Brunch is now a hotly contested slot to draw in diners, and as the daypart heats up, restaurants are upping their game with well-crafted food and proprietary beverages.

Beginning Jan. 1, Filini Bar and Restaurant in Chicago elevated its brunch offering with a special buffet that is offered New Year’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day at $45 per person (not including tax and gratuity), and comes with a 35-foot-long Beverage Bar where guests can make their own brunch beverages, from a Bloody Mary and Mimosa to a Bellini and Rossini.

The 150-seat concept, which serves contemporary Italian cuisine, is part of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.

“The server brings a tall glass with ice and 1.5 ounces of vodka, and the rest is up to the guest,” explains Kayla Arthur, Filini bar manager.“We provide wooden skewers for guests to build their Bloody Mary’s as they wish.”

On the bar are spicy and mild house-made Bloody Mary mixes and various spices, including cumin, black pepper, celery salt, and red pepper flakes. Guests can also choose from a variety of pickled vegetables, like green beans, asparagus, and carrots, as well as cocktails onions, regular olives, blue cheese olives, and lime and lemon wedges. Larger accompaniments, which can be skewered, include shrimp, bacon, Italian cured meats, and Italian cheese cubes.

To top it off, guests can also choose from a plethora of sauces, including red, green, mild, extra spicy, Louisiana, barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, and A1 Steak Sauce.

Customers who prefer a Bellini, Rossini, or Mimosa can mix Prosecco with peach puree, strawberry puree, or orange juice for the respective cocktail of their choice.

Small changes to the food buffet are made for each holiday, but the core items stay the same. For example, Easter brunch had more kid-friendly desserts, since it is a time when families eat together, while the New Year’s Day brunch is more focused on the Beverage Bar, Arthur explains.

The Mother’s Day buffet this weekend will be made more refined by switching out the barbecue brisket station for a prime rib station, as well as adding a live risotto station. “Mother’s Day is more about making the occasion feel special, whereas New Year’s Day is about dusting off last night’s glitter and curing your hangover,” notes Arthur.

Filini is planning to expand the brunch buffet to other holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The restaurant also offers a standard brunch menu featured every Saturday and Sunday.

By Joann Whitcher

Bar Management, Beverage, Industry News