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Apr 27, 2012 06:14 AM

A "safe" place to brunch on Mother's Day (without Ma'!)

As fortune would have it, I'll be by myself in Manhattan for Mother's Day weekend & will still need to eat on Sunday, despite generally avoiding restaurants on this holiday (á la New Year's & Valentine's). Might someone recommend someplace vaguely "upscale" for a lunchy brunch (or just straight-up lunch) that won't necessarily be a madhouse? Keeping in mind that "upscale" is probably what most people will be doing with Mom, I am certainly willing to concede some refinement level in exchange for a little more relative (I do understand that every Sunday is a bit of a Brunch Holiday in NYC) peace. And yes, I am fully aware that I made an extremely similar post eight months ago, minus the Mother's Day qualifier - the critical element in my new plea. Thank you!

(Will be leaving the city via Grand Central, midtown options a plus, but part of my fun when visiting is the walking & subway! Tx!)

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  1. Per Se (the Salon)
    Momofuku Ko

    A check of OpenTable reveals that some restaurants which are usually not open on Sundays for lunch WILL be serving on 5/13!

    I saw openings at:
    Cafe Boulud
    Del Posto
    Jean Georges
    The Modern

    Book with haste!

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Although those are all fantastic places to dine, Im pretty sure all of those places are going to be madhouses which is what the OP is looking to avoid. They may still have a few tables right now, but on mothers day you can bet they are going to be packed, its the busiest restaurant day of the year.

      So to answer the OP, good luck in your search. I dont hold much hope for you being able to find a great restaurant for lunch on mothers day that isnt packed!

    2. Hi Brett,

      I know you loved Tocqueville. Though they are normally closed on Sundays, they will be serving a Mother's Day brunch.

      However, if you'd rather not repeat, you should consider going to NoMad, the new restaurant recently opened by EMP's Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. It's located in the new boutique hotel of the same name, on B'way, b/t 27th & 28th -- a nice walk from G.C. (or, if the weather is stinky, take the 6 to the 28th St. stop). OpenTable is showing lots of availability on Mother's Day.

      8 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Thank you both! I will be having lunch at The Modern - Bar Room and dinner at Aquavit on Saturday & Bouley was a fantastic lunch "steal" on my last visit, in March. I went ahead and made a rez at [The?] NoMad (apparently not to be confused with Nomad, of the Village) and am incredibly excited. I'm still feeling quite hip from checking out a still relatively new Jung Sik last December, thanks to tips from this board, and look forward to continuing to be such an avant-garde diner thanks to y'all (I'm barely exaggerating!)!
        P.S. RGR, If you told me there was a wonderful seafood restaurant at the bottom of the East River, I'd pack scuba gear for my next trip. You are, as my nephew would say, "the bomb". Tx!

        1. re: BrettLove

          After finding & taking a closer look at a NoMad menu, I decided that it "felt" an awful lot like the menu at The Modern (Bar Room) and have made plans to venture into the potential belly of the Mother's Day beast in Lincoln Center's eponymous Ristorante. Their brunch menu looked good (and totally "lunchy") to me, and if it's indeed priced at $32, will provide a bit of "fiscal relief" after I attack The Modern Barroom's á la carte menu on Saturday. Thanks again.

          1. re: BrettLove


            First, (she said, blushing), your compliment is so flattering that a simple "Thank you!" is totally inadequate. :)

            Other than the fact that the food at The NoMad and in the Bar Room is French, imo, the styles are entirely different. However, if you prefer to do a different cuisine, i.e., Italian, Lincoln is a fine choice. The food we've had there has been delicious though, to be honest, I don't love the ambiance. If the $32 prix-fixe is a big draw for you, I suggest you contact the restaurant to be sure it will be available on Mother's Day since many restaurants have special menus for that day and, often, increased prices. In other words: Caveat emptor!


            1. re: RGR

              While the $32 is def'ly part of the draw, it's not a huge reason. Unusual however (for me), in that I do have a fairly "hard" budget for my Sunday afternoon meal at $100, pre-tax/tip. I'm trying a little bit to break out of my "French/French-American comfort zone" and try to force myself into dabbling in "other" cuisines when I go out, but at the end of the day, "French/French-American" is generally what piques my interest. As part of my efforts to branch out, I actually had originally made a rez at Marea, but (in a good example of your recommendations, or lack thereof, assisting/influencing me without your direct knowledge) cancelled after reading the opinion of a poster who's taste I hold in very high esteem. So, Lincoln Ristorante does indeed interest and intrigue me, but perhaps just not quite as much as Chef Humm's new venture at the NoMad Hotel. I'd be a bit concerned in my ability to keep my tab at NoMad below $100 though. Would 2 app's, an entree & dessert satisfy me? (Rhetorically, as well as a legit question!). At $32 (and I did call to double-check, thanks), I could double up the Ristorante brunch for $64 and do antipasto, pasta, fish entree, meat entree (asked about doing that, too) and still have plenty of wiggle room for dessert. I'm rather torn, I must say.

              FWIW, in my 4 recent trips I've had the pleasure of trying (in most cases, at least in part, thanks to feedback from you on this site); Tocqueville, Jung Sik, Union Sq. Cafe, Ma Peche, Aldea, Seasonal Weinbar, Bouley, Boulud Sud, and to a lesser extent (for snacks, breakfast, quick bite); Luke's Lobster, John Dory Oyster Bar, Wall & Water and Norma's (the last 2 being hotel restaurants of little consequence, but I felt were decent enough to be worth mentioning - not destinations, per se, but I've sure had worse hotel food). There was a minor glitch (or two) at Bouley, for lunch, and another couple of "issues" when I dined at Boulud Sud. All in all though, just a delightful, wonderful, "great-to-be-alive" time for me, each time I'm in your fair town. Thanks to you, and the rest of the 'Hounds, for being such a pricelessly valuable resource to me.

              1. re: BrettLove


                Have you seen these photos of the most recent dinner Mr. R. and I had at The NoMad?


                Portion sizes are quite generous. Plus, they give you a whole flatbread which they will happily replenish, if you wish. So, two apps, a main, and dessert should be more than adequate to satisfy you.

                Interesting that you've chosen Lincoln as the place to break out of your French comfort zone. While it is considered an Italian restaurant, frankly, I've had dishes there that could easily be found on a French or Contemporary American menu. This duck dish (despite being labeled in Italian) is a good example:


                In any case, $64 + $10 for dessert sounds like a really good deal.


                1. re: RGR

                  After all that, I've settled on NoMad. Forgive me if I was defiantly attempting to assuage my Franco-American guilt, in turning right around after your lovely recommendation and declaring I'd be having "Italian" at Lincoln instead! Interesting indeed though, that I would've selected the Italian rest. that closely resembled French for my "break with custom". I think I'd like to try Lincoln on a non-brunch date & time in the future. Part of my "issue" with Italian, I think, is that despite not being Ital.-Am. I grew up in a very Italian area, so "that's what we (and Mom) cook" - although obviously not at a professional level. I will start branching out soon however. Just not on this trip! Your photos were sheer torture, as always! Absolutely brutal, inhumane torture! I can't wait. Thanks again.

                  1. re: BrettLove



                    I was not able to take photos the first time we ate at NoMad and had the tasting menu. However, dear friends of ours had almost the same menu when they went, and Jose takes photos that are far, far superior to mine. The differences: our main was steak for two while theirs was rack of lamb (which, honestly, I would have preferred); we had a cheese course, which they didn't; and they had two desserts while we had just one (the rhubarb crumble). So, to further "torture" you... :))


                    There's a very good chance we'll be eating at NoMad again before the weekend you are here, so more photos to come.


                    1. re: RGR

                      "far, far superior"

                      How terribly modest. I'm hardly an authority, but... I won't patronize you with hyperbole. Your photos totally rock though.
                      I look forward to more NoMad pictures from you before I go, they seem to be at a premium, generally speaking. If the menus I saw on the internet are any indication, the "snacks" portion (I got a little excited about the radishes w/butter) of the menu isn't available at lunch. I presume your visits were for dinner only.

      2. If you want a guarantee of zero Mother's Day vibe that will be "upscale", you should try for a reservation at Momofuku Ko. It is pricey ($175), but it is great food served in about 16 courses that takes about 3 hours. BTW, the stools now have padding (although I never found the non-padded stools to be uncomfortable).

        1. My most successful way to avoid Mom's Day madness is picking a restaurant in the West Village, an area with a high gay male demographic. Few moms, few kids, no muss, no fuss.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Rmis32

            I like your train of thought. Thanks for the insight!

            1. re: BrettLove

              Be careful of that logic. Gay men (at least) tend to take Mother's Day very seriously. I remember Chelsea restaurants just packed with middle aged gay men and their mothers.

              1. re: bobjbkln

                In addition, there are many young straight couples with families in the West Village.

                1. re: H Manning

                  Appreciating one's train of thought and following the path of one's logic aren't always interdependent, but good-lookin'-out nonetheless!

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