Mother's Day in Los Angeles always brings the gift of good May weather, and the perennial foolproof option of a Sunday farmers' market visit followed by a home cooked meal. But here are a few other suggestions on how to treat a deserving lady right, since chances are the Huntington Tea Room is booked solid.
Downtown and Northeast:
Other than it being labeled as a Mother's Day Brunch, Palate Food + Wine bucks convention for its holiday meal. Not much talk of mimosas and roses here, although they might still be available. Think choices of crispy soft shell crab with spring succotash, oyster aioli, and guanciale; fried chicken steak with pickled green tomatoes, maple honey biscuit and gravy; branzino with fennel puree, roasted beats, citrus and pistachio aillade; braised lamb belly with artichoke gratin, pickled ramps, and fava bean pesto; and vanilla-roasted pineapple with toasted coconut and rum-raisin ice cream. Those dishes will give your group something to talk about.
Palate: 933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 662-9463.
Brunch at Descanso Gardens is the right time to let mom smell the roses, then sit, relax and eat, instead of making her ride the Enchanted Railroad for what feels like the millionth time. The spread with items such as smoked ham, free-range chicken, potato and chive tart, and fruit salad is $50 per person, $42 members, $17 kids under 12.
Descanso Gardens: 1418 Descanso Dr., La Canada Flintridge, (818) 790-3663.
Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena is well suited to the wine loving types, naturally, as well as those who prefer supper on Mother's Day. The three-course, $49 per person dinner seatings start at 4:00 p.m., and features white corn soup; arugula orange salad; sea bass with baby artichokes and a chive-laced crème fraîchel and farro risotto with asparagus and fava beans, followed by dessert. All moms are given a glass of Gruet rose champagne, too, and General Manager Manuel Mesta's wine pairings with each course are available for $26.
Vertical Wine Bistro: 70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-3999.
The highly tamed urban environment of the Blue Ribbon Garden at the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a distinctly Los Angeles setting for a Mother's Day meal. The buffet offers two seatings at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., costs $58 for adults and $15 for children under 12, plus a glass of champers for the guests of honor.
Walt Disney Concert Hall: 141 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, (213) 972-7565.
Mid-City - Hollywood
Quiet elegance, extreme care for details, highly attentive service. Those qualities make Providence a guaranteed hit. Caveat: must love seafood. Or chocolate. And have a decent budget. Reserve for the a la carte or tasting menus for dinner on May 9, or pick up a box of pastry chef Adrian Vasquez's signature Providence chocolates with Coffee Urfa, Banana-Ginger, Orange Caramel Rosemary, Baharat, and Coconut-Green Tea flavors ($28 per dozen). Or a certificate for Michael Cimarusti's next farmers' market cooking class at the restaurant on May 23 ($100) is a gift that might eventually benefit the giver. Call for details and to order.
Providence: 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 460-4170.
Rare is the customer who's come away unsatisfied from brunch at Campanile. In addition to the restaurant being open May 9 for usual daytime weekend service 9:30 a.m. through 2:30 p.m., Mark Peel is putting together a Sunday evening meal served from 5:00 until 8:30. Instead of the signature covered courtyard staying dark as per usual on Sunday nights, the restaurant will be filled with folks savoring celery root soup, bibb lettuce salad, fresh pappardelle with wild mushroom and pea tendrils, sage crusted pork loin, and vanilla crème caramel, among other dishes.
Campanile: 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 938-1447.
Tres by José Andrés tucked in the SLS Hotel lobby serves whimsy along with brunch and tea Saturday and Sunday. Chose either the $38 per person Brunch Table spread, or $48 includes a cava mimosa for which you pick the citrus juice (all moms are given one), and an a la carte menu selection. Brunch hours are 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and afternoon tea is served for $26 per from 3-5:00 p.m.
Tres by José Andrés: 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 246-5551.
A few blocks north on La Cienega at another hotel, Mother's Day at Simon L.A. brings the edible needs and wants of kids and adults close together, what with Kerry Simon's junk food platters, mini iron chef burgers, mac n' cheese, pizzas, and dessert station complete with that family favorite -- a chocolate fountain. On the other end of the spectrum, egg white veggie frittata will be available. The three-course menu costs $45 per adult, $20 kids, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Simon L.A.: 8555 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 358-3979.
Whatever debauchery that may have taken place at the W the night before will not be in evidence when Sunday rolls around. Thankfully the hotel's spaces are properly programmed to keep all activities in their discretely assigned places. Delphine started serving a full Sunday brunch several weeks ago and its patio has been open since April 17, and with proximity to Bliss Spa and The Shop at the W, this is a one-stop shopping kinda deal.
Delphine at the W: 6250 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 798-1355.
A perfect division of labor will occur at the American Tea Room in Beverly Hills, when Valerie Confections provides snacks and sweets, and the Tea Room takes care of the beverages. This Mother's Day High Tea will be the first of a regular weekend High Tea collaboration with Valerie Confections at the Canon Drive tea emporium. The $50 per person menu gets you tea sandwiches, jams, scones, chocolates and lots of other sweets, with 200+ tea options from the American Tea Room's impressive stock. Reserve via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (310) 271-7922. Also on Canon Drive, there's Enoteca Drago's three-course Italian feast for $45 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or simply order a la carte.
American Tea Room: 401 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 271-7922.
Enoteca Drago: 410 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 786-3286.
Around the corner, the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills will sample Botasea rose by Santa Barbara County's Palmina winery and donate a portion of the wine's sales to breast cancer research from noon until 5 on Mother's Day. Earlier that weekend on Friday, May 7 from 7-9:00 p.m., the Cheese Store and Teuscher Swiss Chocolates host a cocktail party, featuring wine tastings along with chocolate and cheese pairings ($50 per). RSVP email@example.com.
Cheese Store of Beverly Hills: 419 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 278-2855.
The brunch buffet at Culina in the Four Seasons on Doheny served between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. caters to the posh (or Posh?) in all of us. A bevy of food stations (meat carving, sushi, omelet, seafood, cupcakes, pastries, cookies), dim sum spread, and all the salads one would expect at a Mother's Day brunch in Beverly Hills will be set up around the hyper-stylish restaurant. The meal costs $95 per adult, $47 for children ages 5 - 12, and is free for kids under 4.
Culina, Modern Italian: 300 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 860-4000.
Points Farther West
Napa Valley Grille's cocktail cart will be making the rounds during the Mother's Day brunch in Westwood. Need we say more? OK, there's market-driven food as part of the $45 per person, four-course menu, too, served from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Executive Chef Joseph Gillard is planning an heirloom tomato style served gazpacho style, brioche griddle toast with lime curd, berries, and blood orange butter; quiche with freshwater shrimp, fromage blanc, and asparagus salad; and Amish pork belly and poached eggs with bacon gremolata, along with straightforward foods for the kids that costs $15 per.
Napa Valley Grille: 1100 Glendon Ave., Westwood; (310) 824-3322.
A Santa Monica splurge might mean making a pros and cons list about the sibling beachfront hotels Shutters on the Beach vs. Casa del Mar, since it's a tough choice, and both offer identical $65 three-course prix fixe Mother's Day specials. So it basically comes down to personal preference of 1920s Renaissance/Mediterranean Revival landmark (Casa), or Cape Cod style new but oh so classy (Shutters).
Shutters on the Beach: One Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 458-0030.
Casa del Mar: 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica; (310) 581-5533.
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Michael's in Santa Monica strikes a balance between being a classic Los Angeles establishment that remains relevant. That's a compliment most mothers wouldn't mind hearing. Plus you won't get any closer to an impressive art collection in a restaurant, save for dining facilities at LACMA. (Which, BTW, is a terrific place to spend the day, too.) The three-course Sunday brunch ($65 adults, $30 kids under 10) are appropriately seasonal, such as the half-dozen oysters; Dutch white asparagus with morels, fava beans and beurre blanc; house-cured gravlax; sugar snap pea soup; eggs benedict; blueberry pancakes; roasted Alaskan halibut; petit prime fillet; and dessert options to please vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry fans.
Michael's: 1147 Third St., Santa Monica; (310) 451-0843.
Or hit PCH and land at The Beachcomber Café at the beloved and recently rehabbed Malibu Pier, where the Mother's Day three-course prix fixe costs $34 for lunch, $42 dinner. You'll probably be too busy staring out at the ocean to notice the tomato bleu soup, crab cakes, cinnamon roll French toast, swordfish tacos, braised lamb shank, and other selections.
The Beachcomber Café: 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; (310) 456-9800.