10:23 a.m. ET | Park and E 49th, Manhattan – Peacock Alley was once the space between two hotels, the Waldorf and the Astoria. Throughout the day, the conjoining corridor filled with the elite of New York, dressed luxuriously, peacocking. Now, it’s the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the corridor is home to Peacock Alley, a restaurant, bar and, on Sunday mornings, the spectacle of food we call the American brunch buffet.
Chef David Garcelon, who’s run brunch for the past four years, recommends coming around noon, when the city of New York lifts its ban on alcohol service (booze can’t be served prior to 12:00 p.m.), so you can partake in both courses — breakfast and lunch — properly. But at just past 10, one should have no problem loading up plates across the gamut of what’s on display — pain au chocolat, charcuterie, cheeses, oysters, caviar, bacon, chicken and pork sausage, an egg, roast ham, beef Wellington, lobster mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, lobster bisque soup, fresh fruit, red velvet cake. Black coffee pairs with everything. The buffet is set up right in the middle of the lobby, and while there’s less peacocking among the guests (though one onlooker did spring for petty larceny of a cantaloupe slice), the display is appropriately boastful. The idea is that this is a caloric spectacle, and the best thing is to embrace everything, from the pancakes — traditional staples of brunch — to the baked Alaska — those flourishes of the ornamentally rich.