We’re only heading back to 2018 today, where I expound upon my love of brunching, specifically buffet brunches. These took a bit of a hit during the pandemic but they’ve re-emerged (thankfully) in a similar guise. One of my favourite brunch spots, The iconic Carlton Hotel in Cannes, is getting a complete overhaul and won’t re-open until next year. Thankfully, their beach club which has just re-opened for the season does buffet brunches from time to time, as does The Hermitage in Monte Carlo.
My beloved and I enjoy going out for Sunday brunch, particularly during the winter months. We’d spotted that the weather this past week-end was going to be wet and chilly, so had decided to go out for brunch in nearby Cannes. We’ve tried brunch at the Marriott and Martinez, but our favourite is the Carlton. It’s one of those over the top, fin de siècle, overblown wedding-type buildings and quite iconic on the Croisette.
In the summer, we like to dally in the Carlton’s terrace gardens over a pot of tea or a cocktail but in the hotel’s low season we can be found, from time to time, enjoying Sunday brunch or its Friday night lobster and champagne menu.
Of course, while my beloved can and will eat anything and everything on offer, I have to be more cautious. There’s lots that I can’t eat, but equally there’s plenty that I can. Of course, tackling any buffet requires pacing. We’ve found the trick is to book a table, arrive early at 12:30 and tarry for at least three hours.
I like to start with the oysters and a selection of other seafood, typically smoked salmon, octopus salad, sushi, marinated salmon and prawns. Then I’ll eat some of the various salads which don’t contain meat before tackling a bowl of vegetable soup. I like to take a bit of a rest between each course and I find elasticated or loose-waisted attire essential.
For my main course, I’ll have a plate of cooked mixed vegetables with some potatoes, or maybe the pasta. There’s always a large selection of hot dishes, most of which I have to ignore. I’ll naturally skip the cheese course before moving swiftly to a conclusion with a fresh fruit salad. The dessert buffet is a refined form of torture, groaning with small servings of delicious hot and cold desserts – the French like to have a bit of everything.
We’ve found the brunch clientele to be largely French. Lots of tiny French people with huge appetites and hollow legs. We’ve always done the buffet justice but we never manage to eat as much as the French who eat loads of small plates of food. I’m tempted to ask whether they’ve starved themselves all week? But I know the answer will be a surprised no!
Aside from the Carlton in Cannes we can highly recommend Terre Blanche (in Tourrettes, Cannois hinterland), The Hermitage in Monte Carlo and The Four Seasons Grand Hotel du Cap, Cap Ferrat. The latter is a favoured spot once the weather improves and allows us to dine out on the terrace.
Indulgence necessitates a long leisurely walk, despite the weather, before returning home for a relaxing evening, no dinner!
Images of the Carlton Hotel courtesy of their website