Unlike Charlie's, Cafe Brioche doesn't try to bowl brunchers over with either opulence or variety. Walking to our window table overlooking the pool and grounds, we didn't see nearly the number of serving tables groaning under brunchtime excess that we expected to greet us. No omelet station, no waffles, no pasta dishes, no chafing dishes with hot entrees. No crepes, no blintzes, not even French toast, either. "It's nice to come to a brunch where you're not overwhelmed," my wife remarked, espousing a philosophy I find difficult to embrace. But if a brunch spread is not going to overwhelm diners with quantity, it better deliver on quality. Cafe Brioche, however, falls a bit short in that category, as well. The low-keyed room matches the sedate fare. A dropped ceiling gives the place an intimate feel, as does the gentle, live harp music. Red-flowered carpeting, comfortable, carved wood chairs and obliging servers plying me with champagne contributed a sense of ease. But the champagne glass struck the first discordant note. It's not the traditional long-stemmed, fluted glass, but a wide cup that looks like it could have held a fruit dessert at a Saturday-night banquet. This outmoded method of serving champagne, which lets the bubbles escape by the third sip, is hardly a major detail, but it does suggest two explanations, neither promising: Management doesn't know, or management doesn't care. The cold offerings lack any hint of novelty and excitement. They'll fill you up without unpleasantness, but only prodigious feats of memory enabled me to recall them just 30 minutes after our encounter. You'll run into pickled-herring fillets, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, shrimp, beef salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, marinated mushrooms and a tub of greenery. Nothing to get remotely worked up about. The meager pickings compelled me to wander over to the fruit section and cheese board, brunch stops that usually have all the attraction of downtown Beirut. And though I enjoyed fresh mango and sharp blue cheese, mango and cheese should not be one of your brunch highlights. Instead of an array of hot entrees, brunchers select one of half a dozen menu options. Duck in port wine sounded the most interesting, but not even a puddle of sauce could moisten the dry medallions. Much better was the tenderloin-topped eggs Benedict, a tender slice of beef perked up with asparagus. Still, as a brunch centerpiece, it's pretty dim, especially when you consider what other Valley resorts put out. Paying homage to Americans' insatiable sweet tooth, the dessert table confronts brunchers with the most options. Chocolate rum cake, marble cheesecake and chocolate-covered dates satisfied our lust for sweets, but couldn't erase the routine nature of everything we'd consumed before them. Rising out of the dessert table was a huge, inexplicable bust of Beethoven. (Did he write "Cheesecake Sonata"?) It looked edible, so we asked the hostess what it was made from. "They say it's white chocolate," she answered dubiously, "but I say it's lard." There's a metaphor lurking here somewhere, but like Cafe Brioche's brunch, it's not really worth seeking out.

Location Info


Sheraton Crescent Hotel

2620 W. Dunlap Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85021

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: North Phoenix

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