Brunch Two Ways: Right and Wrong

Why display a grudging attitude over so simple a request? Because Baleen does everything wrong at brunch. The buffet table in the main dining area was so sparse I was sure we were missing a second room, one where, as I assured my wife, "they display the good stuff." There was no second room. The parsimonious picks included caesar or regular salad; tomatoes and mozzarella; chicken, potato, tuna, and egg salads; artichoke salad that appeared to be canned; mussel and shrimp salad; insipid grilled vegetable platter; similarly insipid fruit plate (grapes, watermelon, ghostly pale cantaloupe and honeydew); smoked salmon (same color as the cantaloupe); supermarket quality bagels (plain only); supermarket quality croissants (or shall we say "crescent rolls").

A few scrawny little muffins rounded out the baked goods. If you want granola or yogurt, sorry. Bacon, ham, sausage? No dice. Hot foods are only available from an à la carte menu that, as at Nemo, comes with the brunch. Main course choices are Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict (topped with what tasted like powdered Hollandaise, only worse), French toast (soppy white-bread version), salmon-asparagus omelet; pasta with vodka cream sauce; and a succulent square of herb-crusted sea bass, which is your best bet -- at least you get a tangible meal with intrinsic value for your otherwise misspent money. The "Viennese Table," a meager three-dessert selection of napoleon, chocolate bread pudding, and chocolate cup with piped-in mousse, is a slap in the face to the good people of Austria.

How can there be such a disparity between Nemo and Baleen? Apparently only one of the two places has pride.

Nemo,100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-532-4550. Sunday brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Baleen,4 Grove Isle, Coconut Grove;305-860-4305. Sunday brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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