Easter and Mother’s Day are coming. So are the requisite brunches. As a mother myself, I can safely say I don’t need just another omelet bar. What I need is some music! Some dancing! And an omelet bar! Maybe your mother feels the same way. If so, consider getting tickets for Soulful Sunday Brunch at The Rose.
The Rose is one of a collection of concert venues/eateries around Southern California, the most well-known being The Canyon out in Agoura Hills. What used to be Gelson’s Market in The Paseo is now a completely renovated performance venue dubbed, in honor of the City of Roses, The Rose.
With its enviable kitchen and state of the art sound and lighting, it translates nicely into a catering and concert facility.
Gelson’s shoppers will chuckle at the salvaged signs reading “From Our Kitchen” over the food court and “Beverages” behind the bar. Word has it that backstage there’s a sign that reads “Meat Department.”
Back when they came up with Gospel Sunday Brunch at the Original House of Blues, Rose owner Lance Sterling and emcee Sylvia St. James held strong to the motto “unity in diversity.” They wanted all sorts of people to know the pleasure of attending a Baptist church service. Here at The Rose’s Soulful Sunday Brunch, they also want people to get up and dance so they’ve added live soul and Motown music.
Each Sunday the performance is a little bit different. While advertising mentions a gospel choir and the Motown All-Star Band, the performance I was at had no choir and a band called Created Yesterday featuring a wickedly good female sax player. It felt fresh, unrehearsed, super tight and very entertaining. They bring in local church choirs when they can, and while the All-Stars are their house band, they give other seasoned vocalists and musicians a shot. The variety keeps things spontaneous and brings the regular customers back. The only constant is the stupendous, larger-than-life Miss Sylvia St. James, who keeps the entertainment moving along.
In case you’re worried about missing church at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, they throw a few prayers and “hallelujahs” at you, have you spin your white napkin for every “Amen” and get you on your feet singing spirit-lifting hymns like “This Little Light of Mine.” It may just be the most fun you’ll have while calling on the Lord. Then things segue to classics like “Chain of Fools”, “Rock Steady”, “Let’s Dance, Let’s Shout”, “Neither One of Us” and more. After singing “Happy Birthday” to Annette and Rufus and Telesita and Mildred, the show ends with a rousing rendition of — what else? — Donna Summers’ “Last Dance.”
Here’s one of my favorite moments from last Sunday. We had four beautiful women in their late 60s at our table. They all went to Muir High School together back in the 1960s and told us stories of cruising around town together in a Buick Riviera. When the band played William DeVaughn’s “Just Be Thankful for What You Got” with its chorus “diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean, wooh,” the girls were squealing with delight.
Sterling has put a good deal of energy into upping the quality of food since his days with House of Blues. Back then, they’d see vendor after vendor fail them. At The Rose, graduates from local culinary schools work alongside experienced chefs, purportedly making everything in-house. Even the boss gets involved sometimes, manning the omelet bar for the first half hour and whipping up chocolate cream for the freshly made waffles.
With all the care and attention to detail, you’d imagine the food would be fantastic. There are a few stellar items like Big Mike’s fried chicken and barbecued ribs. The buttermilk biscuits are nice and the brownies are killer. But this is a buffet and it’s hard to keep some things fresh. Maybe it’s the chafing dishes. It’s a real shame that most items are cold by the time you get to your table. It’s fine for things like wedge salad and their tasty smoked bacon but it doesn’t work so well for hush puppies, mac & cheese and scrambled eggs.
The best item at the buffet is the omelet bar. My suggestion is to tame your morning appetite and wait in this line first. It moves surprisingly fast and the omelet is made to your specifications. Take it straight to your table to eat piping hot. Then you can go back and try the other items. Don’t worry, they won’t run out of food. They were putting leftovers away after the show began (when serving stops).
There’s something special about the whole experience of Soulful Sunday Brunch. The food, the music, the performers and all the happy, singing and dancing people of every gender, age and color come together in a bit of a magical way inspiring each person there to just be thankful for what they got. To me, that’s a perfect way to spend Easter or Mother’s Day.
Soulful Sunday Brunch starts at 10 a.m. most Sundays with the performance starting around 11:15. On Easter and Mother’s Day, a 3 p.m. brunch is being added. Pre-selected seats can be purchased for $58 (on the dance floor) or $29 (off the dance floor) at roseconcerts.com. Groupon and Goldstar currently offer discounts. Ticket price includes buffet brunch, coffee and show. Cocktail table service available.
The Rose | Soulful Sunday Brunch
245 E. Green St., Pasadena | (888) 645-5006 | roseconcerts.com | Alcohol/Major Cards