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Mothers Who Brunch Find Manhattan Treats on Special Day: Review

Brasserie 8 1/2
The exterior of Brasserie 8 1/2, in New York's midtown, serves brunch from 11:00 to 3:00 and is located at 9 West 57th Street. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Your mom called. She expects to see you on Sunday. And you’re buying.

The National Restaurant Association says Mother’s Day is the most popular holiday for dining out in the U.S., with 75 million Americans heading for restaurants.

Here are a few suggestions for dining in Manhattan. A word to the wise: higher prices and prix fixe menus are all the rage, so check before you go.

If the kids are too young to whip up breakfast in bed, take mom to Lansky’s instead. Brunch is served from 8 to 4 and all entrees come with bottomless drinks like mimosas, bloody marys or coffee.

Imperial Eggs Benedict pairs homemade Maryland crab cakes with poached eggs in a twist on the usual for $14.95. Prices range from $9.95 for Creamy Cheese Blintzes to $32.95 for a Smoked Fish Platter for two.

Large portions might leave mom unable to taste delectable desserts like apple pies the size of manhole covers. Take a slice to go for $4.75 and she can eat it in nearby Central Park after a stroll and an early afternoon nap.

They don’t take reservations but it’s a casual move-‘em-in-and-out kind of place on the weekends, so the wait should be bearable.

Lanksy’s Old World Deli is at 235 Columbus Ave., between 70th and 71st streets; information: +1-212-787-0400.

Vegans and Carnivores

Another brunch deal with drinks included is Essex Restaurant on the Lower East Side. It runs from 11 to 8 and includes an entree and three drinks -- bloody marys, screwdrivers or mimosas -- for $25 (children $15).

Regulars will recognize a $5 increase over the usual price. When asked about it, the man who answered the phone said, “I have to charge $5 more on Mother’s Day to get the staff in.”

The menu appeals to vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike with options like tofu scramble with soy cheese, Challah French toast with Bananas Foster sauce, and biscuits with eggs and sausage gravy.

Essex is upbeat and noisy, takes reservations and only accepts cash at brunch. It’s located at 120 Essex St.; information: +1-212-533-9616.

Gluten Freedom

There may be no such thing as a free lunch but there is a reasonably priced gluten-free lunch at Friedman’s in Chelsea Market. The small restaurant has an old-fashioned, industrial feel with vintage wall paper and an exposed kitchen.

Most of the items on the menu are or can be prepared gluten free, including sandwiches, fried chicken and pancakes.

Brunch prices range from $10 for a Southern breakfast with organic eggs, grits and fried green tomatoes (not gluten free) to $14 for a grilled salmon salad with feta and Kalamata olives.

Pork Flautas, $12, consists of three corn tortillas stuffed with tender braised pork and then fried. It’s a tasty, if busy, concoction served on creme fraiche with avocado, tomatillo salsa and fried eggs. Our egg dishes came out slightly undercooked, so order accordingly.

Reservations aren’t taken. If the wait is too long, order from the take-out counter and find a park bench upstairs on the High Line. This could take some strategizing if a recent Sunday is any indication.

Friedman’s Lunch serves brunch from 10 to 3 and closes at 7 on Sundays. It is located at 75 Ninth Ave., between 15th and 16th streets; information: +1-212-929-7100.

Retro Feel

At Brasserie 8 1/2, mothers are likely to be impressed by the retro feel of the sweeping, orange-clad staircase, the huge flower arrangements in the center of the dining room and the buffet that includes peeled shrimp, heirloom tomatoes and the obligatory omelet station.

Children of a certain age will love going back and forth across the expanse for the muffins and cakes displayed on the bar and perusing the platters of vegetables and meats at the main buffet. Eggs Benedict, pancakes and the like are served hot from the kitchen.

On a recent visit, one well-dressed youngster, not even 3 years old, sounded the alarm on the way out, “Grandma, Grandma! Cancel my credit card!”

Don’t do it before Mother’s Day: Prices are $49 for adults and $19 for children under 12, without drinks. Mother’s Day specials will include roasted spring lamb and chilled asparagus with sesame vinaigrette.

Brasserie 8 1/2 serves brunch from 11 to 4 and is located at 9 W. 57th St.; information: +1-212-829-0812.

Signature Dish

It’s highly possible your mother has asked about the recipe for Lidia Bastianich’s pear and pecorino-filled ravioli. Lots of people have. If she hasn’t, she might well after dinner at Felidia.

The signature dish is served family-style along with antipasti, Atlantic salmon, braised flat-iron beef from Creekstone Farms and more. The special Mother’s Day four-course feast is priced at $98 per person, with wine pairings for $35. Children are accommodated at a la carte pricing.

Desserts like blueberry crostata and chocolate flan are included. Gluten-free dessert options are available a la carte for $12. Corn or rice pasta is also available.

The dignified flagship of Bastianich’s restaurant group is quiet enough to chew the family cud, and the food is nicely presented. Dinner is served from noon, with the last reservation at 8 p.m.

Felidia is located at 243 E. 58th St.; information: +1-212-758-1479.

(Catherine Smith writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

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