I tend to stay away from all-you-can-eat buffets for the somewhat crude reason that I never feel I can eat enough to get my money's worth. Certainly $19.95 -- the cost of brunch at Crossroads -- seems like a lot to spend for breakfast. But for those of you who have a couple of glasses of champagne with your eggs Benedict, and a plate of steamed shrimp, some cheese blintzes, a slice of roast beef, a crab cake or two, some smoked salmon . . .
Brunch at Crossroads, in other words, is geared to the pig in all of us. That's not to say that some of the food isn't elegant, but you know you're going to leave stuffed even if you plan on just having a taste of this and that.
The setup is such that you walk through the buffet on your way to your table, so you can be deciding whether to have, say, oysters on the half shell and ham carved while you watch or an omelet with your choice of fillings and a Belgian waffle.
If you're smart, you won't let the hostess seat you at one of the extraordinarily comfortable curved banquettes -- no kidding. Especially if you're the middle person. The banquettes are so sinkable-into you'll have trouble getting in and out for your return trips to the buffet.
The server's role is limited to pouring orange juice and champagne, bringing coffee or tea and clearing away your dirty plates. You do the rest.
A lot of people start with the omelet-and-Belgian-waffle chef, the one place you might have to wait in line. I was waiting to order an omelet when one of the chef's gas burners caught on fire and everything -- omelets, other burner, pot holders -- blazed wildly for a few minutes. I was impressed with his aplomb; he smothered the fire with a dish towel as naturally as if this happened every Sunday. But I did pass on the omelet.
If you want eggs but don't want to wait in line, the eggs Benedict hold up remarkably well on the warming table. The biggest problem is that they don't stay quite hot enough, but perhaps we dawdled before we got back to the table.
Near the eggs Benedict were good blintzes, bacon and sausage, plus barbecued chicken, rice pilaf and a thick, salty but flavorful hot potato and leek soup. Nearby and nearly untouched (the carrots looked a little dried out) were great trays of raw vegetables and dip. And then cheeses. Fruits. Lettuce salads. Pasta salads. Vegetable salads.
For those who wanted breakfast fare, there were croissants, muffins, huge bagels and, for no particular reason, a large bowl of whipped cream. A bit further on was an extravagant spread of desserts ranging from chocolate mousse to spice cake.
I'm sure I've left dishes out. There was so much I felt slightly paralyzed with indecision. But not my companion for the day, my kid. She took one look around at the great roasts of beef and ham, the waffles with everything from chocolate chips to apples, the smoked salmon, the table after extravagant table of food. Then she -- the Pickiest Eater in the World -- asked the omelet-and-waffle chef for pancakes. He had to admit it was one item they didn't have.
Where: Cross Keys Inn, Village of Cross Keys.
Hours: Brunch served Sundays 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Credit cards accepted: Major credit cards.
Features: Buffet brunch.
Non-smoking section? yes.
Call: (410) 532-6900.
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