness and lends a smoky flavor.

The carving station had prime rib – rare and medium. Of the highest quality, it was served with a simple rich brown gravy. There was a nice hot rigatoni dish and steamed shrimp dumplings. The omelet station was buzzing and had its usual accoutrements – cheese, vegetables, fresh wild mushrooms, bacon and cubed ham. 

The waffles were amazing. With Chef De Bruyn emanating from Belgium, they and their fruit and chocolate toppings beckoned. You haven't had a waffle until you've had a freshly made one.

There was a fabulous sushi and sashimi bar. The sushi chef was cranking out beautiful pieces as patrons watched. The husband went crazy for this. Although a devout foodie who spent time in culinary school, the sushi gene somehow skipped over me.

There was a giant table full of beautifully arranged seasonal fruit – ripened peaches, Bing cherries, watermelon and berries. There was an entire section full of seafood in many forms. The halved lobsters were popular. Giant lobster claws surrounded them as well as crab claws and boiled shrimp. Side bowls of lemon, clarified butter and cocktail sauce awaited.

The fish was of the highest quality and no doubt bought down on Fulton at dawn. The lobster meat was so very sweet. There was a wonderful pasta salad with shrimp, lobster and crab with red peppers in a Cajan Remoulade (akin to a mayonnaise). There were platters of freshly grilled vegetables and plates of cheeses from around the globe as well as Italian cured meats like Sopressata.

The dessert station stands alone. The presentation was stunning. There was a beautiful squares of chocolate mouse cake, shot glasses of Italian panna cotta (akin to pudding), pies, cookies and a Hazelnut cake, moistened with liquor in the middle and painted with dark chocolate that gave it a fabulous sheen. There was New York cheesecake and carrot cake. It was dessert heaven. 

Beverages included freshly squeezed juices. The husband dug into his tomato juice and I adored my fresh orange juice. Champagne, Mimosas and Bloody Mary's were available in addition to coffees and teas.

I cannot say enough about the service at Rein. Inez was our waiter for the day and again, everything was seamless. Without notice, napkins were freshened, silverware replaced, coffee and water refilled. The staff-to-customer ratio was extremely high for brunch.

Brunch at Rein must not be missed. To be able to hit this many foods on the mark, to provide so many flavors and textures and have it all come together like a fabulous symphony is pure talent. This is what makes the brunch experience at Rein unprecedented.

To be able to hit this many foods on the mark, to provide so many flavors and textures and have it all come together like a fabulous symphony is pure talent. This is what makes the brunch experience at Rein unprecedented.

Brunch at Rein is $64 per adult without tax and gratuity, half price for children under 12 and free for children 3 and under and is offered between 12-5 p.m. For reservations, call 516-877-9385.

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