Review: Matt the Miller’s Sunday buffet brunch

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From the January 10, 2013 edition

Still ideal for treating hangovers or eeking out yet more indulgent weekend fun, the all-American Sunday buffet brunch was once a Columbus staple. Possibly it’s less popular these days because of the lower quality of offerings from excessive underachievers and/or raised prices for worthwhile all-you-can-eat privileges. Whatever the reasons, nowadays, decent versions of these eggs-plus-lunch chow-athons seem mostly relegated to pricey hotels. Enter Matt the Miller’s Tavern (this review is based on the Grandview MTM, but its Dublin brother offers a similar deal).

During Sunday buffets (10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.), a big band soundtrack sets the upbeat but relaxed pace in MTM’s comfy space peppered with plenty of sporty barroom HDTVs. This pleasant but casual setting suits the made-here, no B.S. buffet — a $15 spread whose range, taste and freshness impresses. No wonder it’s well-attended by variegated samplings of Grandviewers and Arlingtonians who recognize a good thing — or dozens of them — when they taste it.

I’ll start with the decked-out Bloody Mary bar ($7), and so should you. After a barkeep decants you a generous glug of vodka, you can detail your tomato cocktail with a bounty of add-ons such as: pickles, pickled okra, pickled haricot vert, horseradish, fresh pepper, Worcestershire, an arsenal of hot sauces, Slim Jim-like sticks, olives, celery, and plenty more. If you like (I like), you can quickly wind up with a spicy, hair-of-the-dog, floating salad.

With the important liquids secured, you can turn toward MTM’s other abundant items. Stomach strategy-wise, I like to honor brunch’s etymology by starting with a “tiny bit of everything” breakfast warm-up and then moving strongly on to lunch — which I prefer. (OK, this might seem unnecessary, but I feel compelled to spell out an obvious caveat: recently refilled steam-table troughs hold more texturally correct goodies.)

From the first meal side of things, MTM offers good iterations of the usual suspects. So along with scrambled eggs (try ’em with a blast of kicky salsa), bacon and sausage links, MTM’s got: homemade biscuits and rich and creamy sausage gravy; a solid omelet station; thick and crispy, freshly made waffles (try ’em with a scoop of cinnamon butter, i.e. what the friendly waffle station guy called “a little bit of heaven”); roasted redskin potatoes with sautéed peppers and onions plus rosemary; cinnamony french toast; and eggs benedict (my ova was perfectly poached).

The flavorful and homemade lunchy stuff is also voluminous. You can expect alternating wooden paddles containing nifty little thin and crispy flatbreads topped with, say, good shrimp, zesty tasso ham and cilantro pesto; big chunks of steak and mushroom; or margherita-style tomato and basil. I also enjoyed tender and juicy, sweet and spicy white meat quarters of jerk chicken served with hoochy and impressive cheddar grits; rigatoni tossed in a zingy tomato cream sauce outfitted with smoky tasso, diced sautéed fresh vegetable (like zucchini and yellow squash) and shredded carrots; plus a salad station with fresh greens (I recommend the lettuce, cucumber, pimento and blue cheese medley) and a couple of thickish house dressings that taste better than they appear (try the bold and not-too-sweet maple mustard).

In case you’re still not sated, there’s also a dessert table that might have, say, OK-enough butterscotch-iced marble cake and caramelly white cake. However you slice it and however much you eat though, taken altogether, MTM is doing its best to make the easy, breezy and better-than-respectable Sunday buffet brunch popular again.