Back in my restaurant years, Mother's Day was the holiday. We did more business on that one Sunday than a month of Sundays combined. To help your restaurant make the most of Mother’s Day, here are some menu ideas that work well during busy days, as well some menu ideas that should be avoided during busy days.
- Lobster Stew (or any stew, soup, chowder or bisque)
- Tomato-Basil Bruschetta
- Roasted Garlic Platter
Each of these menu items can be prepared ahead of time and assembled quickly during the lunch or dinner rush. Stews and soups can be made a day or two in advance, to save prep time on Mother’s Day. The Bruschetta mixture (fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper) should be made a day before, to let the flavors meld with one another.
Farmer’s platters, like the Roasted Garlic Platter, are very popular with customers. They involve assembling fresh ingredients on a platter and serving it with lightly toasted bread or crackers. The kitchen can make up several of these platters ahead of time. Throw on some toasted crostini bread and voila! A five minute (or less) appetizer.
Stay Away From: Anything fried. Fried appetizers like chicken fingers, French fries, and mozzarella sticks take several minutes to cook. Plus, if you have limited fryer space, the kitchen can quickly get backed up on fried food orders.
- Chicken Caesar Salad
- Shrimp Caesar Salad
- Spinach Salad
Salads are a busy kitchen’s best friend since they can be assembled by the wait staff, if need be. Even salads that require cooking, such as a chicken Caesar salad, are quick and easy to throw together. We use Caesar salads as a base for many dishes because they are good plain as well as with many different toppers, including lobster, beef, and scallops. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to run a few salad specials since the weather is turning warm and customers have a hankering for lighter fare.
Stay Away From: Salads that require special dressings or several ingredients to prepare or any type of complicated presentation. The idea is to make it quick and easy. Save these types of salads for slower periods, when the kitchen and the wait staff have more time to prepare them.
Brunch is a very popular time to take mom out to dinner. However, typical brunch/breakfast fare can take a long time to cook during really busy holidays. It doesn’t take long for items like omelets and pancakes to eat up all the available cooking space in a kitchen. Instead of running a traditional breakfast menu opt for some carefully selected brunch items that are a tad more dressed up than usual breakfast fare.
- Stuffed French Toast
- Omelet Rolls
- All Meat Egg Scramble (or all vegetable scramble, all tofu scramble… you get the idea)
Stuffed French Toast can be made up earlier in the day. Fill them with fresh fruits, such as strawberries or raspberries for a gourmet brunch item that takes only a few minutes to prepare. Omelet rolls can be done earlier in the day as well. They are a nice alternative to a traditional omelet.
Another bonus of omelet rolls is that you can dress them up or leave ‘em plain. We like a crab and spinach omelet roll topped with homemade béarnaise sauce. Egg scrambles are easy to make on the spot and require little skill to create. Have the scramble throw-ins (meat, vegetables, etc…) ready and waiting.
Stay Away From: Build-your-own anything. Build your own omelets, build your own breakfast platter (I’ll have two eggs, over easy, a side of wheat toast, two slices of bacon, etc.) or any other menu item that gives customers too many choices. During the hectic pace of the brunch or dinner rush, you don’t want your expeditor trying to figure out which eggs go with which toast. Keep it simple. A variety of menu options are a great idea, just not during busy times like Mother’s Day.
- Prime Rib Au Jou
- Baked Stuffed Chicken
- Baked Haddock or Scallops
- Grilled Sirloin with a Bacon Bourbon Glaze
- Portabella Steaks with Pesto Cream Sauce
Prime rib or roast beef is one of the easiest do-ahead menu items available. All the kitchen needs to do is roast the side of beef that morning and reheat on a grill or in au jus sauce. Chicken breasts, baked ahead of time with a special stuffing is another popular dish on Mother’s Day.
Sometimes we use a simple breadcrumb stuffing or we may fancy it up a bit with a lobster-asparagus-croissant stuffing. Either way, it is an easy dish to cook and reheat. Baked seafood is one dish that can be assembled and cooked quickly in an oven or broiler.
We routinely run haddock, scallops and shrimp baked with a crab meat stuffing. Both the beef steaks and portabellas are cooked upon order, but the sauces that accompany each are made up the day before.
Stay Away From: Too many sauté dishes or grill items. Keep a balance so you don’t run out of cooking room on the kitchen range or grill.
And remember- reheating doesn’t mean bad food quality, so long as it was cooked and stored properly beforehand. You are still serving your restaurant’s great food, not just leftovers from last night’s dinner.