Saved by the donut

Saved by the donut

Back when most hotels orchestrated their own food and beverage offerings from within, luxury flags like The Ritz-Carlton were best known for their outrageous brunches. A seemingly endless stretch of exquisitely dressed buffet tables featured decadent delicacies: carved prime rib, crab claws and caviar. All, of course, best enjoyed with unlimited champagne and followed by architectural opera cakes.

Not to say that people no longer appreciate the finer bites in life, but even The Ritz has wised up to the fact that in today’s culinary marketplace, people like to have fun with their food. While the best brunches still include the requisite offerings, they’ve also found creative alternatives to the classics.

This past weekend I stayed at The Ritz-Carlton in Miami Beach, the perfect location to enjoy all of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s main events. While I should’ve been stuffed between Burger Bash, Bubble Q and over-sized meals at Hakkasan (at the Fountainbleu) and Mr. Chow (at the W), I nonetheless couldn’t say no to The Ritz’s expansive Sunday spread.

It wasn’t the smoked salmon that enticed me, nor even the pop-up sushi bar, but amidst the Coke floats in shot glasses was a “Dunkin Donut Station.” A heaping mound of freshly fried donut holes was flanked with dipping sauces (chocolate, vanilla, caramel) and toppings (rainbow sprinkles, peanuts and chocolate balls).

A do-it-yourself donut bar isn’t something you’d expect to find at a fancy Ritz-Carlton feast, but it goes to show how youthful dining alternatives can make a buttoned-up brand seem youthful and contemporary again. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel — you just have to cover it in powdered sugar.