Enjoy the soothing sounds of the four-piece Paris Takes Quartet crooning in a multitude of languages as you wiggle your way through the maze of tables to pile your plate high with everything and anything under the sun. But you have to know what you’re getting into with brunch at Dazzle. Love them or hate them, it’s a buffet. It’s loud. And it’s not really the place to go to catch up with old friends and gossip because it’s a completely out-of-sync dance with people constantly in motion between their tables and the buffet as they reload their plates. But if you know what to expect, you’ll leave feeling like a happy fat kid in a grown-up world: fancy, cultured, and with a piano accordion that steals the show.
The urban jazz brunch at Dazzle is only offered on Sundays from 9:30-1:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended because it is quite the spectacle. With so many people crowding the doorway waiting to be seated, the host was more than a bit overwhelmed — more frazzled than dazzled. The crowd is mostly of the older, after-church variety, but I was less focused on the people watching than I was on the table of Voodoo Doughnut imposters (which I later learned were knockoffs from King Soopers), luring me into gluttony and convincing me that a buffet during diet season wasn’t such a bad idea. Although they claim there is an hour-and-a-half table limit, it never appeared like they were trying to rush you out or turn the tables, so we were left to gorge at our leisure. There is an $8 per person minimum to support the venue’s artists, but seeing as the buffet is $20 for all you can eat and another $10 if you want bottomless mimosas or bloodies, racking up a tab isn’t hard to do.
Dazzle is divided into two rooms: a lounge area with circular club-style booths and the restaurant portion, both which have a chaotic hotel lobby feel, dim lighting, and tables that are virtually on top of each other, making milling about to get food a bit of an obstacle course. The jazz quartet rotates between the two rooms, with the other getting music piped in when it’s not your turn for a live show. We were seated front and center — almost on the stage itself — and were a little concerned about being able to hear each other over the band, but our worries were unfounded since no one was on the drums.
As for the decor, there’s not much to take in other than random tributes to some of the Jazz greats who have played there, so it’s not much for ambiance (again, think cheesy hotel lobby), but the servers are friendly and on their A-game, continuously removing dirty dishes and refolding napkins every time a customer gets up, oddly leaving only the silverware as they whisked away plate after plate (after plate).
Bottomless bloodies and mimosas are available in orange, pineapple, cranberry, apple, or a hybrid; bartenders mix the drinks for you, so unfortunately there are no opportunities for a heavy hand at a DIY station. One brunch cocktail is $5 so if you’re going to have more than two, bottomless is the better deal. Prepare to wait though because the line for the bar is often longer than for the food.
There are three food stations setup around the two rooms — a hot bar, a cold bar and a dessert station — with a weekly rotating menu of entrees and carving-station options, with eggs and a few other breakfast staples as mainstays. This week happened to be Mardi Gras themed so we were treated to a plethora of NoLa favorites, with everything from chicken and sausage jambalaya (major win) to king cake. The rest of the spread covers almost every breakfast option you could want: cold cuts, cereals, fruits, granola, waffles and French toast.
After seating us, the waiter brought out a slice of monkey bread for the table, which was supposedly the house specialty, but a bit weird that four of us were meant to share one lowly piece. It also paled in comparison to the homemade crepe of the week, which happened to be bananas Foster, one of my favorites — nutty, rummy, and flambéed right in front us. The same chef was making omelets to order with all the standard toppings from which to choose. While I was skeptical of the small pan he was using, my eyes were bigger than my stomach and it ended up being the perfect size to leave enough room to go back for multiple rounds of this and that.
Ready to test Dazzle's Southern chops, I dug into the mac and cheese was loaded with Gruyere but also somehow sweet — potentially the result of some co-mingling on my plate, the very definition of #buffetproblems. I could nitpick each individual dish and say the rice in the etouffée was a little dry or the cheesy grits suffered from what looked like shredded Kraft American, but that's really what you expect from a buffet. You’re there for the experience; with such variety it's not hard to find something to get your money’s worth. One tip though: If you do see something that looks good – grab it while it’s there. We wanted eggs and hash browns and, frustrated by the line, decided to come back for it later, only to find it had been replaced by a completely different dish: a curious maple-glazed pork belly that had nothing to do with Fat Tuesday (or really breakfast at all).
Despite the hit or miss dishes, the dessert table alone sold me with its decadent chocolate fondue tray, cakes on cakes on cakes, and even a few surprises to throw in your purse for later – a random selection of Twinkies, fortune cookies, lollipops and gummy bears.
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