Whether you consider Mother's Day (Sunday, May 12) a fuzzy occasion for gratitude and family bonding or a crass commercial ritual perpetrated by Hallmark Cards and the flower industry, it's a great excuse for dining out. And at this time of year in the Hudson Valley, French doors are flung open and patios set for leisurely alfresco meals. Here are five good mom places for all prices and all temperaments.
If the weather is fine -- and there is no worry about that, for who messes with 100 million moms? -- Harvest on Hudson is a memorable place to celebrate Mother's Day (634 Pine Hill Rd., Hastings-on-Hudson, 914-478-2800, harvest2000.com). A cavernous though tasteful reproduction of a Tuscan villa resting on the east bank of the Hudson River, it affords stunning views from the Tappan Zee Bridge in the north to Manhattan in the south. For such a large restaurant -- it seats about 200 -- it doesn't feel cramped, as tables are arranged relatively far apart.
The Mother's Day prix fixe menu, available from noon to 9 p.m., features many dishes that most moms likely have never made: risotto with wild mushrooms and leeks, veal ravioli with basil pesto and toasted nuts, fillet of sole oreganata with wilted spinach, wild mushrooms and lemon brown butter, and rack of lamb with sauteed escarole and mascarpone polenta. The sizable if unadventuresome wine list carries numerous selections in the $30 range. The prix fixe menu is $55 for adults and $28 for children under age 12.
If your mother is of a historical bent, or just likes old stuff, consider a meal at The Beekman Arms, America's oldest continually operated hostelry (6387 Mill St./Route 9, Rhinebeck, 845-876-1766, beekmandelamaterinn.com). Located in the heart of Rhinebeck, a vibrant village about 90 miles north of Manhattan, the tavern opened in 1776 and became a place of refuge when the British burned the nearby state capital of Kingston. In fact, Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold and George Washington all convened here during the Revolution.
On Mother's Day, there is an extensive buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., $39.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. There are several seating options: the low-ceilinged tap room with a stone hearth and a gleaming wood bar, the recently renovated small dining rooms or the splendid greenhouse at the front of the building. After your meal, you might take time to check out the town, all two blocks of it; there is also a nice two-story antique barn behind the inn.
Cathryn Fadde is a celebrated character in the antique-laden town of Cold Spring. Her restaurant is quaint and comfortable, with a large lounge and a flower-framed brick courtyard for outside dining (91 Main St., Cold Spring, 845-265-5582, tuscangrill.com). The food could be called winsome Italian, with items like calamari with arugula and smoked cherry tomatoes and seared scallops with pancetta and sauteed fava beans.
On Mother's Day, there will be brunch and a dinner. For the brunch, which lasts from noon to 3 p.m., there are numerous egg creations (scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and mascarpone cheese, sunnyside up with a tomato-porcini sauce over toasted country bread) as well as regular menu items like grilled lamb scallopine, grilled salmon with mixed greens, and spring vegetable risotto. The bargain-priced meal is $20.12 per person and includes a glass of champagne, a mimosa or a Bellini. The enormous Italian wine list carries a number of good selections at reasonable prices.
Awash in history and charm, this stately inn and restaurant has been a regional favorite for decades (11 Kittle Rd./Route 117, Chappaqua, 914-666-8044, kittlehouse.com). Housed in a 1790s farmhouse, it has a softly lit, semiformal dining room as well as a casual Tap Room whose antique mahogany bar serves as a meeting post for local gentry. The amiable and skilled service staff does not miss a beat.
On Mother's Day, there will be a brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. ($55 for adults and $27.50 for children) featuring items like French toast, vegetable quiche, several pastas as well as roasted salmon, steak and roast lamb. And if you're fond of bivalves at the start of your day, there is a fine shellfish bar featuring oysters, clams and shrimp. From 2 p.m. until 7 p.m., the dinner menu is offered ($65 for adults and $32.50 for children). Menu items include asparagus soup, arctic char with a parsnip-apple puree, filet mignon and saddle of lamb with ratatouille. For dessert, you'll find warm Valrhona chocolate pastry, the restaurant's signature cheesecake and more.
Glenmere offers one of those make-up-for-18-years-of-aggravation Mother's Day treats (635 Pine Hill Rd., Chester, 845-469-1900, glenmeremansion.com). This extravagantly restored, 35-room Tuscan villa in rural Orange County has been transformed into a posh hotel and spa. Laden with antique furniture, fine art and hand-painted panels depicting the Italian countryside, the main dining room, called The Supper Room, is right out of the era of the robber barons. The Mother's Day brunch, available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be served here, or, weather permitting, in the building's magnificent, open-air courtyard called the Cortile.
At $75 per person, the brunch isn't cheap, but the restaurant does throw in champagne. Among the offerings: Wellfleet Oysters with orange mignonette, seared scallops with snap peas and carrot butter, lobster Benedict with toasted brioche, seared wild salmon with agrodolce (a sweet and sour sauce), butternut squash agnolotti with Swiss chard and pancetta, and roasted apple bread pudding.