Mother’s Day and brunch: It’s almost a cliche. Restaurants around the country are full of families taking their hardworking moms out for French toast. But if you’d like to roll out the red carpet and go beyond the local eatery to treat Mom, we have some suggestions.
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Buffet No More
Mother’s Day and brunch: It’s almost a cliché. Restaurants around the country are full of families taking their hardworking moms out for French toast. But if you’d like to roll out the red carpet and go beyond the local eatery to treat Mom, we have some suggestions. These are not places with a Mother’s Day menu. This list is virtually buffet-free, and each location requires advance reservations, but all are well worth it so you and your mom can savor a unique meal and an experience to match.
(Our list is not ranked. The places included are wonderful but in different ways and at different price points. So try them all!)
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Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Thirty miles north of New York City and truly a world away, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is set in what was the stone dairy of the Rockefeller estate. With views over rolling fields, the locale is almost as sublime as the meal. At this Pocantico Hills, New York, bastion of farm-to-table cuisine, there are no menus; the multicourse tasting menu is based on the day’s harvest. Meat, poultry, and produce come primarily from the 80 acres of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture where the restaurant is located; others come from chef-owner Dan Barber’s family farm in Massachusetts. While it’s a magical experience any night of the week, we relish Sunday dinner here; service starts at 1pm so you can explore the Stone Barns Center, meet the chickens, and see the greenhouses before dining and savoring the views across the fields—where those carrots you’re eating came from.
Farmer's Feast; 5 courses $108, 8 courses $148, 12 courses $208.
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The Mansion at Rosewood Creek
Even at brunch, the Mansion in Dallas is a bastion of refined dining with white linens and legions of solicitous servers. The three-course menu includes chef Bruno Davaillon’s seasonal dishes (try the grilled prawns and grits), the Mansion’s famed tortilla soup, and classy takes on brunch favorites, plus there’s the out-of-this-world dessert buffet. Ask for a table on the veranda with views to the terrace and its majestic oaks.
Brunch tasting menu $49
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The Brown Palace Hotel
Taking tea and savoring scones, delicate sandwiches, and luscious cakes has been a tradition at the historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver for more than a century. And what a setting! Tea is served in the Palm Court, in the lobby of an eight-story atrium that rises to a stained-glass ceiling. A pianist or harpist plays as servers bring engraved silver teapots and fine Royal Doulton china teacups, specially commissioned for the hotel.
Signature Tea $32
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Delight mom: A generous coating of cream cheese frosting covers this tall cake. Inside are multiple layers of moist, mildly spiced cake that are flecked with carrots and pecans.
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Photography: Kreis Beall & Heather Anne Thoma6 of 12
The Barn at Blackberry Farm
Set at the foot of the Smoky Mountains in Walland, Tennessee, the Barn at Blackberry Farm might offer the ultimate farm-to-table country experience; Chef Joseph Lenn’s four-course Southern “Foothills Cuisine” comes fresh from the fields and gardens of this 4,200-acre farm and resort. The 200-year-old exposed-beam barn-turned-restaurant is the ideal setting; it’s a supremely comfortable venue, yet it adds an elegant rustic touch with antique silver, fine linens, china, and crystal on the tables that reflects the rooted quality of this gorgeous restaurant. And for the oenophile, there’s a 160,000-bottle wine cellar.
Prix fixe dinner $125, plus drinks
Photography: Rob Stark Photography7 of 12
Suzanne Goin is one of the most lauded chefs around. She has five restaurants in L.A., but Lucques, with its rustic Mediterranean food and simple, open interior, is her first and remains close to her heart. It’s where you can enjoy her celebrated cooking in a casual, almost familial atmosphere on Sundays when there’s a special weekly-changing supper menu. The three-course meal is a bargain and an incredibly delicious one at that. Though you don't have to empty your wallet to take Mom, this kind of treat is priceless.
Sunday Supper $45, plus drinks
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Though it’s been around for more than 130 years and has long been regarded as one of the New Orleans places to eat, those in the know say this landmark restaurant, owned by the Brennan family, is better than ever. (What? Even better than when Emeril cooked here?) Stop by for brunch and relish the famed turtle soup and Creole bread-pudding souffle. With a side order of trad jazz, it’s a festive meal, especially if you snag a seat in the Garden Room.
Jazz Brunch Special, $42
Photography: Justin Ide9 of 12
No. 9 Park
Elegant and intimate, this Boston restaurant is the perfect setting for chef Barbara Lynch’s refined Italian-French cuisine. Lynch is the only female Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef in the country (Chefs Thomas Keller and Joseph Lenn also hold this title), but that’s not why you should eat here. Come for the luxurious tastes and textures offered in the three-course prix fixe dinner -- dishes like sweet pea ravioli with ham hock, morels, and Parmigiano -- and the true fine-dining experience that includes warm hospitality.
Prix fixe dinner $69, plus drinks
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The French Laundry
Thomas Keller’s Yountville, California, restaurant has won just about every award a restaurant can get, and few would argue the fact that eating here is a sublime experience. Both nine-course tasting menus, the chef’s and the vegetarian options, are dazzling series of dishes where no single ingredient appears more than once. All the accolades make scoring a dinner reservation difficult. The same tasting menu is offered at lunch for the same price, but requires slightly less careful planning and allows you to soak in the Napa locale in bright sunshine.
Tasting menu $270, plus drinks, service included
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Photography: Cameron Wittig / Walker Art Cent11 of 12
Share a little cutting-edge culture with your mom by visiting the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis followed by lunch at Gather—it’s located in the museum's architecturally stunning addition. Take in the permanent collection of contemporary art or wander in the adjacent 11-acre sculpture garden to work up an appetite for lunch at this bright, lively eatery from renowned restaurateurs D'Amico and Partners. The globally inspired menu uses local ingredients in an imaginative fashion. Try the slow-cooked organic salmon with faro salad.
Lunch around $35, plus drinks
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The Drake Hotel
There’s a special Palm Court blend, one of 17 teas offered in the gilded confines of the Palm Court tearoom at this grande dame of Chicago hotels. If you can't decide, tea sommelier Shaun Rajah will advise as you recline on the comfy couches at low tables set with fine china. Servers bring tiered platters laden with crustless finger sandwiches, delicate scones with Devon cream and jam, and bonbons, and miniature desserts. Harp music is the icing on the cake.
Afternoon tea $38