Miles of scenic farmland, growing ever more lush and green as the drive east continued, make a bucolic introduction to a stately, meticulously landscaped entry for one of the Island’s most popular wedding venues. A manor stood at the end of the drive, with elegant signs pointing the way to the restaurant, spa, garden house, and other venues. It was beautiful, but felt a bit lacking in soul; you could easily tell that this is a catering hall run by corporate heads, set to a formula of what is generally pleasing across the board…which is not necessarily a bad thing!
Desmond’s at East Wind was our destination, so we followed that sign to an ample parking lot that led toward the back of the big building, parked, and walked up to a grand double-door entrance, next to a sign for ice cream. The entrance foyer was similarly generically attractive in a slightly older (90s?), classic style, and the shiny wooden bar smacked of tradition.
The seating area was also a bit dated, but still tasteful, like an elegant grandma’s formal dining room. Plenty of tables and plenty of space kept the volume down despite the wide range of ages from the multigenerational crowds. This was clearly more of a family brunch spot and special occasion venue. Mimosas and coffee were served almost immediately, and we were released into the wild–a high-ceilinged, beautiful room awash in natural sunlight and six lavish, impressive stations of diverse offerings. One look at the spread and we knew we were going to be here a while!
The variety here was ASTOUNDING, and the quality was actually very high, especially given the range of items available. There was such balance in the flavors–nothing was bland, but nothing was overseasoned, either. A carving board, hot waffle, and omelet station was on the right of the entrance, with an omelet topping table directly across it to strategically guide the line and stem any traffic overflow, which there rarely ever is on the multiple times I’ve been here. Counterclockwise was the cheese and salad spread; chafing dishes; then a baked goods and fruit display. Separate from that was a big dessert table with exceptional treats, but the towering chocolate fountain was clearly the intended pièce de résistance.
- The bread selection here had everything anyone could possibly want, with danishes nestling a variety of fillings or spiraled with cinnamon; crispy croissants; muffins aplenty; rolls and SCONES; sliced bread ready for the toasting machine next to them; and bagels of all types. Cream cheese and smoked salmon were on hand, along with a bowl of whipped butter (not individually packaged, so waffle and French Toast fans should take note) and whipped cream.
- For guests trying to stay off the tempting simple carbs, it’ll be tough facing down this cornucopia of baked goods to opt for the lighter choices on the same table. Fruit was arranged prettily on platters, berries sat in their juices in a bowl, and yogurt provided a healthy base for it all. Granola was also available.
- The omelet station was really well planned. Putting your toppings/fillings together at a separate table avoided traffic jams, so there was never much of a wait. The omelets were executed well; fluffy, not greasy, and served with a smile. You can also get fried eggs and egg whites cooked to order.
- The carving station‘s featured meat has rotated in the past, but is most often a nice smoked, spiral-cut ham. The flavor is mild and typical. Breakfast pizza has also made appearances nearly every time I’ve been there, but it’s a bit lackluster compared to that of Suburban Eats, whose buttery focaccia-style crust is a decadent dream. The crust at Desmond’s falls short of local standards, and although the bacon, egg, and cheese combination is usually a home run, a too-long rotation and outstanding other options made this a pass for me.
- Hot, fresh Belgian-style waffles are a fine choice here, and you can choose to wait for the attendant to make you your very own or take prepared quarters from the chafing dish right in front of the machine. This offering is in lieu of pancakes, mind you, so if pancakes are a must, this might not be the spread for you.
- If you’re looking for French Toast or syrup, head to the steam tables directly across the room from the waffles and omelets. In one of those covered plates, you’ll come upon your French Toast, which is made with regular bread here. It’s good, and the conventional breakfast syrup is kept warm and can be found in a pitcher on the table, which diners tend to miss.
- In the rest of the chafing dishes, there’s always scrambled eggs, which run a bit salty here; your typical deep-fried bacon and breakfast sausage, and Eggs Benedict, which are surprisingly better than what can be expected of a buffet. Those rotate out pretty quickly, and most batches have the eggs poached only a tad over medium, which is commendable for the amount of Bennies they put in each tray. The sauce doesn’t separate and doesn’t drown the food, either, so that’s a huge plus in my book.
- Lunch items rotate, and I’ve had fried chicken and salmon here before. There’s always a pasta dish or two, with melted mozzarella and tomato sauce. Every weekend has a different hot soup as well.
- To go with that is a huge expanse of cheese and salads. This is where they really excel. Although the cheeses available are not particularly rare, they’re the ones that most of us really enjoy and of good quality. The salads are outstanding–not too heavily dressed and varied in terms of ingredients and recipes. Beets, beans, pastas, antipasto, caprese, and more made this no boring “pick your own greens” kind of operation. You could easily skip breakfast and have a filling lunch just sampling half this table alone.
- Dessert was the shining star here. Multiple types of cake are offered on any given Sunday, from carrot to Black Forest to tiramisu and classic chocolate fudge and yellow cakes. Unlimited creme brulee is always tempting, and rice puddings, Italian jelly-filled butter cookies, different plays on cheesecake, tarts, and petit fours also usually hit the rotation.
- Eyes light up as soon as people walk into the serving area, and with a tiered milk chocolate fountain before them, who can blame them? The selection of things to dip spans from fresh fruit such as strawberries and pineapples to Rice Krispies treats; jumbo marshmallows; big fresh-baked cookies; pretzels; brownies; and more.
- Coffee was served nearly immediately, and attentive service made sure no mug ever got cold. Good, medium-bodied, and neutral, once again sticking to the formula of mass appeal.
- A complimentary Mimosa was served promptly by staff balancing trays of the drink, nearly as soon as our table was assigned. Fair, middling recipe, and as refreshing as expected.
I Loved …
- That it was a real people-pleaser. This venue is perfect for large gatherings and is a happy medium of classics done well.
- The price. You really can’t go wrong with the cost vs. quantity and quality here. The ambiance was upscale traditional, service consistently good, and kids under 10 eat for $15.95, while that tremendous spread is available to adults at a mere $27.95. I’ve seen much less food executed at far lower quality for more.
- The leisurely pace. We were never rushed, and discreet hot and cold beverage service helped to make us feel welcome to linger.
- The balance in flavors. Not too much, not too little. Nothing bland, nothing overwhelming.
- The sheer and extraordinary variety.”Something for everyone” is perfectly executed here.
- The range of tastes, from light to rich, healthy to hearty, salty to sweet.
- The non-basic cheese and salad stations.
- The scones. They had raisin, cinnamon, and blueberry on different occasions, and they were pretty true to tradition and not sugar-bombs like what you’d get at Panera and Starbucks.
- The desserts. So. Many. DESSERTS!
- The chocolate fountain and all its trimmings.
They have weddings down to a science at East Wind, and their seamless brunch reflects that as well. They’ve really mastered the middle ground, catering to a variety of tastes and age groups and providing an even experience in terms of satisfaction.There really is something for everyone, and although there were no particular standouts, everything was satisfying in an even manner without being too run-of-the-mill, letting the company you’re keeping be the star of your afternoon. The flow makes a lot of sense in some places, but not in others. You kind of have to hunt for condiments (butter, syrup), and not all similar foods are placed together. However, if you know what you want and need, and do a circuit first of the room, it’s a nice way to make sure that you see everything that’s available rather than piling on the first thing you see. The food was very good to excellent, and the variety is the best I’ve seen on the Island so far; you don’t even miss the seafood pricier buffets sometimes offer. I’d categorize this as one of the safest choices you could make for a group brunch, but not too big of a group if you want to be at one table since they’re all round (which is odd). A fine experience as a whole.
Desmond’s at East Wind: 5720 Route 25A, Wading River
- Days: Sundays
- Times: 9:30 AM – 2 PM
- Menu: Rotating menu
- Type: Buffet brunch, $25.95
- Promos: Complimentary Mimosa or Bloody Mary
- Yelp Reviews | My Review – Very Good