Back in the days when restaurants were a taken-for-granted part of American life, in the time when there were countless eating-out options, Mother’s Day was the busiest day of the year.
This year will be different.
Mom will have to be feted at home, socially distanced from family, with a home-cooked meal. It might be brunch or dinner. Either way, I have a vision of lots of husbands in aprons, standing at the stove.
Restaurants are ready to help. For Mother’s Day, bring-home menus, ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook, go above and beyond the usual offerings. Chefs and managers are doing what they can to maintain the traditions of the day.
If brunch is the plan, chef Roland Olah at Bruxelles Brasserie in SoNo has put together a special menu. Quiche, croque monsieur, eggs, french toast or avocado toast are offered for pick-up on Sunday ready for the celebration.
Chef Renato Donzelli at Basso Cafe in Norwalk is honoring moms with a spring-inspired menu. Ready-to-eat main courses include spring pea carbonara, ricotta ravioli with lobster sauce, and seared Alaska salmon. Or maybe you only want some of his trademark blueberry or strawberry scones. Ordering in advance (203) 354 6566 is always a good idea.
If you’re fixing the brunch from scratch, some exceptional pastries should be the centerpiece of the menu.
Cafe Dolce (345 Main Ave, Norwalk) has a selection of irresistible European-style pastries made in-house. Their croissants are crisp and flaky and the plate-sized danish seductive. For dessert the cakes and strudels are the real deal. Make sure to try a few of the Hungarian specialties too. I’d lay in a supply the day before, just to be safe.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the SoNo Baking Company has reopened their Water Street location for take-out only. The homestyle cinnamon rolls are worth the trip, but don’t leave without some croissants or cakes. It’s best to order in advance.
To accompany the pastries, all you need for a fancy brunch are some slow-simmered poached eggs topped with hollandaise, crisp bacon, and fresh berries.
If kids are fixing mom’s brunch, then pancakes or waffles are the way to go. If, like me, you’ve been experimenting with sourdough starter, this is the time to use it. Try this recipe from King Arthur Flour for great flavor and crisp edges. Just remember to start the batter the night before.
Offering a choice of either brunch or dinner, Match in SoNo has three Mother’s Day options. A lavish brunch buffet at home includes smoked fish, mini H&H Bagels, bacon, cream cheese, and sides, plus chef Matt Storch’s famous onions and eggs kit. The buffet, capped off with cinnamon-sugar-doughnut muffins, generously serves four for $175. Add some caviar if you want to go all out.
Mother’s Day dinner is a little more of an occasion. There are lots of ways to put this together, either ready to eat, or cook-at-home.
Kick off the summer seafood season with a lobster boil from Match. Clams, oysters, lobsters, sausage, corn, and potatoes bagged up for an easy boil come with salad and strawberry rhubarb crisp ($199). A prime rib roast comes with all the fixins including chilled pea soup and chocolate cake ($225). Both dinner menus serve four.
The Water’s Edge in Darien has put together a selection of their steakhouse favorites in a complete dinner bundle that serves four. Chateaubriand, prime rib, salmon or surf and turf are the centerpieces of complete dinners that serve four priced from $95 to $140. Pick up on either Saturday or Sunday.
Cedar planked salmon or standing rib roast are the choices at The GrayBarns Tavern Mother’s Day dinner kit that serves four ($225). The complete dinner includes fresh pasta with basil pesto, roasted broccoli and almonds, leaf salad with goat cheese, and cheesecake with macerated strawberries for dessert.
At Copps Island Oysters, 7 Edgewater Place in Norwalk, local oysters and clams are available for dockside pick-up. Don’t want to shuck you own? Order some “Copps Rocks” or “Copps Casino,” their version of the classic recipes ($15 for 6) with a call to 203-866-7546. They also have live lobsters right out of the tank. All you’ll need is a big pot, lemon, melted butter, and a bottle of chardonnay for a memorable Mother’s Day seafood feast.
Like everything else, Mother’s Day will be different this year. Next year we’ll be celebrating at our favorite restaurants again. In the meantime, local operators are doing their best to make the day special.
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.