Second Helpings

Mommy Dearest: Candy makers can't wait for Halloween. Florists celebrate Valentine's Day. Retailers circle the calendar on the day after Thanksgiving.

Restaurant owners live for Mother's Day. On that holiday, it seems as if half the population is tying up phone lines trying to talk with Mom. The other half is packing restaurants wining and dining her. If you haven't made your restaurant reservations yet, you may have to feed Mom at a drive-thru window. I could be wrong, but I bet there aren't too many mothers who want to hear, "Do you want to supersize that?" on their big day.

Even if you've got your reservation, you still may have some difficulties. Occasionally, restaurant owners look at their Mother's Day customers the same way Charles Keating looked at his bondholders: as suckers ripe for fleecing. Along with Valentine's Day, Mother's Day is a special-occasion meal that can be special in a very unpleasant way.

That's because some restaurants may change their prices and menus for the day without alerting the clientele. And like the airlines at Christmastime, some places can't resist overbooking. Where else can you go? And once you're seated, they're so eager to turn tables that you'll barely have time to unfurl your napkin before a server brings you the check.

What can you do? Sure, you can call the restaurant and ask questions. But if you have a sensible Mom, your best bet is to explain the situation to her, and see if she'll agree to postpone her Mother's Day meal until the Sunday after.

Brunch Bunch: If you're taking Mom out to brunch, Mother's Day is not the time to skimp. But you'll probably be sorely tempted to. Prices at the Valley's best brunch spots have been skyrocketing. A decade ago, you'd have had a hard time paying 20 bucks a person. These days, you can spend twice as much.

The problem is that when it comes to brunch, you generally get what you pay for. A Chevy will get you just as fast to your destination as a Lexus. A Timex will tell you the time as accurately as a Rolex. But experience has taught me that a $15 brunch spread won't be even half as good as a $30 one.

Along with Bistro 24 and the Navajo Restaurant (see Cafe, page 79), here are some of the Valley's top brunches:

Terrace Dining Room (Phoenician resort): Without doubt, this is the most lavish, over-the-top spread in town. But it's not only the variety that's astonishing--the quality is also superb.

Marquesa (Scottsdale Princess resort): Does Mom like tapas and paella? The Spanish-themed food here is gorgeous, especially the seafood and desserts.

Golden Swan (Hyatt Regency Scottsdale): One of the prettiest spots around. Ask for an umbrella-shaded outdoor table, where you can gaze out on lush greenery and a koi-filled lagoon. There's also a unique brunch shtick: The food is laid out in the kitchen.

Latilla Room (Boulders resort): A magnificent desert setting, where Mom can slurp down oysters and indulge in a Grand Marnier-soaked crepe.

--Howard Seftel

Suggestions? Write me at hseftel@newtimes.com or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

 
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