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Sunday brunch - SFO Hyatt (Swiftwater Cafe) or HMB Ritz-Carlton (Navio)?

c
chowmouse Feb 11, 2010 06:25 PM

Hi, we're considering trying Sunday brunch at either SFO Hyatt's Swiftwater Cafe or Half Moon Bay RC's Navio. Can anyone comment on the quality and value-for-money at either place?

Specifically, we want to enjoy a brunch buffet that features nice fresh (and ideally interesting) salads, high-quality breakfast items (muesli, croissants, fruits), handmade desserts, and some dim sum selections. The only such places we've found are those two. If anyone also has other places to suggest, would appreciate your suggestion. Anywhere within an hour of the city.

  1. c
    chowmouse May 31, 2010 09:43 PM

    We ended up going to the top of Mark Hopkins for brunch several months ago, but I forgot to report back (sorry!). The food, view, setting were all good. Sorry the memory's a little hazy for me to recount at this point. But I wanted to share my experiences from the brunch at Hyatt's Swiftwater Cafe a couple weekends ago.

    It was $38 per adult and they validate parking. I believe champagne's included, although we didn't have any. The brunch is laid out in a nice airy setting in the atrium of the hotel. There was an omelette station with an impressive array of ingredients to choose from, including shrimp and sausage links. They had freshly-made buttermilk pancakes and a carvery station, too. They had croissants, which were just okay. The salad section was a little disappointing for me. There weren't any unique tossed inventive salads there. If you like cold cuts, smoked fish and cheese, I guess this place offered a decent variety. They had sushi rolls... not bad, although only 3 different kinds.

    The hot foods section was nothing special. There was bbq'd beef, garlic mashed potato, sea bass with pineapple chutney (not nearly as tasty as it sounds, as the sea bass was a bit bland), steamed veggies, mac'n cheese, pork egg roll. This section included some sampling of dim sum which did the job for me. Dim sum included char siu bao, shrimp shumai, pork dumpling. These certainly don't match the quality of Koi Palace or even Dim Sum King, but they were quite a bit better than I expected.

    Probably the best section was desserts. Very good variety of decent desserts including opera cake, coffee mousse, dark-chocolate mousse, choco-dipped strawberries, rice pudding. Very solid . On the other hand, really disappointed that they didn't have more fruits. They only had melons and the dipped strawberries. No pineapples, berries (other than dipped strawberries).

    I may go back to this place at some point, and I think the price of $38/person was fair. It definitely met some of my needs... it had the dim sum essentials that I could enjoy; also very nice desserts. On the other hand, I was disappointed with their salad selections, lack of fruits, and breakfast offerings (eg, no muesli type stuff).

    4 Replies
    1. re: chowmouse
      rworange May 31, 2010 11:27 PM

      Thanks for reporting back. I always wondered about that buffet

      1. re: chowmouse
        n
        nycfoodie10016 Jun 23, 2010 06:33 PM

        Hi Chowmouse -

        Thank you so much for your detailed review...I've been trying to research the Swiftwater brunch on the internet for hours, and trying to decide between several restaurants. I happen to be staying at the Hyatt Sat night into Sun and was wondering if I should hit up the Sunday buffet before leaving for Half Moon Bay. Based on your review, I've decided to give Swiftwater a shot. The dim sum sounds like it will do it for me too, I think I can eat $40 in shrimp shumai alone. I don't expect it to be the best dim sum or sushi ever, but it's nice to just have the variety and to balance it out with some fresh american fare.
        I'm going to yelp about it after this weekend! Thanks!

        1. re: nycfoodie10016
          rworange Jun 23, 2010 09:03 PM

          Hey ... if you found the tip here ... how about reporting back both here and yelp.

          1. re: nycfoodie10016
            c
            chowmouse Jun 27, 2010 09:17 PM

            That's great. Looking forward to hearing what you thought of the brunch buffet.

        2. c
          chowmouse Feb 12, 2010 11:29 AM

          Thanks a lot everyone for some excellent recs. Based on twocents and skwid's rave reviews of Navio's, that just seems like an incredible experience that I would be up for even at $90. But I did not know about these other buffets (Palace, Mark Hopkins, Clairemont)... all of those places look great, too. We'll probably end up going to one of those instead, if the other peeps in my party balk at Navio's price.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowmouse
            c
            celeryroot Feb 13, 2010 05:29 AM

            The Palace is one of the nicest in the city. Very good and a beautiful setting.

          2. Cindy Feb 12, 2010 10:23 AM

            Am hoping you are not looking for THIS Sunday, since it's Valentine's Day, but the brunch buffet at the Top of the Mark has the items you mentioned. It's not the best dim sum, but in combination with your other requirements, it should work.

            http://www.intercontinentalmarkhopkin...

            1. c
              ceekskat Feb 12, 2010 09:25 AM

              I have seen Sheraton Palace recommended here; may be a good compromise between the Hyatt & Navio.

              http://www.sfpalace.com/assets/u/Sund...

              1. m
                ML8000 Feb 12, 2010 09:09 AM

                If you're talking this weekend, I think avoiding HMB is a pretty good idea. Mavericks is running and it's going to be a zoo.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ML8000
                  s
                  skwid Feb 12, 2010 10:07 AM

                  I would not expect the Rtiz to be a zoo. Perhaps some of the streets around HMB will be a zoo but the Ritz should be fine.

                  That said we went to the Sunday Easter brunch at the Ritz Carlton HMB and it was awesome (expensive, but awesome). I'm not sure if they step it up for Easter but if that is the normal brunch I'd have no problem recommending the Ritz (IIRC it was $120/person, but they had self serve caviar among other things).

                  1. re: skwid
                    m
                    ML8000 Feb 12, 2010 10:17 AM

                    Traffic will be a hassle.

                2. wolfe Feb 12, 2010 06:25 AM

                  How does the Meritage menu look?
                  http://www.meritageclaremont.com/PDF/...

                  1. twocents Feb 11, 2010 11:59 PM

                    Within the parameters of a buffet, Ritz Carlton's are typically excellent to awesome. It's been four+ years since I've been to the HMB one, but it was better than excellent for that kind of thing. I don't remember dim sum, however. I'd point out too that the HMB setting is pretty spectacular. You mention "better" Vegas buffets, and RC, in my experience, surpasses all of them.

                    I like Hyatts in general, but would be surprised if the buffet was anything much better than a routine, albeit hopefully good quality hotel buffet. However, it's speculation on my part as I have not been there.

                    1. rworange Feb 11, 2010 10:12 PM

                      None of the brunch buffets in the city interest you?

                      Having never eaten at either, but having read a lot about them and looked at the menus, Navio would have the larger selection, higher quality items ... but at double the price
                      http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HalfMoonBay/Dining/Navio/Menu.htm
                      http://sanfranciscoairport.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/restaurants/index.jsp#5188532

                      I'd guess Swiftwared is a standard decent buffet. Hyatts usually have good buffets.

                      Depending on how fast you drive, on the wrong side of that one hour drive, Brix in Yountville (technically Napa), has one of the better brunch buffets I've had. Here's my report and a few others
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649233
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/661699
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/660350

                      Just over the bridge is Murray Circle. It probably isn't what you are looking for. It has a limited number of items but the baked goods are just so fine ... best croissants I've ever had. The hours are only 7 am to 11 am and is really geared toward hotel guests. There's nothing on the website about it other than hours
                      http://www.murraycircle.com/

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: rworange
                        c
                        chowmouse Feb 11, 2010 10:47 PM

                        Thanks a lot for the links! But to be honest, what we need is a brunch buffet with not only great breakfast stuff, but also with an ethnic twist and has to have some dim sum selection. I know it's kind of an odd mix that I'm seeking, but this is precisely the kind of buffets they have in Hong Kong hotels. We love wholesome breakfast stuff, we love fancy salads, love European style desserts, and love authentic Chinese food (esp dim sum and noodles). Just so happens the buffets in Hong Kong have all of those things. I know there are places like that in the US... some Vegas buffets (like Bellagio's Sunday brunch) fit the bill. In the Bay Area, the only two brunch buffets I've heard that have dim sum are Navio and the Hyatt's.

                        Yeah you would think that Navio would have more selection and better quality since it's $90 (as opposed to $40 at the Hyatt SFO). Probably safe to say Navio is superior, but I was wondering if anyone's been to both and could tell me whether it's so good that it's worth paying twice as much as Hyatt. If the Hyatt is almost as good quality but somewhat less variety (or something to that effect), then we would probably choose the Hyatt brunch instead and not bother dishing out $90 per head.

                        I wish Hyatt showed a detailed Sunday brunch menu online. I wonder how wide a selection of dim sum and salads they offer.

                        1. re: chowmouse
                          rworange Feb 12, 2010 01:14 AM

                          Tell me what dim sum means at a Hong Kong buffet brunch.

                          I am not Asian. I don't eat dim sum much. Actually, a good many buffets serve dim sum. I have yet to find one that is any good ,... and that's coming from a relative dim-sum know -nothing

                          But I'll bet what gets passed off as dim sum in the Bay Area buffets doesn't remotely come close to what you are hoping for ... unless that means at most, if lucky,, six or less items that sit around and are made by a staff where it is clear that this is not their thing.

                          Have you called Swiftwater and asked if they serve dim sum? It is not on the online list unless it is part of "Authentic specialty and local dishes" I usually scan the buffet menus on holidays to find a place to eat and I don't ever remember dim sum being listed there. Sometime Switfwater prints a detailed buffet list for holidays.

                          Both the Garden court and Top of the Mark in the city have dim sum with their buffets.
                          http://www.sfpalace.com/assets/u/SundayBrunchMenunew.pdf
                          http://www.intercontinentalmarkhopkin...

                          If you look at the Garden Court buffet which has more items (7) than any I've seen, that is pretty much what they all served ... Spring Rolls, Siu Mai, Dumplings, Char Siu Ribs,Pot Stickers, Pork Buns and Peking Duck

                          The Peking Duck is unique to the Garden Court in this category. I haven't seen that elsewhere.

                          You might be better seeing if there are any Asian buffets that have breakfast foods and croissants. I can only think low-scale in that case like Empire Buffets where the food is passible at best. Le's just say we are talking $10 buffet.

                          Anzu has an Asian twist, but it is Japanese and no dim sum.

                          1. re: rworange
                            rworange Feb 12, 2010 02:04 AM

                            I was wrong. There is dim sum at Swiftwater. Since I find dim sum so forgettable and avoidable at Bay Area buffets, I just sort of passed over it and didn't remember

                            I knew I had squirled away the holiday buffet menus at Swiftwater. Here's Thanksgiving and Christmas. My experience in general is that for all buffets the holidays are not wildly different from what is regularily served. There are only seasonal touches such as pumpkin pie or yule logs. Anyway this should give you a better feeling for the Swiftwater buffet
                            http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hotels/sfobu/Thanksgiving_Buffet2009.pdf
                            http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hot...

                            In both cases ... even on a holiday ... the dim sum was limited to "Bamboo Baskets Brimming with Pot Stickers, Shu Mai, and Pork Buns Soy and Sweet Chili Dipping Sauces"

                            I've been inquiring on the boards for years about Switfwater with little resonse. Even Yelp only has three reviews on it ... though they are all positive ... which I would expect with a Hyatt buffet

                            Looking at the buffet brunch at Meritage in the Clairmont in Oakland, they actually have the most promising dim sum offerings "Dim Sum Action Station with Assorted Dipping Sauces"

                            Woo hoo ... action station ... hope the action is more than the usuals

                            1. re: rworange
                              c
                              chowmouse Feb 12, 2010 11:14 AM

                              Thanks rworange! Those menus sure help! You're right, the dim sum selection seems rather paltry. On the other hand, their salad lineup is amazing!

                        2. re: rworange
                          c
                          chowmouse Feb 11, 2010 10:56 PM

                          Btw, Murray Circle looks really good. Looks like a place worth trying for another occasion. You're right... no breakfast menu. Is that a breakfast buffet?

                          1. re: chowmouse
                            rworange Feb 12, 2010 01:17 AM

                            Yep. Breakfast buffet

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