I sent my niece, Grace Newton, a text previewing the menu for that Sunday’s brunch at Oak Crest Mansion.
Her response: “I’m so excited!”
I wanted something fun to do with her before she headed “across the pond” for her gap year in England, so brunch in the 1920s-era mansion on Menge Avenue sounded perfect. Now a wedding and special event venue as well as a bed and breakfast, Oak Crest Mansion recently began offering fine dining in their Julep Room on Friday and Saturday nights in addition to its Sunday brunch.
Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday for $24.99 each (beverages not included). What makes this brunch unusual is that it’s all you can eat. Oak Crest posts the upcoming menu on their Facebook page several days in advance (the menu changes each week), and diners are encouraged to make reservations by calling 452-5677.
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This was my first time dining at Oak Crest, although I’ve been to a few events there, so I learned that parking is by valet. You stop under the portico in the back, and your friendly valet takes over from there.
The dining room is light, white and spacious, with plenty of windows to enjoy the beauty outside. I’ve long felt that Jay Gatsby would feel right at home here. Grace and I were seated, our drink orders were taken (peach tea for her, a mimosa for me) and we strolled over to the tables laden with a variety of dishes.
This particular Sunday, we were faced with Roasted Asparagus Quiche, Roasted Red Pepper and Onion Grits, biscuits and sawmill gravy, Applewood Smoked Bacon, country sausage, Slowly Braised Pork Belly au Jus, Cast Iron Blackened Catfish with Cajun Buerre Blanc, New Orleans Dirty Rice, Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille, Mississippi Mud Cake, fresh fruit, French pastries, Grandma’s Pound Cake with Blueberry Sauce and Raspberry Lemon Mousse, as well as the waffle station and the omelet station.
Grace, not at all to my surprise, had the waffle station on her radar. That Sunday, diners could choose from traditional homestyle batter or orange marmalade batter. Grace chose the orange, combined with white chocolate chips. The young man making her waffle advised that syrup might be unnecessary, so she put just the tiniest amount to the side. His advice was sage. The waffle was just right without syrup.
I got a made-to-order veggie-centric fluffy omelet with cheese. We also sampled the other fare, comparing notes with each other. Grace really loved the bacon and grits, going back for seconds, and she gave the biscuits a good review. I enjoyed the quiche as well as the grits and bacon, plus the blackened catfish.
“One of my favorite things is ratatouille, and this is really good,” Grace said between spoonfuls of the vegetable dish.
We could have stuffed ourselves on all that, but we knew our job was not complete until we had tried the dessert items.
Mississippi Mud Cake is served in a covered and heated tureen and is more the consistency of bread pudding than cake.
When I opened the lid and the chocolate aroma wafted out, a woman behind me almost swooned.
“Oh my!” she said. “I’ll have to have some of that.”
The pound cake and the mousse both were served creatively — the cake in dessert dishes and the mousse in cocktail glasses.
The Julep Room’s menus are created by chef JeanPaul Lavallee, a Quebec native who has at least 30 years of food and beverage experience.
Once they’ve satisfied their brunch cravings, Oak Crest encourages guests to take a tour of the house.
Oak Crest Mansion
Where: 5267 Menge Ave., Pass Christian
What: Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (reservations required); dinner 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (reservations required)