Barely a handful of other restaurants have views that spectacular. Benton's Chop House is one, as is Skies, the revolving restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency Hotel (2345 McGee).
Now that it's more than 21 years old -- middle-aged, by restaurant standards -- Skies is due for a face-lift. A half-million-dollar face-lift, according to the Hyatt's food and beverage director, Nassy Saidian, who says that if all goes according to plan, Skies will close for two weeks in late December or January for a major renovation: expanding the seating area, adding a bar, changing the carpet and color scheme and "making the restaurant more modern and up to date.
"We had a soft renovation four years ago," Saidian adds, "but unless you paid a lot of attention to the restaurant, you probably didn't notice that we added black marble to the foyer or retinted the windows or updated the lighting. This will be a very serious renovation. And I'm ecstatic about it."
The menu will change a bit too, he says. That's because Skies fans aren't worried about the restaurant's evolving, unlike diners who love its sister restaurant downstairs, the Peppercorn Duck Club. "The customers complain loudly if we change anything there," Saidain says, "so we don't."
One change Saidian did make last year, however, was ending the Peppercorn's Sunday brunch. "Our clientele just wasn't that interested in brunch anymore," he says.
Another popular hotel brunch also has vanished: the lavish Sunday affair at Remington's, in the Adam's Mark Hotel (9103 E. 39th Street).
"We ended it in April," says Tom Williams, food and beverage director for the hotel. "It used to be that our Sunday brunch was a big event before a game at the stadiums. But how can we compete with the inexpensive buffets at the casinos?"
Williams says the menu will soon change at Remington's, where Vietnam-born chef Cunong Bui oversees the kitchen. "We're definitely going to hold our own in the upscale-steakhouse market, serving the best hardwood-grilled steaks and bigger cuts of meat," Williams says.
Saidian says the casino buffets had nothing to do with the demise of the Peppercorn Duck Club's Sunday brunch. "We're talking two very different kinds of clientele," he says.
Sunday brunch is still popular at Stephenson's Old Apple Farm Restaurant (16401 E. 40 Highway), where the brunch crowd sits in the private dining rooms upstairs and grazes from steam tables laden with home-style beef brisket, chicken, a dry egg casserole, biscuits and long-congealed gravy, hot rolls, sugary fritters, salads and two kinds of cobbler.
"It's a country kind of buffet," says my frequent brunch companion, Bob, who loved everything about it and loaded several plates with food, which he polished off with gusto. I would have preferred sitting downstairs in one of the themed dining rooms and ordering off of the menu. But according to Bob's logic, that would have defied the only reason for going out for brunch.
"Brunch," he says, "means a big buffet and eating a lot."