The House of Blues has been rockin’ the stage with a Sunday Gospel Brunch since the flagship location opened its doors in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in November of 1992.
Gospel Star and Grammy Award winning performer Kirk Franklin has been working closely with the House of Blues to hand select gospel performers and song sets at each location; making the show somewhat personalized to each House of Blues venue (FYI: Disney World’s House of Blues Gospel Brunch is available Sundays at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM!).
And with the new shows come new menu items, too! The Kirk Franklin Gospel Brunch debuted on Mother’s Day and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend with my family.
Located in the heart of Downtown Disney next to Tortilla Jo’s and across from Ralph Brennen’s Jazz Kitchen, The House of Blues, Anaheim, is a two story venue that features table service meals as well as concerts; sometimes simultaneously. Today I will be sharing solely about the Gospel Brunch. But not to worry, I plan to go back for a review of the “regular” menu in the near future (and AJ has a review coming up soon of the new menu at Disney World’s House of Blues)!
Sunday brunch at the Anaheim location is offered at both 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. When you arrive at the podium, simply let the host/hostess know you are there for the Gospel Brunch. Depending on how close to your brunch time it is, you will be asked to either step aside and wait there for a few moments or be told to head up the stairs for a drink while you wait for the doors to open.
If you are asked to go upstairs, there will be beverages awaiting you. Coffee, tea, and orange juice were complementary.
But if you are looking for an adult beverage such as a mimosa or bloody mary, hold your horses for a few because there is something inside that might just knock your socks off. If you can’t wait until you get inside for an adult beverage, there is a full bar in this waiting area.
While you’re waiting you can check out some of the kitschy decor. I loved these brightly painted bottles that lined the top of the bar.
You can also kill time playing with the signature fans they pass out to you (which is exactly what my boys did). AND by the way, they pass them out for a reason: it’s a bit warm inside the venue. I noticed it was much hotter downstairs where most of the bodies were than upstairs in the balcony where we sat.
When the doors “officially” open, there are several hosts and hostesses that will explain to your group how the brunch works. You’ll be given you a tour of the buffet and will then be shown to your seats. Seating options will depend on your party size. Much of the seating is “family” style at several long tables, which are located on the first floor directly in front of the stage.
There are also “bar” type seats located around the room of the whole first floor. These are good for small parties of two or three, but to me, it seemed like much more than that would make it hard to be able to chat with your party.
The upstairs balcony, where we were seated, consisted of small tables as well as the same bar type seating as downstairs surrounding the balcony so that you were looking down on the stage.
The photo below is pretty grainy (sorry, my fault) but it gives you an idea of the small tables where we were seated. It was absolutely perfect for my family of four.
We had two of the small table tops that were scooted together. I LOVED the balcony seating for a few reasons: 1) The air seemed cooler up there, 2) Much more mellow, & 3) A great view.
This is a view of the stage from the balcony bar seating. I thought it was perfect.
Now that you know your seating options, let’s jump right into the food!
After your host/hostess shows you to your seats, you are free to start filling yourself with yummy goodness from around the room.
The buffet is set up downstairs on either side of the stage and family style seating. What I love about the buffet set up is that it is divided into several stations – even more so than other buffets that I’ve been to. The stations were small and organized, making it easy to get food and not have to wait forever in long lines.
The “main” breakfast food type area had the longest line, which I believe is due to the fact that it’s the first food station you see when you walk into the room. If the line looks long, hit another station first and come back to this one. This station is where you can pick up your typical breakfast favorites including baked goods, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, french toast, etc. Although I didn’t have the stomach to sample everything, I did manage to get a wide variety of items and have no complaints!
The Baked Goods consisted of various muffins and bagels. There were several to choose from including blueberry and poppy seed muffins (see photo above) as well as bagels in plain, garlic, and raisin.
Next up was a gorgeous variety of fresh fruit. It was presented beautifully and even my husband noted how sweet and fresh the fruit platter was. I had some pineapple and some watermelon. It tasted just as fresh as it looked.
Make sure to get lots of fruit on your plate to balance out the next item. Sticky Buns! The Sticky Buns were so photogenic, almost like artwork. But I am sad to say that they were a little dry.
I know they are different from a cinnamon roll, but with a little (or a LOT) of frosting added they would have been amazing. Still completely beautiful though!
Next to the Sticky Buns, we’ve got Scrambled Eggs paired with Bananas Foster French Toast. The scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection; fluffy and flavorful.
The Bananas Foster French Toast was a huge hit with my family. Sweet caramel flavor with a hint of banana, it was basically dessert!
The hash browns were nicely seasoned and I loved the addition of the red and green bell peppers.
The last item in this section is the bacon and sausage stop. Here is where you’d find my kids; stacking their plates sky high with crispy bacon and sausage links.
The next closest buffet station featured BBQ Chicken, Sauteed Veggies, and Mac n’ Cheese. I didn’t try the BBQ Chicken, but it looked great!
The Veggies and Mac n’ Cheese were both amazing.
The Mac n’ Cheese, though, was so special that it deserves its own photo. Large, cooked to perfection elbow noodles were creamy but not too rich, cheesy but not to strong. This dish was my absolute favorite. Love, love, loved it.
This station also had a Jambalaya, but with the red heat lamp I couldn’t get a photo that justified its beauty. You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!
Beside the glorious Mac n’ Cheese table, there was a small salad bar with three types of salad-ish dishes: Caesar Salad, Shrimp Cocktail, and a Greek Salad.
Next up is the carving station. Here you will find an adorable meat carver ready to serve you your choice of turkey breast, beef brisket, or both! This table also had an assortment of condiments such as Honey Mustard and if you want to make yourself a little meat sandwich there were fresh dinner rolls here as well!
To the left of the carving station you will find a made to order omelet station. Here, you can build the perfect omelet using ingredients such as sausage, bacon, cheese, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and more.
My favorite station was the Chicken and Waffles station. Endless fried chicken strips and mini Belgium style waffles that are made right before your eyes.
The fried chicken strips were the perfect mini size to go with the mini Belgium waffles. Tender white chicken breast centers with a crispy fried outer layer. I smothered mine in Maple Syrup!
At the Chicken and Waffles station you have multiple options for toppings. Choose from Maple Syrup, Housemade Buffalo Sauce, or Country Gravy to customize your plate of fabulousness. If you aren’t in the mood for savory, grab some fresh strawberries and whipped cream to top your waffles.
At the Chicken and Waffles Station you can also pick up some fresh biscuits, which I did, and smother them with gravy to make a side order of delicious biscuits and gravy.
The final food station is the Dessert Table. Here you’ll run into several fantastic treats. From Mini Key Lime Pies, to Red Velvet Cupcakes, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, and Bread Pudding, you’ll easily find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I tried three of the items on the table: the Mini Key Lime Pies, the Bread Pudding and the Carrot Cake. My very favorite though, was the Mini Key Lime Pie. Tart lime filling topped with sweet cream, garnished with a little jelly lime candy, it was the perfect little treat after stuffing myself with the buffet items.
The Bread Pudding was also really great; moist and sweet, my whole family really enjoyed this one.
The Carrot Cake was also tasty and I appreciated that the cake to frosting ratio was perfect!
Adult Beverage Options
Remember how I told you to wait for your adult beverages until you got inside? Well, here’s that thing that I told you would knock your socks off.
For an extra fee, you can visit the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. Select your vodka and Bloody Mary mix, then choose from several different condiments to build your drink to your liking. There are two types of hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, A-1 Sauce, a variety of olives, celery, okra, peppers, limes, and more. This my friends, is a genius idea.
The Bloody Mary Bar is definitely a hit with the crowd. The bartender was busy every time I looked his way.
Not a Bloody Mary fan? No worries. The full bar serves all that and then some; including some old school classics with a twist.
Now that we’re fed and full, let’s talk entertainment.
The Gospel Show starts one hour into the brunch and closes out the event after one hour of performing. If you still have room, the food stations remain open, so keep on keepin’ on if you need to. My family and I were stuffed, so we found some stools with a great view (you can move around to empty seats in the balcony if they are available) to take in the show.
The show starts off with a video intro by Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer and brunch namesake, Kirk Franklin.
When Kirk is done speaking, the curtains open and appearing on stage are the gospel group Tony Jones & Emerge. Full of energy and tons of talent, this amazing group of men and women will have you clapping and singing along within minutes.
The set list consisted of several songs, but my favorite was a fun version of Lean on Me originally performed by Bill Withers. Tony Jones & Emerge had the whole house singing along with them.
Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch is only offered on Sundays, and depending on the location, it varies how often (some only offer Sunday Brunch every two weeks). Times vary per venue as well. Some offer two time slots each Sunday while others have just a 10:00 show. You can find a complete schedule for all House of Blues locations here.
The brunch is a two hour experience, and closes with a one hour long gospel performance. It’s an all ages event costing $18.50 for children ages 3-9 and $40 for anyone 10 and up. Children under the age of 3 are free. The event often sells out. I strongly recommend purchasing your tickets far in advance, especially if you have a large party and want to sit together. Tickets for the Anaheim House of Blues can be purchased here.
A portion of the proceeds from the Gospel Brunch goes to The International House of Blues Foundation, which supports youth music and arts programs. So… buy some tickets, eat some great food, have some fun all the while supporting a great youth music and art program. Sounds good to me!
I can definitely recommend Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues. My whole family enjoyed the show (even my almost too cool for everything, soon to be 12 year old). I think it’s a great event to attend for a special occasion, birthday, family get together, Father’s Day (just around the corner!), etc. And I think it would be really fun to go with a big group. The food was definitely on par and there was something for everyone; very family friendly. Pretty sure my kids ate their weight in bacon. Buffets can often be hit or miss. This one was a hit!
Have you attended the House of Blues Gospel Brunch? What did you think? Do you plan to check out the new Kirk Franklin one? Let us know in the comments below.
A big thank you to The House of Blues for inviting my family and me to spend Mother’s Day at the Kirk Franklin Gospel Brunch. For more information on visiting the House of Blues, take a peek at their site here.