Best Sunday Brunch (2000)

Scottsdale Princess Resort
7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale

Anyone can serve a huge Sunday brunch. It takes alarmingly little skill to toss together pedestrian scrambled eggs, table after table of mayo-based salads, endless wheels of cheeses, chicken done in by chafing dishes, and roast beast carved by sleepy resort staff.

Most skilled chefs can easily fashion a high-quality, dainty Sunday brunch, too. A talented chef can impress with sumptuous à la carte entrees, perhaps fancied up with a trip to fussy salad and dessert tables. But that's little more than an excellent lunch, isn't it? And let's admit it: Brunch isn't a true treat unless it's all-you-can-eat.

Marquesa has captured the best of both. The Mobil Four Star/AAA Five Diamond restaurant unites inspired Catalan cuisine with Italian and French influences for a drop-dead gorgeous unlimited tasting experience.

We don't eat for weeks in anticipation of a mid-morning tour of Marquesa's market-style nirvana. And not just to allow for greater gluttony, but to better savor the delicacies put forth by chef Reed Groban. The menu changes per availability of ingredients, but we can always count on the radiant treasures of the Mediterranean.

It's almost an embarrassment of riches, but we struggle bravely through, feasting on duck with cauliflower puree, lentil and sausage; fire-roasted couscous; paella; braised quail; veal empanada; turkey with hazelnut polenta; and caviar.

Does Marquesa's brunch cost a little more? At $49 per person, yes. But it's so satisfying that it's the only meal we'll want to eat that day. And since the open-air brunch isn't offered during the heat of summer, we've got some time to save up the cash, and the calories.

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