Water gently splashing into a marble basin, light filtering in through high windows, starched white tablecloths and places set just so amid sculptures and bountiful green plants — the Piper Palm House is so elegant that it nearly verges into cartoonishness. Nearly. Brunch (served buffet style, $21.50 adults, $9.95 kids ten and under) brings an astonishing bounty, and not in the way of too many buffets, the ones that just pile dish after dish on groaning tables. It's possible for someone with a hearty appetite to at least try every carefully chosen thing offered at Café Madeleine (including, of course, the classic scallop shell-shaped French cake that is its namesake). Service is attentive but not hovering. Though there are a limited number of tables, there never seems to be a push to move people who like to linger over their endive salads, smoked salmon and made-to-order omelets. This ain't eggs-Benedict-in-a-chafing-dish brunch. This is pagan-priests-serving- mysterious-gods-in-dime-store-adventure-novels brunch. Café Madeleine is a temple to the brunch-ian cause, graced with light from all around, even on rainy days.
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