Biting into OC Brunch - Motif at St. Regis

If you're looking to spoil yourself in Orange County, take a long drive down PCH on a sunny day and enjoy the beautiful sight of the surf and sand on one side. It's a reason to love living in southern California. This view is also a main draw to snagging brunch at Motif at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. We spent a lot of my brunch visits checking out restaurants that had set menus from which one could order but Motif was the first on our list to have a buffet. When I mention buffet, I am not talking about long lines around heat lamped tables or sneeze-guarded salad bars. Given the space and the gorgeous hotel itself, Motif featured sumptuous buffet stations, some with chefs customizing your dishes live and some with multiple tiers of offerings to pick as you waltz by. The brunch at the restaurant can be enjoyed by both hotel guests and the public, and having started in 2002, it has gained a popular following. Not only are the dishes presented lavishly but the patio dining offers a breathtaking Pacific Ocean view.

We got a walking tour by Executive Sous Chef Laurent Elmerich who took us by every station as we both listened to him and the excited buzz in the maining dining room. With nearly 15 themed stations, the brunch buffet is fairly impressive and based upon following the seasons, purchasing ingredients available from the farms and market. They try to also incorporate a variety of cuisines so there was a plethora of types out there. We spotted a long display of miniature breakfast breads and pastries upon walking in, good for those wanting sweets upon waking. There were live stations with cooks on hand to prepare what you'd like such as the outdoor omelet station with about 15 different fillings (such as sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and shrimp) six toppings (such as guacamole and salsa), and at least four cheeses. A carving station tempted people into large heaps of sliced meats too.

A detail that we found quite charming was the inclusion of a "kids' station," a lowered table (about lower thigh-high) with typical dishes that kids tend to like such as pizza and cookies. While I am an advocate for having kids eat things adults eat, it definitely is not the case for a lot of parents where they can convince their children to have what they're having; this is a nice and accommodating move on Motif's part. Another station that seemed to almost cater to children (though there were, of course, more serious fare offered too) was the live one making pancakes, French toast, and crepes. More than 40 types of toppings were available, and we noted that it was fairly kid-centric because of how many sweets there were. There were even whole candy bars that could be grabbed! We decided not to fill ourselves with sugar and skipped an order at this station. For those wanting healthier choices, the antipasti and salad stations got me excited, and my plate could not hold very much as I wanted to try most everything. Varying styles of salads came in smaller bowls while hummus and similar dips could be spooned; there was even a large assortment of different marinated vegetables and olives. I thought those marinated options were the best.

With any buffet, you'll have people searching for the items that make them think they found the best value out of their meal. For a brunch at Motif, the price tag is not light so it makes sense that the most popular stations included the sushi table and the fresh seafood on ice station. Their chefs made the sushi fairly often from what we could tell because the plates were constantly being refreshed. We weren't the biggest fans of the sushi as compared to actual sushi restaurants but for a buffet setup, these were fairly good. Our favorites were actually the freshly shucked oysters and crab claws on ice, both exceptionally fresh and sweet from seawater brine. Another popular destination for the buffet goers was the dessert stations, a spattering of miniature desserts on mirrored tiles that invoked elegance. There were so many styles that it was hard to taste them all but we dutifully tried our best. The shooters seem to be your best bet here!

So if you are looking to spend a special brunch occasion somewhere, Motif is definitely a place to spoil someone. It is located at 1 Monarch Beach, Resort N Dana Point, CA 92629. They have brunch every Sunday and holiday from late morning to mid-afternoon with reservations highly recommended. Three tiers of pricing based on unlimited champagne, no champagne, or child are offered.

Fun fact: one of the origin stories of the bloody Mary cocktail (of which there are many) involves the St. Regis Hotel in New York. In honor of that, every St. Regis hotel has a signature bloody Mary and on Father's Day, has a full bloody Mary bar! This location's is called the Agave Maria and ismade with Herradura Silver Tequila and green jalapeno peppers.

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.

NOTE: This brunch article is a part of a series that we will be running through to April, the month when the full editorial will appear with a multitude of more articles and informational pieces in the Orange County edition of LOCALE Magazine. Make sure to check stands when the issue drops so you can get the full scoop on brunch in OC!

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