I hate brunch, but the way I feel right now, I wouldn’t mind eating one at Simon Restaurant & Lounge every week for the next 10 years. Maybe it isn’t brunch I hate, but the idea of brunch, a bunch of Good Life-worshiping yuppies drinking Bloody Marys, while the rest of us proles make do with stale English muffins and leftover meatloaf.
But ah, the all-you-can-drink Bloody Mary bar at Simon, available for just $7 on top of this $38 all-you-can-eat deal.
I snuck Clamato and Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce into my Bloody Mary, a glass tumbler filled with enough Skyy vodka to power a small rocket, then topped it off with beef jerky and a huge celery stalk. Luckily, I had my wife to help me finish. Skyy is mother’s milk to her. (Just kidding, babe.)
If you haven’t been to the new incarnation of celebrity chef Kerry Simon’s restaurant, it’s been relocated to the Palms Place tower, a sixth-floor aerie with a pool view, a wall of herbs in a rear room and a full-blown sushi bar, where actual Japanese chefs (as opposed to Korean or Taiwanese) cleave slabs off various and delicious endangered sea creatures.
Most of the brunch is set up on the perimeter around the sushi bar.
The non-Bloody Mary drinks—smoothies, coffee and fresh pomegranate juice—are brought to your table by a team of, no joke, pajama-wearing servers. I haven’t been this close to a 20-year-old in PJs since the Nixon admin.
Pizza, a lavish breakfast job slathered with country gravy, ham, bacon and a runny egg, sunny-side up, in its dead center, is also served, and so is anything from the menu’s “White Trash” contingent, such as pigs in a blanket—cocktail franks in tiny sesame-dotted pastry wrappers—or waffles and chicken, taking a page from LA’s famous soul haven Roscoe’s.
And then, there is the actual sushi section, where a bona fide Japanese sushi master throws out stuff such as crispy sesame rice in crunchy little cubes, high-grade nigiri in flavors such as yellowtail, salmon and sweet shrimp and the signature Simon roll, a spicy tuna concoction that will make you understand why Simon’s face is recognized by almost everyone on the island of Honshu. Well, not really.
This only scratches the proverbial surface. There are sensational, cooked-to-order panini, one with pecorino cheese and honeycomb, another that uses pretzel bread, Fontina cheese and pressed ham (think Teutonic Cuban sandwich). From the griddle come cashew butter and roasted jam sandwiches, French toast made with brioche and accompanied by real maple syrup and buttermilk pancakes that are actually springy.
There are peel-and-eat shrimp, the huge kind, which are irresistible with Simon’s house-made remoulade sauce, found in little plastic cups like you get at El Pollo Loco. Eggs are also cooked to order. How about a caramelized onion, tomato, spinach and asparagus omelet topped with the cheese of your choice? Are you ready to throw in the towel?
Don’t be. You can also get some of Simon’s well-known meatloaf, barbecued ribs with jalapeño corn muffins and coleslaw or any of a number of assorted pastries. The muffins, croissants and lightly frosted, yeasty cinnamon rolls are all impeccable. Is a 4,000-calorie meal reality to you? Yeee-es.
This being a family-style affair, kiddies haven’t been neglected. Fresh fruit is carved into little pieces and stuck to little clumps of rice, sushi style. Peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese and popcorn chicken bites that make McNuggets taste like bits of animal dung are also de rigueur for the 12-and-under set here. Keep those Bloody Marys well away.
And have we forgotten to mention dessert? Not on your tintype. Simon’s famous Junk Food Platter, featuring mock Hostess Snowballs and Cupcakes, cotton candy, Rice Krispies-style treats and the best caramel corn this side of the Continental Divide, will be picked over until you cross the pain threshold, the body’s unmistakable signal that you’ve eaten too much. Is this the best brunch in town? Fuhgeddaboutit.
If the price for this feast seems indulgent in these austere times, consider this: The cost of all-you-can-eat sushi in most local spots is around $25. So throw caution to the wind, unfurl the wallet and dive right in. Just don’t plan on dinner.