Thursday, May 17, 2007

Restaurant Review - Gospel Brunch, House of Blues Orlando, Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista, FL

For Mother's Day this year, I wanted to do something a little different. I did want to do brunch, but with a twist. I also didn't want to spend a ton of money, especially on the kids since I knew they wouldn't eat a lot. The brunch prices I checked around town were outrageous and most raised their regular Sunday brunch prices for Mother's Day. Then I remembered the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues at Downtown Disney. I had been wanting to try it for a while so I called to find out the deal for Mother's Day. Happily, the Gospel Brunch is the same price no matter what Sunday you go - $35.48 for adults, $18.24 for kids (3-9), 2 and under free, including tax and gratuity. What is strange is that you are actually buying tickets to the Gospel Brunch, just like you would buy tickets to a concert. So, once you decide you want to go, you buy the tickets through the box office and the tickets are yours, no refunds. I ordered over the phone with my credit card and then went by when I was in the area to pick up the tickets. You can also pick up the tickets when you arrive for brunch.

I chose the 10:30 am show because I thought the 1:00 pm show might be a little late for the boys to eat. We arrived at House of Blues a little after 10:00 am, going directly to wait in the line that was already forming in front of the concert hall (the brunch takes place in the concert hall, to the right of the restaurant entrance). The woman at the box office had suggested getting there early because you have to wait to be seated but the buffet is ready as soon as you get in... and the doors open promptly at 10:30 am, not before. The wait wasn't too bad, I struck up a conversation with a family of tourists from Pittsburgh in front of us which helped pass the time. Also, about 15 minutes before the doors opened, servers came around with trays of Mimosas and Bloody Mary's for $3 a piece. Hubby bought me a Mimosa and the mom from Pittsburgh got a Bloody Mary. It was the strangest Bloody Mary I had ever seen - it had what looked like pizza seasoning around the rim of the cup and then had a celery stalk, slice of cucumber, pepperoni (!), and a cube of cheese (!) floating in it. The Pittsburgh mom said it was really spicy too. The doors finally opened and each group was taken, one by one, to their table.

I had called to get tickets about a month in advance so I was very pleased to find that we had a GREAT table. We were at Table 21 which was right in the middle of the main floor, the second row of tables in front of the stage. Tables appeared to be for either eight or two - our family of four was seated with another party of four - they ended up being two couples from Indiana and were very nice as well. The chairs were a bit uncomfortable, they were wooden folding chairs, and they also made it difficult to move around to get to the buffet. I assume that they have high chairs available as well although I didn't see any at the tables around us. The buffet was divided into cold items such as salads, fruit, and peel-n-eat prawns; hot breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, danishes, and waffles; lunch items such as chicken and rice, fried fish, bowtie pasta alfredo, red beans and rice, and jalapeno corn muffins; a carving station with ham and roast beef; an omelet station; a drink station with ready-made cups of sodas and orange juice and serve-yourself iced tea, coffee, and hot tea; and finally desserts with bread pudding, key lime pie, cheesecake, apple cobbler, and pecan pie. I first took up LB to get his food while Hubby stayed at the table with BB. LB chose eggs, bacon, potatoes, a biscuit and two waffles with syrup. I dropped him back off at the table and got BB - he chose almost the same things except he got sausage as well (the sausage ended up being super spicy - even Hubby couldn't eat it). I asked both boys what they wanted to drink and was surprised when they said they wanted orange juice - they don't normally drink that at home. I picked up two orange juices at the drink station but didn't see any straws so I asked one of the servers for some for the kids. When she heard the juices were for kids, she put plastic lids on them as well which was really nice. Now it was my turn at the buffet. I got some of the bowtie pasta (very good - the sauce was creamy, not too thick), some jalapeno corn muffins (good but a little too mushy), and waited to have an omelet made. There were two chefs making custom omelets and it took about 10 minutes waiting to get my mushroom, bacon, tomato, and cheese omelet (it was great, though). When I got back to the table, Hubby gave me the "what took you so long" look and headed up to get his food. By now it was 11:00 am and a server coming by to collect used plates said the show was scheduled to start at 11:15 am. Hubby returned with prawns (he didn't like the "veins" still in them), roast beef (too dry), and Caesar salad (a winner). I went up to get an iced tea before the show started - I was really surprised they didn't have sweet tea - and to get a sampling of desserts - bread pudding with vanilla sauce (very good), key lime pie (very tart), and pecan pie (yummy and sweet - my favorite of all three).

The show started with a loud roll of the drums that terrified LB so much that he jumped and ran onto my lap. The host of the show asked us all if we were ready "to go to church" and then they started right into "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". There was a choir of four lead and three back-up singers (all female), a drummer, two keyboardists (one was also a singer), and one interpretive dancer. It was very interactive with the singers asking everyone to stand up and clap or sing along and some audience members really got into it - dancing around the room and singing. It was like an old-fashioned revival and I found it to be very entertaining and enjoyable (even though I am not that religious). The boys were clapping along and were dancing in place to the music. The group played for 45 minutes, so the experience as a whole was an hour and a half. On the way out, I asked BB what he thought about the show and he said he thought it was "cool". LB said, "Yeah, I liked it." It was a very nice way to start out my mother's day.


Windy Gavin said...

I would like an itinerary with event happenings coming up soon, possibly May - September 2008. Our Women's Ministry is looking to getaway together as a group and very much like to share in the event happenings at the house of blues gospel brunch in orlando.

Restaurant Mom said...

Windy, you can call the Orlando House of Blues box office at 407.934.BLUE to find out who is going to be at the Gospel Brunch for the particular weekend you are thinking about. If you are a group of 20 or more, you can call their sales department at 407.934.2622.

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