Brunch spread fit for Sunday glutton

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Originally, brunch was meant as a middle meal combining breakfast and lunch meals, but the chefs at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Old Town have a feast big enough to take the place of all three meals on a Sunday, and then some.

There are nearly 40 different food options, covering all ends of the spectrum from seafood to eggs Benedict. No one goes away hungry.

Chef Margaret Fenaoui has heard it before. A lot of people, theyre so full, they wont eat for the whole day, she said.

The spread consists of an entre buffet featuring Orange Rufee in red pepper sauce, chicken cordon bleu, rice pilaf, and a mnage of roasted veggies and roasted potatoes that are carved to look like mushrooms.

In addition, there is a seafood tray with king crab, shrimp and oysters on the half shell; a fruit table; an omelet chef; the meat carving table with turkey and prime rib; a salad bar; and a breakfast buffet with eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs and pancakes. Enough to fill their appetite for the whole day, Fenaoui said.

Fenaoui got her culinary expertise at Baltimore International College and honed her cooking skills in the kitchen at the Embassy Suites in Tysons Corner and the Sheraton in Reston. Restaurant manager Haiat Shiha managed a restaurant in London that catered to the Saudi Royal family, she said. In addition, sous chef Carlos Zelaya flips the omelets with expertise, while Rosita Rivera carves the turkey and prime rib to order.

The buffet is $24.99 per person, which includes mimosa cocktails. Now in its third week, the brunch clientele grows each weekend, said Shiha. Guests from the hotel make up part of the guest list, while the word has gotten out in the surrounding community in the northern section of Old Town.

I started in the entre section, with a slice of mouth-watering prime rib, chicken cordon bleu and some of the catchy mushroom-looking roasted potatoes. For my second round, I stopped by the seafood table and got a couple of steamed shrimp and some hot sauce, as well as a muffin topped with eggs Benedict. After shelling the shrimp, I decided this was too messy so I stuck with the spear-and-eat variety.

To complete the whole feast, I tried to be healthy and head to the fruit table but somehow I never made it. I was sidetracked to the dessert table where I grabbed a few petit fours and chocolate cake with butter cream frosting that went perfect with a cup of French Roast coffee they were serving richer and bolder than the typical hotel lobby blend.

Somehow, I was drawn back to the dessert table for a second round, and this time gravitated to the tiramisu plate. The fluffy desserts were so big, I split one with another customer, and finished my half of the creamy, chocolate-filled tart in nothing flat, promising myself that I would do some kind of biometric exercise later to work it off.

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