Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gospel Brunch: House of Blues

There are plenty of choices in Boston for Sunday brunch, though not all of them are accompanied by live entertainment. It is a riskier move for those restaurants as they have a double burden, needing both delicious food and fun entertainment. Yet when they succeed, they are also doubly rewarded.

The original House of Blues in Cambridge used to hold Gospel brunches, good food with spiritual music. That practice has now been instituted at their new Boston location, on Lansdowne Street near Fenway. I had the opportunity to check out the Gospel brunch this past Sunday and I was very pleased with the experience. You definitely need to check out their Gospel brunch.

Brunch may seem a bit pricey at $45 per adult and $25 for children (aged 4-10). But you should consider that the price includes the all-you-can-eat buffet, live gospel performance, coffee, tea, juice, tax and gratuity. So when everything is considered, the price seems much more reasonable.

The brunch is held in their main event hall, which is over ten times as big as the old Cambridge location, and has a capacity of about 2400 people. There are two levels of balconies in the hall and plenty of eclectic art work on the walls, a significant portion which comes from the Cambridge location. Despite its larger size, it still retains an intimate feeling and should be a very cool venue for concerts.

Brunch begins at 11:30am, and you receive an assigned seat at one of the long, rectangular tables which holds twelve people. So you get to meet new people, those seated near you, making for a friendly ambiance. You will then eat for an hour before the Gospel show starts, though you can continue to dine during much of the show. The Gospel show lasts about an hour.

You might want to start with coffee, tea or some juice. Unfortunately, they did not have any iced tea available but hopefully that will change in the future. You can though get a Mimosa or Bloody Mary for only $4.

There is a ton of food at the buffet, lots of different breakfast and lunch dishes, many with a Southern flair. In general, I really liked the food, though I had a few minor issues with some of the items. The scrambled eggs were very good, not runny like some other buffets. You can get bacon, sausage links, cheese grits, hashed brown casserole and more. The biscuits were also excellent. There are thick Belgian waffles with which you can top with fresh fruits and whipped cream.

The lunch items include various salads, a delicious jambalaya (with plenty of pieces of chicken) and a spicy Cajun catfish which was quite tasty. You can select a huge breast of moist, fried chicken (another excellent choice) or get a slice of tender prime rib. I did not care for the sliced turkey breast which seemed a bit too dry.

There is a table with desserts including bread pudding, fresh whipped cream, apple crisp, fruit, brownies, chocolate croisssants, muffins, and more. They had corn muffins but they disappointed me as I was hoping to find their signature rosemary cornbread, one of my favorite items on their regular menu. The rosemary cornbread is one of the best cornbreads I have had. The rest of the desserts though were good, especially the bread pudding which I topped with a nice dollop of fresh whipped cream.

I was pleasantly full by the time the Gospel show began. Freda Battle and the Temple Worshippers entertained and inspired, about fifteen singers and musicians presenting Gospel music with a Latin flair. You do not have to be religious to appreciate their skill and burning passion. I really enjoyed the music, especially with the Latin twist, and the rest of the audience also seemed quite enthralled. By the end of the show, most everyone was on their feet, dancing to the music, clapping and singing along. You can even see Freda Battle, a Boston native, and the Temple Worshippers in concert at the Berklee Performance Center on July 18.

If you want a fun brunch, with plenty of delicious food and inspiring music, then I definitely recommend the Gospel Brunch. I will be sure to return there.

House of Blues
15 Lansdowne St.
Boston, MA
Phone: (888) 693-2583

House of Blues on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that this gospel brunch looks good on paper, so good that I went there with my family last weekend. I don't think this brunch is worth $45. The music lasted for only 45 minutes (and was interpsersed with paryers "In the name of Jesus" and lectures on how only Jesus heals, etc.) and as soon as the concert is over then they asked everyone to leave! My family still had food on our plates and the staff was cleaning off the table. It was clear that the House of Blues is good at running a tight ship for concerts, but brunch is a different story. People go there to relax and eat to their stomach's delight; not to see a 45min concert and then leave right away while there's a buffet full of food being cleared away. I would not recommend this experience. If you want gospel, and you want to stand up and pray several times on a Sunday morning (yep, we were called to solemn prayer mutliple times througbhout "brunch"), then go to a real church. And if you want a good brunch go to a restaurant. Again, I like the idea of having a concert and brunch combined, but House of Blues really blew it.