With Mother’s Day around the corner, we rounded up a few exemplary brunches. Not that you’ll have trouble finding a budget-friendly brunch nearby; we just wanted to give you a sense for the true variety of options—and special touches—out there, from sophisticated tasting menus to bottomless sangria to a Middle Eastern-inspired feast that basically demands Mom be reclining luxuriously as she eats. Wherever you go, book soon; there are lots of amazing New Jersey moms and seats tend to fill up.
*Where special hours and prices aren’t listed, they’re either standard or not yet available; call the restaurant and inquire when making your reservation.
If Mom’s looking to do more than toast mimosas over a plate of scones this year—if she’s looking to do some serious eating—you might try the prix fixe Mother’s Day Brunch at Stage Left Steak in New Brunswick. Not only can Mom tuck into her choice steak (Filet Mignon, Flat Iron Steak & Eggs, or Seared Wagyu Flat Iron Steak, a $20 supplement), she’ll opt for other hefty proteins like Fried Chicken with Garlic and Piri Piri Honey or Braised Lamb Shank with Anson Mills Polenta and a Sunny Side Egg. The Dessert Bar is equally extravagant—Coconut Sabayon, Ivory Chocolate & Banana Bread Pudding, crème brulee, cheesecake. $39.95 per person, 11:30am – 1pm. Stage Left Steak, 5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick; 732-828-4444
New American Elegance
As we noted in its ranking among our 30 Best Restaurants, Restaurant Serenade is well-named: Chef James Laird’s quietly precise, ingredient-exalting food does everything but get off the plate and sing. (If brunch talk slows, tell Mom the New York Times once referred to Laird as “one of the best classically trained chefs in New Jersey.”) No shock it’s a slightly pricier prix fixe, but you’ll see sophisticated seasonal dishes like Fresh Bacon with House-cured Grilled Ramps and Pickled Fennel, Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Sesame Seeds and Crispy Phyllo, Organic Berkshire Pork with Potato Pancake and Zucchini Chips, etc. Add the gorgeous dining room and “special occasion” setting in general and you’ve got plenty to make Mom feel extra special. $89, $40 for children 10 and under; Restaurant Serenade, 6 Roosevelt Avenue, Chatham; 973-701-0303
Think of the three-course prix fixe at Chez Catherine as three ways to say “Maman, je t’aime” (especially if she likes snails in garlic butter). The menu is reliably, richly French—Steak with Bernaise sauce, Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel, even Ganache de Foie Gras with Apricot Vanilla Conserve and Hazelnut Brioche (okay, that one’s $15 extra). Add to that the comfortable elegance of a snug-chic dining room, a dash of tableside service (if you get the Sole Meuniere) and Maman will feel like a queen. $70 per person (with an added automatic 20 percent gratuity); Chez Catherine, 431 North Avenue West, Westfield; 908-654-4011
Willow Creek is importing chef Brian Parker from Cape May’s Southern Mansion Bed & Breakfast to for its Mother’s Day menu. The big menu veers breakfasty—Brioche French Toast with Mascarpone, Cheese Blintz with Raspberry Melba Fruit Sauce, Farm Fresh Egg Station—but you’ll definitely find ham and roast beef carving stations. No small points for being at a winery (a bottomless sangria bar pretty much guarantees Mom isn’t taking any guff this year), with the kind of idyllic rustic farm scenery that’s made Willow Creek a frequent wedding destination. 9:30am – 2pm; $40 per person, $20 for anyone under 21. Willow Creek Farm and Winery, 160-168 Stevens Street, Cape May; 609-770-8782
Chef’s Tasting Menu
There are three levels of prix fixe available at Nicholas Harary’s near 20 year-old culinary gem in Red Bank; you can choose three, four, and six courses. One of our 30 Best Restaurants in the state, Restaurant Nicholas might be the ideal “special occasion” spot—culinary sophistication, posh surroundings, highly refined dishes (Mom could easily get a “regal vibe”). Even the three-course menu sounds elaborate (Pickled Heirloom Beets with Mascarpone, Salted Pistachios, and Local Honey; Bourbon-braised Suckling Pig with Parisienne Apples and Maple Jus). If Mom’s a dedicated foodie, opt for the six-course Chef’s Tasting Menu (with wine pairings)—by the time she’s biting into her Buttermilk Fig Ice Cream with Oat Crumble, you’ll have proven yourself a good son, daughter, husband, etc. 2–8pm; $80 (three-course and four-course Garden menu), $100 (six-course Chef’s Tasting Menu; $160 with wine pairings); Restaurant Nicholas, 160 Route South, Red Bank; 732-345-9977
Mom on the Mediterranean
If you’re looking for something slightly more exotic for Mother’s Day Brunch, try Zeugma Mediterranean Grill in Montclair. Not only does the interior have the far-off feel of a Mediterranean port city (the kind of place where cafes stay open late), chef Can Alp’s menu transforms richly flavorful Turkish and Middle Easter flavors with classical European polish. The restaurant’s full Mother’s Day Brunch menu isn’t available online yet, but example dishes include things like Roasted Haloumi Omelet with Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto, house special Z-Pancakes with Fresh Berries and House-made Tahini Chocolate, and the Mom’s Day tailor-made Medi Breakfast Platter, a mosaic bounty of bites like Ricotta with Honey, Spiced Pumpkin, Simit (Sesame-studded bread) with Jam, Za’atar Olives, Feta, etc. 8am – 3pm; Zeugma Mediterranean Grill, 44 South Park Street, Montclair; 973-744-0074Click here to leave a comment