Opinion: Brunches can't afford to make mistakes

Our resident columnist Duncan Fraser-Smith on brunches

The phenomenon that is brunch in this part of the world continues to amaze me. We are continually spoilt for choice and the offerings just go from strength to strength in options, variety, and style. In fact, there are so many ways to experience brunch now that it saddens me to share one with you that has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I have mentioned previously, in fact probably bemoaned previously, how the excess of huge buffet brunches needs to be addressed by the industry as a whole to minimise wastage and provide better efficiencies in brunch operations. I am pleased to say that the emergence of a la carte brunch offerings has done a lot to address this.


Being presented with an a la carte menu at the beginning of your brunch experience, where by you can choose your offerings, and repeat the orders as much as you like ensures two key things: A massive reduction in food wastage and freshly prepared meals meaning higher quality of product. Result!

Until now… I was recently exposed to a brunch whereby the entire restaurant presents as per above. A la carte menu on the table, inclusive of beverages for a fixed price, and a three-hour window of service. Ideal for a larger group I thought, but no! The menu is a la carte to a point, i.e. the restaurant determines when the food is to be served, not the customer. What? Yes, you heard me correctly, there are 10-15 items on the menu and the restaurant serves those items to the entire dining room at timings of its choice. What did this mean for service? Well given that not all tables arrived right on time of opening, our first courses were served 40 minutes after seating in wave service, like a banquet.

There are obvious issues here such as people’s dietary requirements, meaning that a couple of the guests were not able to eat until after the sixth course had been served. Sorry guys but in this day and age this is absolutely unacceptable and taking the whole brunch experience to a new level… downwards.

Surely, we have competent chefs and floor staff that can manage serving 10-15 items in an a la carte fashion rather than banquet style table drops? This also, in our case, meant that as this style of service is not advertised, we did not inform in advance of any dietary requirements, hence our guests waiting nearly one and a half hours before the freight train of food delivery came about with something they could eat.

Rant over. We need to remember that we are here to provide our customers and guests with a truly memorable experience, not dictate to them how and when they can eat what they have been promised. However, if you do want to do this make it clear from the outset please.

Because after all, we all enjoy a good brunch affair.

Duncan Fraser-Smith is the director — global food & beverage for The First Group who is developing, creating and executing more than 30 new concepts to site within the company’s hotel portfolio. Email him at duncan.fraser-smith@thefirstgroup.com.

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