At Casa Gangotena, brunch is not so much as a meal as a ceremony. Like Catholic mass, the ritual is celebrated on a Sunday, mid-morning, in a beautiful, high-ceilinged room that sings with reverence. If you’re looking for a luxurious way to celebrate Sunday brunch in Quito, we;ve got you covered.
Only the worship here is not religious but culinary: an homage to the succession of coffee, fruits, cereals, breads, pancakes, hams, cheeses and pastries that create the divine balance between breakfast and lunch.
The act of brunch has its own particular history. Its origins can be traced to the British hunt breakfasts of the 19th century: lavish mid-morning feasts of chicken livers, eggs, bacon and sweets. It wasn’t long until the tradition crossed the Atlantic, and by the 1930s it was popularized by Hollywood stars visiting Chicago for a late breakfast.
New York City took to the new meal time like a duck to water, adding the all-important morning cocktails, like the Bloody Mary, Bellini and Mimosa. Today brunch is a weekend rite of passage, a necessary step between a booze-heavy Saturday night and a productive and sociable Sunday.
Entering the restaurant of Old Town’s most iconic hotel met by tables holding folds of Serrano ham from Spain, fluffy white cheese, a rainbow of fruit and a row of steaming steel serving dishes just waiting to be opened to reveal hearty treats within, the anticipation is palpable.
Once seated in the light-filled dining room, the white walls of San Francisco peeping through the windows, the formalities begin with the presentation of piping hot coffee and then the first Mimosa (unlimited refills are included in the price), fizzing and crackling in its champagne flute.
But once the first round of drink-serving is done with, open season is declared on the buffet.
The bruncher must ask some difficult questions of him or herself: fruit before or after the main course? Sourdough bread, croissant or waffle? Chocolate cereal or granola? Meaty white fish in creamy sauce from those aluminum servers, or silky pink wild salmon from New Zealand? Is it futile to even try to choose? When it comes to the pastry section, delightful, dainty creations displayed like ornaments, oozing with raspberry cream and spiked with honeycomb, meringue or freeze-dried oranges it’s certainly best to take all six of them and be done with it.
As brunchers continue on their gastronomic odyssey – noble trips from table to buffet and back struggling under the weight of their laden plates and from their ever-tightening waist-bands – a subtle presence is felt.
Casa Gangotena’s waiters and waitresses, masters of intuition and effortless Ecuadorian hospitality keep the operation running smoothly, topping up coffees, clearing the carnage of finished plates, and bringing replacement Mimosas as they mysteriously disappear.
Ideal for special family outings, group get-togethers or even for an off-beat date, brunch at Casa Gangotena is an unmissable event the will leave you satisfied in body and soul.
Available every Sunday. $35 per person, includes unlimited Mimosas and valet parking. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Three ways to work it off if you’ve overindulged
Take a walk in beautiful Itchimbia park. The grassy 54-hectare garden is home to some of the best panoramic views of the city and are perfect for a spot of kite-flying.
Cycle through the Old Town all the way up to the north of the city and back. On Sundays one of Quito’s busiest roads is closed off for the Ciclopaseo, a 30 km route reserved for cyclists. Bicycles are available for hire various points along the way.
Climb to the top of the neo-Gothic towers of the Basilica, and be rewarded with a fabulous view of the city. There’s a fair amount of vertigo-inducing stairs to climb, light work after all those Mimosas…