Buffet plate at Captain's Quarters

Sunday brunch tough choice at Captain’s Quarters

Ahh, Captain’s Quarters! From its striking ski-lodge-style wood and glass building to the decks that ramble over its scenic riverfront slope just up the Ohio at Harrods Creek, within skyline’s view of downtown Louisville, what’s not to like?

“CQ” would be wildly popular, I believe, for its ambience and view alone, particularly in sultry summer time, even if its facilities were far more spartan and its food service limited to snacks, burgers and fried fish. (Indeed, this pretty much describes the CQ that many local folks – older ones, anyway – remember from as far back as the ’70s.)

For many years, though, and in recent years owned by members of the Masterson family, Captain’s Quarters scores not only for its amiable setting and river view but as a decent destination for fine food and drink in its own right. No doubt that is why its oversize parking lot is almost always packed, and it’s rare to find the house much less than full.

I particularly recommend spending a lazy, hazy day of summer out here – doubly so now that our city parents have wisely decided to allow the sale of adult beverages with brunch as early as 10 a.m. – but I have to warn you that Sundays at CQ confront the eager diner with an almost intractable dilemma:

Do we order from the menu, or do we hit the brunch tables?

Well, the menu is mighty appealing, broad-ranging and diverse. An appetizing selection of appetizers could serve as a collection of small plates for grazing, priced to sell from $8 (for several delights such as smoked salmon flatbread, green-chile wontons kicked up with jalapeños, fried banana peppers or three variations on wings) to $13 (for a sushi-grade ahi tuna tataki, a seviche-meets-sashimi plate). There’s also clam chowder ($5 for a cup, $6 for a bowl) or a half-dozen salads.

About eight sandwich options are $8 (for several choices) to $14 (for an ahi tuna “burger,” a rare tuna steak on a brioche bun with arugula, tomato and zippy wasabi aioli. Finally, you can take your choice among four single-size pizzas, $11 each.

More than half the main dishes feature seafood, with steak, chicken and pasta dishes comprising the rest. Mains range from $9 (for a buffalo chicken quesadilla) to $29 (for an 8-ounce filet mignon with fries). CQ’s adult-beverages program offers a well-chosen, broad selection of beer, wine and cocktails.

Good stuff! But then the buffet beckons. The lavish spread is $18.95 for adults, $9.95 for those under 12, and it’s well-curated, pans kept sizzling, fresh and well-stocked. We took a look at the menus, then headed straight for the buffet.

We tried a little of just about everything. Start with creamy, light scrambled eggs, then grab a lofty, light biscuit (and sawmill gravy if you like), and your choice of crispy bacon, sausage links, creamy potato salad with bits of ham, and roasted red potatoes.

Next table over offers crisp-fried chicken, Asian-accented pork tenderloin slices, and country-style veggies. Busy chefs will make you an omelet or fat Belgian waffle, or carve slices of juicy roast beef.

Don’t miss the dessert table in the corner, if you have room, for your choice of key lime or pecan pie or cheesecake or trademarked Derby-Pie.

Our buffet was a reasonable $40.17 for two. Even at a buffet, quick and courteous table service with frequent refills earned a 20 percent tip.

Captain’s Quarters
5700 Captain’s Quarters Road