Brunch was a day at the beach...

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   The Beach House Restaurant on Nathan Ellis Highway in North Falmouth.

Many of us have been there.  While trekking down I-95 to a sunny southern destination during vacation week, we get drawn in by the signs and billboards along the highway. The siren-like placards tell a tale of delicious, piping hot food from nations all over the globe, for a price so affordable you can invite the minivan next door to join you.  You find such a place in some dingy Connecticut village, and leave disappointed, unsatisfied, and full of gas (not in your car, I might add.) The food, from Italy, China, the U.S., and some un-named nation, all tasted the same, except for the chocolate pudding, which you didn't try because there were bugs in it. 

Given this true-to-life scenario, who would not be weary of a sumptuous brunch buffet for $9.95? Well, report cards came out last week, and since the kids both did well, my wife and I decided to treat them to brunch on Sunday.  The Beach House restaurant in North Falmouth has been advertising just such a treat so we gave it a try.  I am glad we did.

The location is familiar and conjures up fond memories: The large blue Cape-style buidling is a near-landmark at the corner of Routes 28A and 151 in North Falmouth; I had the pleasure of bartending there for years in the mid-90s when it was the Willowfield Tavern.  My shift was once weekly on Sundays.  I got to enjoy the brunch, then spend the afternoon watching the Sox or Patriots while serving burgers and drinks and socializing.  I even got to dance on the bar the night it closed.  The location then became Jillian's the long-standing successful brain child of local culinary star Rich Davis.

These days, the Beach House is still operated as a family-friendly restaurant, with an affordable but varied menu.  It is owned by a trio of locals, including Karen Murphy of Shucker's fame, who doubles as the wife of my former colleague  Selectman Kevin Murphy.

I'm sure that Karen is indeed proud of the offering on Sunday mornings.  Prepared for a decent meal but not expecting anything spectacular for less than $10 per person, I and my family were surprised at both the variety and quality of the many choices of the buffet set in the comfortable large dining room.  From freshly made pastry breads and do-it-yourself toasting to fresh fruit and caesar salads, the meal started off right. We then migrated to the hot offerings, each trying a different combo to fill our plates, and all pleased with the result. The eggs were piping hot, light, fluffy and flavorful, accompanied by crisp but not-overdone bacon and juciy sausage, both near-miraculous feats in a buffet.

My daughters, whose food favorites are as different as Tracey and Link in "Hairspray," were both smiling and satisfied.  Jenna enjoyed the french toast sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, while Sydney happily sampled the roasted turkey carved while-you-wait and a bountiful helping of fresh fruit. All of us enjoyed the home fried potatoes, which had just enough peppers and onions to flavor them, but not so many to command the scene.  My wife, who is restricted to a gluten-free diet these days, had plenty of delicious choices.

My favorite at any brunch is always the eggs benedict, and these did not disappoint.  Although they could have been hotter, they were cooked just right as the yolk let forth just enough juice to soften up the muffin and create a wonderful melange of morning flavors. 

All in our party agreed, though, that the $9.95 price tag was worth it alone for the carving station of roast beef and the aforementioned turkey.  This was, by far, the best beef I have tasted in many moons.  We had the good fortune of sampling the sizzling main course  right out of the kitchen.  It was juicy, cooked to perfection (if you like medium-rare), and had a delightful crusting of garlic and spices on top.  Jenna and I both went back more than once for this delectable treat.  I would return again and again just to sample this buffet headliner.

Dining out and dining well need not always be an expensive proposition.  The brunch at the Beach House is a tasty testament to this.  It also proves that you don't have to travel far to have an enjoyable and delicious meal in a comfortable setting.  Speaking of comfortable, the experience was topped off nicely with a staff that was efficient and friendly. 

You don't need to wait until the next report cards come out to treat the family or yourself to this weekend food find.  No reservations needed, either, just watch out for the big guy (me) hovering over the roast beef.

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