You know when you start the words “I really wanted to like this place, but….”? That’s my feeling on the brunch at Citrus (formerly called Bambu). Located in the Fairmont Hotel (which goes into new ownership starting January 30, 2017).
Travelzoo raved about their Sunday brunch and offered a discounted TZ Deal of $45 for an $80 value brunch. The brunch was a buffet with bottomless mimosas. It sounded like an excellent deal, especially at a hotel in Newport Beach.
The hotel may be 4 stars, but the experience was barely a 2 star. There’s no self parking to start. The valet was backed up, and we were told to move our car to the edge of the valet area. After waiting for the valet ticket (the person did apologize for the wait) we were reminded to get our ticket validated by Citrus for free 4 hour valet service.
The Citrus was located at the rear of the hotel, in a make shift area which looked like it used to be the piano lounge for the bar. A bamboo fence separated the bar and the lounge (hence the old name Bambu). There was one hostess who also seemed to play busboy as well, and while our reservations were at 10:30 am, we stood in line for about 15 minutes just to check in. I really felt we were at a Vegas buffet, in the non VIP line.
The clientele must be mostly Travelzoo users because the hostess asked if we were using Travelzoo. (We were). She told us to help ourselves to the buffet. The buffet was dismal. Nothing restocked in a timely manner, and the food was not the caliber you’d expect from a fancy hotel like the Fairmont.
The hot plates had hard, scrambled eggs (which took 1/2 hour to get replenished), sausage and bacon you’d find at Smart and Final, along with a dismal display of pastries you’d find at Costco. Nothing extraordinary. They had no carved meats, or even a cold selection of salads you’d think a brunch place would have. The one seafood was a slab of smoked salmon they ripped from a pouch, and they ran out of the bagels.
We were there from 10:30 to almost noon, and the staff had problems keeping the buffet maintained. If they had eggs, they’d run out of something else. Around 11:00, they replenished the french toast, but then they run out of bacon. Certainly not worth the $80 value… Denny’s would have been a better choice, even with the bottomless mimosas.
Stephen commented the free meal we get at hotels and casinos were much better. He felt ripped off, even after paying $45. We did tip our server based on the full value. It wasn’t her fault the buffet sucked. I was sorely disappointed in this buffet and can also see why the hotel got bought out. It doesn’t deserve a 4 star rating.