In the words of food writer and former chef Ivy Knight, “Brunch is hell.” Anthony Bourdain has written, “Chefs hate brunch.” Brunch is not, as it happens, the favorite meal of restaurant workers. (Something about too many people with hangovers.) I might humbly suggest that if you enjoy brunch, pick a Sunday that’s not a holiday, when restaurants are crowded with people who would rather still be home in bed.
And yet, here comes Mother’s Day, and we all know what that means, or is supposed to mean: Brunch with Mom and maybe Grandma, someplace where you’ll probably wait to be seated despite having a reservation. Or you’ll show up without a reservation, and good luck with that.
But just in case Mom/Gram would be broken-hearted if you left her brunchless on Mother’s Day, here’s a list of local eateries that feature live jazz along with bloody Marys. Note that Mother’s Day is next Sunday, May 9, not this Sunday, so this is not exactly last-minute but pretty close.
Mother’s Day Brunch at the Dakota, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. With jazz pianist Jeanne Arland Peterson and vocalist Patty Peterson. First-course buffet (smoked fish, fresh fruits, cheeses, cured meats, pastries), five entrée options (green eggs and ham, jumbo lump crab omelet, fried chicken and waffles, stuffed poblano chile, slow-roasted beef tenderloin), choice of dessert. $25-$35 based on the entrée you select. Reservations 612-332-1010.
Mother’s Day Brunch at Tryg’s, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Love those hours. Vocalist Katie Gearty performs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Special menu includes prime rib, ham, eggs, grilled vegetables, fruits and dessert bar. Adults $25.99, children 6-12 $10.99, 5 and under free. Reservations 612-920-7777.
Mother’s Day Brunch at Crave-West End, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Music by vocalist Charmin Michelle and pianist Rick Carlson from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Crave is a regular Sunday gig for Michelle and Carlson. I like the late-night happy hour at this shiny new St. Louis Park restaurant; there’s nothing like a $5 sushi roll after a movie at the ShowPlace Icon theater, washed down with an Asahi. Mother’s Day features a family-style brunch with scrambled eggs, sausage and pepper strada, house-made hash browns, applewood smoked bacon, ham, sausage, toast, fruit, cinnamon roll, French toast bar, and chef-carved prime rib. All you can eat for $22.95. Limited lunch menu also available. Reservations at 952-933-6500.
Brunch at Hell’s Kitchen, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. If brunch is hell, why not have brunch in Hell? Easier said than done at this popular downtown Minneapolis dining spot. As of Thursday, April 29, there were four reservations remaining for Mom’s Day. Walk-ins are welcome, but expect a lengthy wait. Keyboardist/vocalist Alicia Wiley performs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No special menu but a couple of breakfast specials. Reservations 612-332-4700.
Tip: If you can’t get in where you want to go, you can always take Mom to brunch the week after Mother’s Day. More relaxed, less crowded, and you can order off the menu. Everyplace listed here except the Dakota is in the brunch business, with live music every Sunday.
Jazz picks for this weekend and into the week:
Saturday, May 1: Pat Moriarty, Ellen Lease, Adam Linz and Phil Hey. The latest installment in Moriarty and Lease’s “Tonight at Noon: New Jazz at Studio Z” series is a no-charts, no-rehearsal evening of free improvisation. They’re calling it “Insurgent.” For people who enjoy free jazz — and, I might suggest, those who are curious and/or want to know more — this is a top pick for the weekend. Here’s an interview with Moriarty and Lease in which they talk at some length about improvisation. Studio Z, 275 E. Fourth St. (Northwestern Building), Suite 200, St. Paul’s Lowertown, 8 p.m. ($10 adults/$5 students). Tickets at the door (cash or check) or online.
Monday, May 3: Kelly Rossum and Phil Hey. City Pages just named the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge on Mondays the Best Jazz Club for 2010. For 10 years, Monday night’s Jazz Implosion has featured cutting-edge jazz artists in a surreal North Woodsy basement setting. This Monday is a special treat among many. Trumpeter Rossum, late of MacPhail and many jazz groups around town, now living in New York City, returns to Minnesota for a weekend at St. Olaf College in Northfield. On Monday he’ll head to the Clown to play with drummer Hey, maybe dipping into the “Conflict” CD the two released late last year. The Clown Lounge in the basement of the Turf Club, 1601 W. University Ave., St. Paul, 10:30 p.m. ($5). 651-647-0486.
Tuesday, May 4: Dan Newton’s Café Accordion Orchestra. A favorite Tuesday hang for those who love the diverse and versatile Café Accordion Orchestra, half-price wine and dancing. Led by accordionist Dan Newton, CAO is currently in the studio working on its eighth recording, tentatively titled “Berets and Bongos.” This is always a fun group, and you never know who might turn up to hear them. We went last Tuesday and ran into Nancy Harms and Davina Sowers (Davina and the Vagabonds). Loring Pasta Bar, 327 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis (Dinkytown), 6 to 9 p.m. (no cover). 612-378-4849.