My dream of Mother's Day brunch out was not what I expected. If I had asked some friends, I would have stayed put in my nest. Don't get me wrong, there were many fantastic parts of my day, especially the 3 gifts of affection, affirmation, and appreciation in very tangible form--loving letters from my 3 sons. It's just that the grand meal (grand mal?) at noon may need some tweeking.
I have planned and cooked for most Mother's Days. With 2 boys and small extended families, celebrations were at our home. I tried hard to please all. Dining at a fancy restaurant for Mother's Day Brunch (MDB) became my fantasy. Dreams of perfect Eggs Benedict, good coffee in china cups, folded linen napkins, ice sculptures, live jazz, artistically prepared seafood, salads, and chocolate consumed me. No planning, no cooking, nor cleaning. There would be cake, and a smiling staff eager to please.
I would be the one fussed over, instead of fussing over everyone else. My boys would be quiet, opening their mouths only for charming smiles and comments, beaming in their color-coordinated outfits and fresh haircuts. My selfishness and pride are showing, I know.
This year, my dream of MDB at a restaurant came true. It was delightful, but not all that I had thought.
At 11:45 we arrived in front of an outdoor tent attached to the restaurant. (Ominous overflow?) We walked past 50 people after being ushered...into the tent. Our table for 8 was underneath a tall heater. One half was near an open end of the tarp, which flapped continuously on the chilliest mom's day in Chicago history. The crowd by the front door was the line to the buffet. "About 10 minutes, right?" Jim asked our waitress. "Twenty" she said. Once we reached the smallish buffet, we grabbed 2 plates fearing we wouldn't be able to go back. The boys piled their plates very high.
There was cake, but it was rum, sans icing. The food was very good, but the whole experience--well--it could definitely change next year.
It was hard to hear our family at the other end of the table. It felt too hot with the gas fire pit on, and too cold with it off. Chris got cold, and bored. I found a tiny dog cookie in the pocket of my coat, which went on as the fire went out. I asked Chris to do a trick and get the cookie, joking. Trevor told Chris to eat it, not joking. Chris chewed a bit off, then dipped the rest into mashed potatoes and ate it.
It's better when boys have a task to do after a meal, like clearing the table. It may be best to keep boys at home, even if they are high school graduates.
Home is where the heart is, and where I'd like to be next Mother's Day.
Next time I might plan a gourmet menu and serve coffee in bone china cups that my great grandmother painted. I have linen napkins and know how to fold 'em. There will be no buffet line, no wind, and lots of space to move around. It won't be too hot or too cold. It will feel just right. And Lucy, our lab, will join us under the table.
So that's the new idea for Mother's Day 2014: Brunch, love, and best wishes served up at home.
What's your Mother's Day restaurant story?
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