This review is about the 2015 Christmas Brunch at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in the famous Garden Conservatory at the Ravello restaurant. We did not stay at the resort. Prior to purchasing our advance tickets, I searched TripAdvisor for reviews of the annual Christmas Brunch and found none, so hopefully this will help future visitors. This review is ONLY about the special, once-a-year, Christmas Brunch at the resort.
As a native Nashvillian, the Gaylord Opryland Resort Christmas Brunch has a long and generally very positive reputation. In fact, the Resort as a whole is famous for its massive and absolutely gorgeous Christmas themes and decor during every Christmas season. In 2015, I had an opportunity to experience the Christmas Brunch. In short, it was very good, but came up short of excellent.
1. Although promoted as a brunch, there is absolutely no breakfast foods available. When I asked about this, the hostess said the menu is "lunch". So don't come looking for waffles, omelets and sausage biscuits.
2. In it's normal routine, Ravello is an Italian restaurant. The Italian theme was present in the menu offerings, however there was only one pasta dish (ravioli), an antipasti bar, and no pizza. I thought the vegetable offerings were sparse as well. I don't know if the resort rotates the brunch through the restaurants each year or not,
3. Do not expect a Christmas meal like you would get at grandma's. There was no turkey and dressing, no ham, no green beans, no cranberry sauce, none of those traditional items. That may or may not be a negative with some guests, but you should be aware.
4. The buffet included a nice, iced seafood section including mussels, crab claws, and raw oysters however there were no cocktail forks or seafood cocktail sauce.
5. Cost is $80 per person, but that is mitigated somewhat by the included values, see below.
1. We purchased our reservations online in advance and my email confirmation that I had printed out was accepted as our "ticket". However, if you did not have that, they had your name on the list and provided you with traditional tickets.
2. Our reservation time was 11:30 am, however we arrived at 11:00 am, not knowing what to expect with parking, lines, etc. Nevertheless, we were seated right away.
3. Our server, Jorge, was great. Always nearby, very helpful and attentive.
4. Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price. Alcohol is available for additional charge.
5. We had an 87 year-old grandma who uses a cane in our party and she was able to navigate the buffet with only minimal assistance.
6. Proteins included strip loin and porchetta, both served at a stand-alone carving station. I had the strip loin which was very good. Also a chicken breast dish (very good) and baked salmon. But that was about it for the meat entrees. There was also cheese ravioli.
7. Vegetables and starches included fresh steamed asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, and salads with dressings.
8. Very big Italian antipasti bar if you like chilled roasted veggies, cheeses, prosciutto, and the like. Various bread and rolls are present, as well as long "crackers" that looked like the crust cut from a homemade multi-grain bread and toasted crisp. Put some prosciutto and shaved Parmesan on that 'cracker' was very good. There is probably an Italian name for them, but I don't know it.
9. Chilled crab claws, mussels, raw oysters on the half shell, and shrimp cocktail shooters. All very good, except no cocktail forks or sauce.
10. The $78.90 price tag per person ($33.09 for 11 and younger) includes gratuity AND free valet parking. Our service was excellent and there was not even a hint that an additional gratuity was necessary. No guest check was presented and when we were done we just got up and left. On the valet parking, you just have to get your valet ticket validated at the restaurant. Our server took care of that for us, but you MUST ask for that. Regular valet price is $18 I believe.
11. The ambiance is incredible. The Garden Conservatory Atrium is known as a must-see in Nashville at Christmas. Make sure you take time after your buffet to walk some of it off through the atrium and don't miss the overhead skywalk for the best views. We were seated at 11:00 am and left at 1:00 pm which included a walk through the atrium.
All-in-all, I will say this was a worthwhile Christmas meal for our small party. Larger parties may have to re-evaluate the cost-to-value. If I have the opportunity, I will go back next year as I would like to compare 2 visits. Even if you don't go for the buffet, everyone should see the Garden Atrium at Christmas which is open to all for free.