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Checking out brunch fare for Mother's Day

Posted 10:08am on Wednesday, May. 05, 2010

Finding that perfect spot for Mother's Day brunch can be tricky: You want the restaurant to be fancy, but not too expensive. (Mom will balk if she thinks you're spending your whole paycheck on her.) You want the food to be sophisticated, but not too exotic. (Dad will complain if there are weird-sounding ingredients on the menu.) To help you figure out where to make a reservation this weekend, we checked out two area spots. Plenty of restaurants will offer special menus this Sunday, but we prefer to support those places that are in the brunch trenches each week. Our verdict: Wear pants with a stretchy waistband Sunday.

Taverna

450 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth, 817-885-7502; www.tavernabylombardi.com

The brunch: This Italian bistro, which first opened in Dallas and then expanded into Fort Worth in 2006, is one of the best spots downtown for special events, whether it's a first date or Mother's Day. Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays, with a dozen or so entree options, along with weekly specials. Good news for breakfast-food haters: You can order off the regular dinner menu at brunch.

The hits: We started with the bruschetta ($6), a nicely executed version of the Italian staple; the freshness of the tomato, garlic and basil was evident with each bite. The Eggs Al Forno all 'Olio Tartufato ($11) features fried eggs served over garlic bread and sausage -- a kind of eggs Benedict for people who prefer their eggs fully cooked. A little greasy, but otherwise splendid. The vanilla French toast ($8.95) is elegant and simply prepared, and the accompanying mascarpone cheese keeps it from turning too cloyingly sweet. Our favorite entree was one of the daily specials, a calzone stuffed with scrambled eggs, sausage and mozzarella ($12.50). When we hear "calzone," we think heavy and oily, but this effort proved to be quite the opposite.

The miss: The New Orleans-style beignets ($7.95) felt too doughy on the inside and the accompanying dipping sauce was blah.

The booze: Bellinis and mimosas are merely $1 with an entree order (and a buck for each refill). We tried the Bellinis, repeatedly.

Room for dessert? Although we usually regard tiramisu as the oldest cliché in the culinary universe, Taverna's chocolate-chip version has a nice, sweet kick.

The bill: $71.74 for three, before tip.

Lambert's

2731 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, 817-882-1161; www.lambertsfortworth.com

The brunch: "This is where you come to eat if you're going to hang tomorrow," my dining companion noted, three-quarters of the way through a preposterously decadent brunch at Lambert's, the Fort Worth outpost of chef Lou Lambert's Austin cowboy-cuisine original. The $24 fixed-price brunch features both a buffet line and made-to-order items, and you can partake (repeatedly) from either.

The hits: OK, this might take awhile: The green-chili grits are a pure symphony of cheesy, creamy and spicy. The prime rib tenderloin eggs Benedict, with steak in place of the usual Canadian bacon and a chipotle hollandaise sauce, was an ingenious remake of a familiar brunch staple. The brioche French toast managed the feat of making a bread-based breakfast dish seem light and airy. From the carving station, we took second helpings of the pork tenderloin and the beef tenderloin. From the buffet line, the migas, with thick, slightly crunchy tortilla strips blended into the eggs and sausage, were another smash.

The miss: This seems like nit-picking, but we didn't love the crispy bagel chips that accompany the salmon -- we prefer the traditional doughy version.

The booze: We had work to do, so we decided to stick with coffee ($2), but for an additional $4 you can enjoy a bottomless mimosa.

Room for dessert? We sampled the wonderfully buttery coconut cream pie, knowing full well that our four visits to the gym the previous week had just been canceled out.

The bill: $54.13 for two, before tip.

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