Lush, luxurious brunch in Nashua
New Hampshire Union Leader | October 03. 2012 2:06PM
On Sundays, the hotel's Speaker's Corner restaurant offers a delectable morning/lunch brunch that is worth a couple of hours to relax, dine and plan a fun-filled fall day.
Our Gourmet: The Crowne Plaza's front entrance, with fully-accessible ramps for the handicapped, directs guests immediately to Speaker's, just off the main lobby of this 230-room hotel. The dark wood and gleaming silver and cloth table settlings beckon diners to comfort and style.
Sharply-dressed servers and buffet attendants bustle about efficiently. The breakfast spread is spaciously laid out, with a central cook-to-order omelet station, and free newspapers and hotel/area attraction material is available for perusing. A full bar is adjacent to the main dining room, ensuring satisfaction for those who prefer a Bloody Mary with brunch. Speaker's Corner is altogether welcoming. 18/20
The Menu: 18/20
OG: Good parties encourage guests to go early and stay late, and if you are hungry enough to justify a couple of hours at a buffet we encourage the same at this brunch spot. Start off with a glass of champagne, perhaps mixed with OJ, and wander the buffet before picking up a plate. There are mountains of deliciousness at each station, and going slowly is key. (Imagine what a young teenage boy missed by piling a pound of bacon on his plate to start off!) Starters include muffins, cupcakes, Danish and other pastries, bagels (toast your own), cream cheese, lox, juice, coffee, ice water or anything from the full-service bar. While serving yourself, always keep your next trip to the buffet in mind. 9/10
The Dining Companion: There are three meals available at the buffet on Sundays, and with some strategy and restraint, one can dabble in all three. Or, one can concentrate on one meal and simply load up. We chose to dabble, and tried nearly everything that was available, in small servings. Standard breakfast fare after the appetizers include scrambled eggs, plump country sausage and fried bacon, French toast with strawberries or maple syrup as topping, or custom-made omelettes, accompanied by or including station-sliced ham or roast beef. Heartier eaters could choose tilapia wrapped around risotto and sliced crabmeat, with a savory seafood sauce; sliced roasted pork with gravy and mushrooms; or a quiche-type egg dish, heavy on the eggs and light on the spinach and vegetables. Fresh green salad with all the typical offerings rounds out the meal offerings. Dozens of tastes and combinations, far too many for anyone but the most careful planner. 9/10
The Food: 34/40
OG: TDC and I made the best of a leisurely Sunday morning, starting with chart-topping pastries, coffee, toasted bagels with cream cheese and lox, fresh fruit, orange juice and a dash of champagne. Lox can be dry and salty, an add-on outside New York to those who savor the bagel-topping. Speaker's offers delicately twisted slices of the smoked salmon wrapped around a slight dollop of cream cheese, atop a slice of cucumber — a cold and moist accompaniment to the thick bagel and cream cheese. Two or three halves of those could easily suffice for a full breakfast, but I limited myself to one. Plenty more to come.
The pastries include apple Danishes, and other small tasties with various toppings, and one over-the-top cinnamon roll with icing. The sugary icing is not to be overlooked. It cannot be overlooked, because it is not a dollop of icing, not a smear of icing, but a full, thick, wide swath of delicious white, sweet goodness that affords plenty in every bite.
Next up was eggs and meat, and a small plate of hot scrambled eggs with sausage and bacon with a half slice of French toast (with syrup) kicked the breakfast into fourth gear. Unusual to most buffets, all of the breakfast meat (I even had a small slice of sliced ham) was hot, moist and not overcooked, and served in a horseshoe-shaped buffet location that afforded steady movement of all patrons. Well-planned, well-served, super-prepared food. 18/20
TDC: My mushroom, cheese, spinach and onion omelette was efficiently prepared while I watched, and I couldn't resist a small slice of medium-rare roast beef on the side. There is nothing like an omelette that takes just seconds from the pan to the dish to the table, and I savored most of it. I saved room, however, for more because, after all, this is a buffet.
The tilapia seafood concoction was a definite winner, too. Delicate baked tilapia wrapped around risotto with a moist and creamy seafood sauce, with slices of crab inside, smothered in more of the sauce, the amount to depend on the diner and the serving spoon. Next to the tilapia was a huge round bowl of fresh shrimp and cocktail sauce. Delicious!
The roasted pork was nearly top-notch, too, with a moist center and slathered with mushrooms and gravy, but served with a slotted spoon which made gravy catching impossible.
The quiche was sub-par. Nearly an inch thick, it was way overloaded with eggs, and the spinach and veggies on top were more embedded ingredients than simply cooked on top.
But with so many delectable offerings, and plans for return trips from table to buffet, our attention was easily deflected to the plates that won all of our attention. 16/20
All the Rest: 18/20
OG: Ah, fourths: My sweet tooth defeated nutritional considerations by a wide margin on my fourth trip. A nicely built Frenchtoast/ pastry plate, with gobs of maple syrup, and slices of fresh strawberries and fresh pineapple on the side, was equivalent to a banana split after a milkshake at Blake's. Take a large, thick slice of hot French toast, place it next to a Crowne Plaza Gourmet Cinammon pastry, and slather all of it with maple syrup. Then, cut it all up with your knife and fork, and eat it with a spoon. Do not lick the plate, there is more where that came from. And voila! Breakfast is done, you won't be hungry until dinner, and it's only 11:15 in the morning. 9/10
TDC: At $19.95, Speaker's Corner's buffet brunch is not inexpensive, but there is solid value in the varied gourmet offerings and the plush atmosphere of a very nice hotel restaurant. Add to that expert service and being surrounded by a wealth of hotel amenities, visitors and locals can relish the experience and allow themselves to be pampered in a classy, upscale Crowne Plaza environment. 9/10