Every Sunday, especially during spring and summer, my mom would wake early and start preparing a huge breakfast for me, my younger twin brothers, older sister and dad. These elaborate food affairs would include mountains of scrambled eggs, stacks of perfectly fried bacon, fluffy pancakes, pan-fried potatoes, hand made biscuits, marmalade and plenty of coffee, milk and orange juice. After stuffing ourselves silly, we would often slip into a food coma and nap until late afternoon.
Because of my mother's obvious love of the morning meal, I began making her breakfast for Mother's Day. Since I wanted to impress the finest cook I had ever known, I looked for the most extravagant recipes and it was then I discovered Eggs Benedict. Let's be honest, the first time I prepared this dish was an unmitigated failure. The English muffins burned, the Knorr Hollandaise Sauce Mix came out lumpy and the poached eggs...I won't even go there. Who thought dropping an egg into simmering water would be a good thing? My mom, being the wonderful mom that she is, ate more than half of the slop I served her and exclaimed she loved every bite.
Since that fateful day, I perfected the art of making Eggs Benedict by investing in a poaching pan and making the sauce from scratch. I also tried adding different ingredients like replacing the ham with thick-cut bacon, adding a slice of tomato and topping the eggs with fresh avocado before slathering the whole thing with sauce. Even now, I can't think of Mother's Day without picturing her devouring a decadent dish of Eggs Benedict, but now my mom lives over 2,000 miles away. If she was here, though, there are plenty of places I could take her where she could taste a wealth of creative versions of this brunch-time staple...
In the Riverbend on the far corner of Dante Street lies one of my favorite spots for brunch, a house-turned-restaurant called Dante's Kitchen. Owner and chef Eman Loubier and his Executive Sous Chef Brian Armour go above and beyond for breakfast at this quaint, neighborhood spot with dishes like Roasted Banana Pecan Pancakes and Skillet Corned Beef Hash & Eggs, but the dish to die for is their namesake, the Dante's Eggs Benedict. Rosemary-rubbed pork loin takes the place of ham atop a fresh, buttermilk biscuit drizzled in honey and topped with poached eggs and plenty of rich hollandaise. Can you see your mom swoon?
Cruise over to Magazine Street for something a little different at Apolline. Located in what was formerly a beautiful Victorian Side Hall, Apolline is fairly new on the scene with Chef Matt Farmer at the helm. Farmer is locally born and bred who attended a culinary program here and spent time in local kitchens like Sandro's Trattoria and Salu. The brunch menu at Apolline is simple and delicious with dishes like BBQ Shrimp & Grits, Sharon's World Famous Biscuits with sausage gravy or a Grilled Hangar Steak with chimichurri. Mom's choice, though, should be the Eggs Apolline that take the traditional to a whole new level. A crispy Belgian waffle is topped with Jacob's andouille (a famous sausage maker in LaPlace), peeled crawfish tails and two perfectly poached eggs smothered in hollandaise.
Finally, spend a spectacularly spiritual Mother's Day brunch at Redemption. Located on the corner of Iberville and N. Scott in Mid-City, Redemption is a beautiful church-turned-restaurant that once housed the local favorite Christian's. Owned and operated by the Delaune Family, this faith-infused restaurant features soaring, cathedral ceilings (honestly!), stained glass windows and excellent, local cuisine crafted by acclaimed Executive Chef Greg Picolo, who previously manned the kitchen at the now-closed Bistro at Maison de Ville in the French Quarter. Chef Picolo offers what he calls a “Revival Creole Cuisine” with dishes like Frog Leg Grillades & Grits, Paneed Lamb Chops and Banana Fritters. Though at brunch, Redemption offers a decadent slant on the classic with their Crab Cake Benedict that features two poached eggs balanced atop thick, moist, Louisiana crab cakes, sauteed spinach and fried green tomatoes all drenched in a truffle-scented hollandaise. It is exactly the kind of divine decadence any fabulous mom deserves.