Thursday, April 19, 2018
Restaurants

Restaurant review: Three brunch places to take Mom on Mother's Day

Forget what the M, O, T, H and E stand for. On Sunday, the ''R'' is for reservations. The busiest restaurant day of the year, Mother's Day brunch is a serious tradition for many families, love and gratitude meted out in waffles and eggs over easy. Certain restaurants reliably fill to capacity — Oystercatchers at the Hyatt, Marchand's at the Vinoy, the King Charles Ballroom at the Don CeSar — but there are plenty more Mom might enjoy. What follows is a handful of Tampa Bay restaurants that might expand her horizons this Mother's Day. (In other words, you may still get in to these places even if you forgot to make that "R.")

Benedicts and bromosas: Thirsty First

Greg Mikurak opened Thirsty First last year in the old Alvin's Lounge space in St. Petersburg. It's not glamorous, in a room that feels a little sports bar-ish with televisions and high-top tables, but there's this for Mom: $15 bottomless mimosas. It's made a name for itself with nearly-all-day happy hours ($3 wells, beers and wines) and shock-and-awe burgers in the style of Engine No. 9. Exhibit A: the Five Families ($13), with a sensibly sized beef patty that starts getting nuts with the addition of ham, Swiss and fried egg, plus a slather of "mustardaise" (us common folk call that mayo mixed with mustard), all served on buttery Texas toast.

The kitchen has a way with tots. As in tater. The zenith is the Prohibition Tots ($9, although let's be honest here, the Ore-Ida Labs invented the novelty in 1953, so the 21st amendment was long already in effect), which marries crunchy tots with gooey cheddar and bacon and then pairs them with a kicky-spicy ketchup.

But you're here for brunch, right? Mom may also be enthusiastic for the bottomless bromosas (higher octane, it's champagne amended with vodka, peach schnapps and orange juice; $20), and she's probably not operating heavy equipment on Sunday, so that's just fine. Then she should apply her attentions to the Benedicts, the most interesting of which is the JB Bene ($10), a textbook pair of poached eggs, ham and hollandaise, but all of it set atop cheddar chive biscuits (a welcome shift from English muffins), served with a side of hash browns or mixed fruit.

Mom, her progeny and everyone else can order off either the brunch or lunch menus, so you can think outside the eggs. Only on Sunday, mothers get a free mimosa and 20 percent off food.

Tip: The Sundial Parking Garage is just next door, much less hassle than street parking and usually $1.

Brunch is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 119 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 317-3333.

Oh la la, crepes: Wooden Rooster

Here's another Mother's Day tip: Mom wants to eat something she couldn't easily make herself. Yes, she'll appreciate corn flakes on a teetery tray in bed, but she's thinking souffles, or maybe fondue. Or, I've got it — crepes. Born in Macon, France, executive chef Jeremy Duclut worked in Philadelphia with George Perrier from Le Bec Fin for 12 years, then he was awarded the title of Chopped champion and came to St. Petersburg to debut Cassis on St. Petersburg's Beach Drive in 2010. At the end of 2015, he opened the Wooden Rooster with his wife, Liset, still staying on as exec of Cassis.

The warm, casual space is an order-at-the-counter charmer on the ground floor of the Ovation condo tower in St. Petersburg. With approximately 30 seats inside and another dozen outside, the focus here is sweet and savory crepes. On the savory side, it's a short lineup of signature combinations tucked into a choice of buckwheat, gluten-free or regular white-flour crepes. (Those same combos are available as sandwiches on baguette or nine-grain bread.) And creative types can concoct their own savory or sweet crepes from a list of ingredients.

Pair the Norwegian — a tidy crepe packet that gives way to a center of fluffy scrambled eggs, curls of smoked salmon, bits of soft cream cheese and cubes of cuke ($8.75) — with one of the seasonal salads ($7.25), the local greens elevated by a clearly house-made vinaigrette. These can be bolstered by a workhorse Bloody Mary ($7.50) or a generous mug of cafe au lait ($3.25).

In the savory sphere, buckwheat flour is the way to go, the nuttier, earthier base giving Breton-style crepes their verve and a little more tooth resistance.

Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, until 4 p.m. Sunday. 104 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 822-7373.

'Egg-ceptional' selection: Another Broken Egg Cafe

I had to overcome some personal prejudice to review this one. During the month of April, we take wagers at the paper to see how many Easter news releases we get with egg puns (egg-stravaganza, egg-cellent, egg-ceptional, you get the idea). When I learned that Another Broken Egg Cafe, which already has two outposts in Clearwater, was opening a third location in Tampa in March, there it was: "Award-Winning, Egg-ceptional Breakfast."

Still, I persevered. This place is booming, so much so that I managed to improve my cornhole skills out front while compulsively checking my phone for a text from the hostess. It's breakfast, brunch and lunch, with fat mason jars of Bloody Marys and people zipping around to fill your pretty glazed pottery coffee cup pronto. This is a vast menu that will take Mom a while to read. Don't rush her, it's her special day.

All the "sweet temptations" (pancakes and such) are served with two eggs any style and choice of bacon, house-made sausage patties, turkey sausage, Andouille or ham. A solid choice if you're waffling is the pancake trio ($12.99; wait, I meant waffling not in a breakfast-waffle sense), so you can indulge in bananas Foster, peach cobbler and mixed berry hot cakes without regrets about the road not taken. I'm a little perplexed by the "gluten-friendly" option, though — does this mean "up with gluten" or "no gluten here, folks"?

The chain's Louisiana and Southern roots are apparent if you're a careful reader: You'll find a crab cakes and fried green tomato combo served with a pleasantly light spinach salad ($14.99) and a very solid chicken and waffles ($10.99), a dish of battered tenders and waffle wedges with a side of must-keep-dipping chipotle honey.

Servers have the classic diner hustle and friendliness, but unlike most breakfast spots, Another Broken Egg has a full bar, so breakfast can be accompanied by Bellinis, sangria and specialty cocktails. (Here's one right up Mom's alley: spiked Nutella iced latte.) And on Mother's Day there's another reason to put this place in heavy rotation: All mothers will be given a $10 gift card that can be redeemed May 15 to 28.

Open 7 a.m to 2 p.m. daily. 4041 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 769-9906, and other locations; anotherbrokenegg.com.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

     
             
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