We never knew there was a Sunday brunch buffet here despite living less than 10 minutes away! So when the friendly park superintendent let us in on one of Geauga County's "Best Kept Secrets" we made a reservation and stopped in the next day.
The restaurant is on the first floor of the hotel-like lodge Punderson Manor, State of Ohio-owned but privately-run by the Xanterra Group. If driving from State Rte 87 (between Auburn Road and Rte 44), you need to drive deep into Punderson State Park to find the manor. Once there parking is plentiful off to the side of the building. Be careful for pedestrian traffic as there is a pool and several cabins nearby!
We were there promptly for the start of brunch at 10:00 although the place had already been open for their usual breakfast menu. We had been cautioned to make a reservation for earlier in the day as the place was expected to be crowded for Sunday brunch. At first we were curious about this pearl of wisdom as we were only the second ones seated but about 45 minutes later the larger groups started filtering in. Good advice - earlier the better.
It's not a very big restaurant but the views by the window are quite nice. Beyond the outdoor seating area immediately outside our window the grassy knoll slopes into a thick bastion of trees and waters of glacial Punderson Lake - the largest natural lake in Ohio. Of course we were very happy to enjoy this view in comfortable air conditioning rather than sweat it outside.
Now the food. I have to be careful here judging the restaurant solely on its Sunday bunch buffet (our only visit so far) because any buffet will suffer that slight cafeteria-like quality caused by cooking for quantity and the ravages of what chafing dishes can do to ingredients. But here goes...
For about $19/person, the buffet was better than just decent but had nothing that truly crossed into spectacular or sublime. Not divinely flavorful but certainly not bland. Nothing to complain about and, all in all for a brunch buffet, we were satisfied enough to want to come back time and time again.
The selection of their Sunday brunch buffet included the standard fare of scrambled eggs, bacon, and bangers (not cheap link sausage). There were biscuits & gravy, herbed potatoes, and herbal chicken. A variety of fruit salad, cold plates, and pastries were also offered.
One of the two highlights of this Sunday brunch buffet is the meat carving station. The prime rib was decent - not as flavorful or tender as nearby competitors (see: Dutch Country Restaurant in Middlefield or JD's Post House in Parkman) but will do the trick on a Sunday morning. However, the omelet bar, of course being the other highlight, with the usual assortment of meats and veggies was definitely a winner.
Again for Sunday brunch? Definitely - and many more to come. If we don't keep stuffing ourselves with brunch, we may even have room to try out dinner sometime! ;)
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