J. Liu Restaurant
This restaurant always gets a lot of votes in the "fancy family dining" category of Columbus Parent's annual "Best of Columbus" survey so I figured it was time we checked it out. We opted for Sunday brunch at the smaller Dublin location, though the Worthington one is also popular. It's been a while since we brunched as a family, but I took it as a good sign when we walked in and saw plenty of families with children (all of them well behaved, thankfully!).
As could be expected, there was a wealth of food options beginning with a nice little scorecard on the table that you could fill out to get the omelet of your own design. The one my husband got was expertly done. As for the buffet itself, it's a fascinating mixture of cuisines. J. Liu is known for its unusual blend of Asian and Italian cuisine (on its menu as separate items, not single dishes…although my son did his own blending with happy results - see his review). From the buffet, I found myself gravitating toward the Asian (loved the crab Rangoon), the Cajun (a nicely zingy shrimp and grits) and their house strawberry-pecan salad. There were also standard breakfast items like waffles, pancakes and pastries available, but I saved my appetite for things I wasn't going to make at home. I did try the more dinner-like Italian items, but found the pasta didn't hold up too well in a heating pan. But I did enjoy the finger-food-sized servings of desserts (though the friendly waitress clued me in that they are not made in-house: no matter, they were yummy).
The women's bathroom apparently was a lot larger than the men's (again, see his review) but, given how nicely decorated the dining area is, I was expecting something a little more ritzy from the bathroom. But the diaper-changing station had plenty of room.
For the price ($17.99 for ages 13+ and $9.99 for 12 and under, beverages not included), J. Liu's struck me as a very reasonable value for a special family brunch (though I learned prices do rise a few dollars for holiday brunches) and it would be a nice way to introduce kids to this dining-out tradition.
By now I've learned to expect anything with restaurants unless they have a specific style of food like Chinese or Italian, for example. Although J. Liu was a lot fancier than I had expected, I was happy that there was a buffet rather than ordering food off a menu. All the food looked really good and I guess I prefer a buffet when it comes to restaurant food. It's because when you order something off a menu, usually you can only order one thing, but with a buffet you can get a little bit of everything.
I thought J. Liu's buffet was really good because there was a lot of food there and it was well done. It surprised me that it had a mixture of Italian and Asian food, though I don't think I tried any of the Italian food. I did try their fruit salad, their sausage and General Tso's Chicken, which I had to go back and get more of. I also figured out that sausage in General Tso's sauce tastes really good.
I did not try any of the desserts, strangely enough to say, because I was too full of chicken. I didn't even try the prime rib carving station, even though I was planning on it, because that chicken was so good.
The service was all really nice. The men's bathroom was small. It did have a diaper-changing station but it was small. It had one sink, one urinal and one toilet and that was it. They had a live jazz band playing during brunch. I liked the music except for one song that got a bit annoying.
I would go back. It feels like something you can do for a special occasion but it doesn't necessarily have to be for a special occasion.