Mother's Day Brunch/Dinner Boston MA Area

So, just to generate a little conversation around here, what are your Mother’s Day plans for eating out? I’m headed to Banyan in the old Hamersley’s space for brunch with my family. We had brunch there a couple of months back and really enjoyed it. Particular standouts were the ramen and the mapo hash. The Painkiller wasn’t too shabby, either. I’ll report back after our experience this Sunday.

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We’re eating in. Mother’s Day is right up there with New Years as a day we try to avoid going out. We just picked up some beautiful steaks from MF Dulock and have a care package from Russ & Daughters on the way for the am. All the things she loves, so I’m fortunate there is no expectation to go out.

Sandwiches brought to Mom’s apartment from Joppa Fine Foods in Newburyport. Mom dislikes going out on Mother’s Day, and enjoys the sandwiches from JFF, so it’s an easy win. I’ve already sent flowers, received today, and I expect my sister and I will pick up a few interesting pieces of dark chocolate from JFF as well.

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Husband (me) and 12-year old daugther will fix breakfast at home. To avoid the Mother’s Day crush we are taking her to Flank (Waltham) for lunch on Saturday. I remain a bit dubious given the “utensils optional” marketing, but my SO’s colleague reported favorably, so we’ll go with an open mind. I’ll report here.

MIL likes lemon tarts. I can’t say I’ve ever eaten one. Anyone have a good local source?

Report back on that one.

My mother is not in town so I’m off the hook. But tracking locations you all suggest for when she’s around.

Flour Bakery “lemon lust”

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I have not had a good lemon tart in the Boston area. As someone who loves a good lemon tart, the lemon cheesecake from 7ate9 bakery might be a very good substitute. If you want to make one, well assemble, buy a high quality tart crust and a jar of really excellent lemon curd, and make one at home. Serve with some raspberries and possibly some whipped cream. [I am not a whip cream with lemon tart kind of person, but many are.]

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Just had a thought! The bakery in the South End, the one with the former PandJ Boulangerie pastry check… well, when he was baking there in Wellfleet, he made the best lemon tart I have had in this country. If you can remember the name of the bakery [Madeline, maybe?], call and ask if he would make that for you. They were amazing!

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Thanks. Cafe Madeline does have a lemon tart in their online menu. I got their chocolate mousse cake for my wife’s birthday last year. One of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. Now if I can just find parking nearby…

http://www.pralineconfection.com/16-praline-s-creations

Well, I know what I’m getting the next time I’m at Flour.

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Here’s the Flank report. Our 11:15 AM rez for lunch meant we had the place to ourselves until around noon. That said, the service was still slow. More on this later. The room is pleasant but hard to characterize. High ceilings, lots of light. The ceilings are industrial, exposed ductwork etc., but the walls are wood-paneled topped with crown molding. Some faux ironwork is just odd. We sat in a comfortable circular booth overlooking 128, which actually lended an interesting backdrop. I started with the apricot daiquiri - served up, refreshing and tart, not sweet. For apps we had Oyster’s Rockefeller, roasted bone marrow, deviled eggs. The Oysters Rockefeller were just ok - a bit heavy on sauce so the taste of oysters was mostly hidden. The roasted bone marrow was better - served with fried parsley and an onion relish/confit. The toasted pumpernickel was a misfire - too thick and overwhelmed the marrow. The baguette worked better with the marrow. Deviled eggs were ok but not memorable, despite the slice of black truffle. Spouse and daughter both had 8 oz. steak frites - flank steak and crispy fries, served on a cutting board with steak sauce, bernaise, and catchup. A nice presentation and well executed, cooked as requested - sliced sharply on the bias. I had the “Beefsteak Cobb” salad - also served with flank sliced on the bias. This was a very generous portion, baby romaine, chopped tomato, blue cheese, crumbled egg, avocado (I made it through half - looking forward to lunch on Monday), and I think the winner among the mains. For desert we shared the coconut ceam cake, on the waiters recommendation. It was surprisingly good - served with two scoops of stawberry-rhubarb ice cream, and decorated with a rhubarb compote and small rhubarb meringues.

Wine - I had a crisp Grüner Veltiner with the apps, and we both had a Barossa Valley blend with our mains - Pepperjack - that had been cited on Yelp and is aptly named, with a pleasant peppery bite. Glancing though the full wine list, the markups are not small but not atypical.

Finally, back to the pacing. The wait between courses was excruciating, and unfathomable, given how few people were there. Easily 20+ minutes between courses. The delay for desert/coffee was especially odd - drip coffee arrived in about five minutes, but it took 15+ for a cappuccino to arrive. By the time desert arrived, coffee had long been depleted but no refill was offered (nor sought, at this point). It’s been noted elsewhere that timing at Flank is not a strong point. Given their inability to time courses during a slow period, I conclude the problem comes from the top. Until management realizes they have a serious problem and makes timing a priorty, this place is not going to realize its potential. That’s too bad because the kitchen is turning out some decent food.

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Well, everything I’ve had from Praline has been really wonderful, although I haven’t had the lemon tart. The apple tart is excellent.

Great report, MaxE. Very helpful and fun to read.

Did you get a lemon tart? Did your MIL like it? And, just as important, did you like it?

Here’s our report from brunch at Banyan. Once again we had a really nice experience. The dishes are all really creative, but not just for novelty’s sake. The food is truly unique and yet it all makes sense in the final dishes because the flavors are all so complementary.

There were four of us and we ordered way too much food. We started with smoked pork belly with cilantro and peanuts. This is probably my favorite pork belly dish. I’m sometimes put off by pork belly that is almost all fat, but this is really meaty and incredibly tender. We also had the parsnip cake with miso browned butter (delicious and so moist), daikon fries with ramp aioli and house ketchup (?), and beignets (super light and moist) with apple butter. Banyan Bloodies helped to wash everything down. I have to say, there isn’t one thing I would change about our starters. By the time I got to my entree of smothered scallion pancakes with eggs and Chinese sausage and shiitake gravy, I was stuffed and only managed to eat about half. It was delicious, though. My husband still managed to clean his entire plate of the same dish. One son enjoyed with scallion pancake and smoked salmon sandwich with a simple salad, and my other son shared a bite of his custardy steam bread French toast that may have been my favorite bite of the meal.

We got there at 11:30, a half-hour after opening, and the place was hopping but not so busy that service suffered. At least at that early hour, it didn’t have that harried Mother’s Day feel to it. Both times we’ve been, we’ve found service to be warm and relaxed. I was worried that we’d compare the space to Hamersley’s, which we loved, but they wisely completely changed the feel of the space so that it feels like it’s own thing. All in all, it’s really inviting and unique and we had a wonderful time.

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Yes and yes. MIL loved her lemon tart and everyone else enjoyed the assortment I picked up (french brownie, brioche puff, chocolate mousse cake, cookies). Cafe Madeline is really on another level than just about anything in the area other than Clear Flour (however CF is more bread focused). I ended up going over early yesterday am as they open at 6:30a 7 days a week. I love the city on weekend mornings. It took less than 10 min to get there from Cambridge and there was parking right in front. Only a few people were in the shop and their full selection was freshly made. They told me that by the end of the day Saturday they “may have had a few pieces of bread left and that was about it”. The only problem was that after a big dinner and downing all those sweets I felt like I was pregnant on Mother’s Day.

Thanks for the recommendation.

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Thanks for the report. I haven’t seen any reviews yet of their signature “new American Beefsteak” service, the eat-steak-with-your-hands gimmick, but the prices and the requirement that the whole table go in on it are a big barrier, I’d imagine. $100-a-person steak with no utensils sounds like it’s made for expense accounts.

Fair warning: do not ever try to go to Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery ME on Mother’s Day. There was literally a line of cars a half-mile down the street waiting for space in their parking lot. When the nice people on the phone tell you there’s plenty of parking and barely a 20 minute wait for seating, do not believe them. Go elsewhere.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold