Dining with Your Mother-in-Law: Mother’s Day Etiquette Tips for Diners from Expert Lizzie Post

Depending on geography — and whether or not you hit the awesome mother-in-law jackpot, Mother’s Day can fill some people with a bit of anxiety. The vast majority of special requests associated with OpenTable restaurant reservations are filled with warm notes asking for a flower or some other gesture or accommodation for “my lovely mother-in-law.” However, there are more than a few of you who seem to be anticipating the day with the same zeal one might reserve for a root canal. A few of the standouts:

“It’s my first Mother’s Day with my new mother-in-law, so I’m trying to impress her.”

“Wife, mother, and mother-in-law will be there. Please help me keep them happy.”

“Have a stiff drink waiting for me because I am going to be with my mother and mother-in-law.”

“Bringing my mother and mother-in-law in for Mother’s Day – yes, I’m a saint!”

We checked in with expert Lizzie Post, cohost of the “Awesome Etiquette” podcast on American Public Media, for Mother’s Day etiquette tips for diners, so you’ll be ready to navigate even the thorniest of situations that could arise on May 10th.

Seat yourself strategically. As a first line of defense against any drama, Post says, “We always suggest strategic seating. Remember, this is your mother-in-law; this is your husband or your wife’s parent, so having them sit next to each other is a perfectly fine way not just to buffer it, but to allow them to have some time close to each other that, depending on where you live, they might not get very often.”

Shrug off any criticism toward your parenting skills, but… If your kids need distractions to make it through the dining experience and that doesn’t sit well with your mother-in-law, don’t take it personally — but do take it in. Post notes, “When I am out to dinner with a friend and their child comes along, it is nice to have those moments when their kid is focused on something else and we can chat. But, I am also an etiquette expert, and I’m going to come down hard on the side of you need to raise your kids in a way that you spend time at home preparing them for what going out to dinner is like. I do not expect a two-year-old to sit through an entire meal for an hour and a half, but I would expect an eight year old to get through that. So, you have to think developmentally.” Also, consider going old school when designing distractions. “Oftentimes what you’re dealing with when you get judgment from a grandparent is the child’s use of a cell phone. Your parents did the exact same thing — except that it was coloring books and small toys. So, I would suggest bringing something along that isn’t quite so criticism friendly from people of that generation. Try a small coloring book, instead,” she says.

Come prepared with polite conversation. In a perfect world, all of our dining experiences would be focused on the delicious food and warm hospitality, but sometimes conversations can veer to sensitive or unsavory topics. Post reveals, “We had people start talking at a lunch the other day about horrible deaths, and I lost my appetite over it. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous.'” When there was a break in conversation, Post seized the opportunity to steer things in a more lighthearted (and appetizing) direction. She says, “I just said, ‘Well, this is a totally different subject, but I’d love to hear about…,’ and I picked something that was a more upbeat conversation topic and redirected things that way – and I had back-up questions ready to go.” If it really becomes problematic and the subject matter isn’t appropriate for the kids at the table, she says, “It’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m just getting a little uncomfortable and I’d love to talk about something else.’ and then have something else to go to. You can say, ‘I know you and James just saw a new movie. Why don’t you tell us about it?'”

Be proactive, but not too prodding. If you observe that your mother-in-law has an issue with an order or seating during the meal, try to gently resolve the situation – emphasis on the gently. “You have to poke and prod a little bit. Ask if she’d like a different plate or table. And always say, ‘Hey, restaurants are really keen on getting you what you, want so it’s going to be no trouble to them to get you something better and it’s totally fine. What we care about is that you have something you enjoy.’” If she resists and says no, it’s best to just drop the issue. “If you force it upon her, that might get even more uncomfortable.”Continue Reading

2015 James Beard Awards: Restaurant + Chef Winners #JBFA

michael anthonyThe 2015 James Beard Awards were held last night in Chicago. We’re pleased to highlight and congratulate this year’s winners. These chefs and restaurants represent the very best in dining across the nation. Make a reservation at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant today.

WINNING RESTAURANTS INCLUDE:

Best New Restaurant
Bâtard, New York, New York

Outstanding Restaurant
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York

Outstanding Wine Program
A16, San Francisco, California

NOMINATED CHEFS INCLUDE:

Outstanding Chef
Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Jessica Largey, Manresa, Los Gatos, California

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Jonathon Sawyer, The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, Ohio

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore, Maryland

Best Chef: Midwest
Gerard Craft, Niche, Clayton, MissouriContinue Reading

Mother’s Day Restaurant Deals: 2015 Splurges + Steals

Mother’s Day 2015 is less than a week away. The great news is that there’s still time to find the perfect table to celebrate the special mom in your life. In fact, 50% of diners book their Mother’s Day reservations a week out — and 25% do so the day before. We’ve gathered Mother’s Day restaurant deals to help you pick a place that’s right for your family, from splurges to steals — and something a little different. Get inspired and start planning Mother’s Day today!

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ATLANTA

* A bit more: One Midtown Kitchen can help you say it with flowers. On your reservation, indicate that you’d like to surprise mom with a fresh floral arrangement and it will be ready and waiting upon arrival for $60.
* A bit less: Danntana’s Surf and Turf is picking up mom’s meal. Her entree is free if you purchase another menu item at regular price.
* A bit different: Le Vigne at Montaluce Winery invites you to spend a day in the mountains with mom. Enjoy handcrafted wine and live music on the patio.

BOSTON

* A bit more: Café Fleuri is serving fabulous food and a free mimosa set to live jazz, plus a face painter and balloon artist to entertain the wee ones at $95 per adult and $51 per children 5-12 years old.
* A bit less: Club Café offers their award-winning buffet, which includes carved roasts and lobster mac n cheese at just $23.50 for adults and $8.95 for children under 12.
* A bit different: Odyssey Cruises beckons you to set sail with mom for brunch. She’ll receive a flower, and a complimentary Champagne or mimosa is available for all diners, 21 and over. There’s juice, goodie bags, and entertainment for the kids, plus an ice cream sundae bar.

CHICAGO

* A bit more: NoMI is putting on a a luxurious culinary affair against a backdrop of stunning Michigan avenue views. Dine on a diverse range of specially curated chef stations for $135 per person.
* A bit less: Red Door is serving three courses for a wallet-friendly $25 — plus, guests can purchase a fun flower arrangement for mom for an additional $25.
* A bit different: Brass Monkey Brasserie is throwing a Mother’s Day Funky Brunch (“It’s like Tom Jones and Julia Child threw a party at Warren Beatty’s pad.”). Tell mom to bust out her bell bottoms for this seven-course, 1970s-inspired menu that is $40 for adults and $20 for kids under 12.

DENVER

* A bit more: Wine Experience Café and World Cellar invites you to raise a glass to mom on Mother’s Day with a white tablecloth four-course brunch at $59 for adults and $20 for children.
* A bit less: The Crown Social is putting on a gourmet brunch buffet for $20 per person with a “bottomless drink” menu, featuring a new bottomless Bloody Mary bar (for just $12 or $30 for both brunch and the bar).
* A bit different: Kachina Southwestern Grill wants you to heed the call of the wild — the wild west, that is. They’re preparing a family-style, wild west brunch with green chile deviled eggs, a chuck wagon egg bake, and chocolate chile beignets for $27 per person. Bonus: kids ages 8 and under eat free.

LOS ANGELES

* A bit more: Mr. C Beverly Hills is ready to help you treat your mom to a poolside Venetian brunch buffet featuring Cipriani pastas, waffles, custom frittatas, live music, and more! Plus, moms receive a complimentary Bellini and a flower, for $99 for adults and $45 for 5-12 year olds.
* A bit less: Sage-A Plant Based Bistro is great for going green while saving some green. A special brunch buffet and bottomless mimosas are just $25 per person.
* A bit different: smoke.oil.salt. can help you take mom on an armchair trip to Spain with their paella feast. Diners can choose from traditional paella with rabbit and pork, seafood paella with giant prawns, or vegetarian paella for two at $49 per person, and free Cava for all mothers.

MIAMI

* A bit more: StripSteak is rolling out the red carpet for moms, with a luxe brunch featuring their signature “fizzy bellboy” cocktail, sumptuous seafood carts, delectable entrees, family-style sides, and lavish desserts at $68 per person.
* A bit less: 7 Pecados lets you sip while you save with a three-course $30 per person prix-fixe menu that includes a bottle of sparkling wine per table. Pick from three delicious options of appetizer, main course, and dessert, including salad, baked brie, filet mignon, fish, and more.
* A bit different: City Hall wants you to put your hands together for a Gospel brunch starring Maryel Epps. Choose from a la carte brunch dishes priced from $10-$20, along with mimosas, Bloody Marys, and guava mojitos.

MINNEAPOLISContinue Reading

10 Essential Dishes for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is on Tuesday, May 5, but we’re already craving salt-rimmed Margaritas on the rocks, chips and salsa, and every culinary creation associated with this festive holiday. To narrow things down, we’ve rounded up 10 essential dishes for Cinco de Mayo to tuck into as you celebrate this weekend or on Tuesday (or really any day because — deliciousness!). Whet your appetite and make your reservations!

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1. Blackened Fish Tacos at Chef Geoff’s Rockville, Rockville, Maryland
Ingredients: Blackened wild catfish, corn and black bean relish, and avocado crema.
Rave review for Chef Geoff’s Rockville: “We can always count on a perfect meal — from the cocktails to the appetizers to the entrees and if we are able — the desserts! We have never been disappointed and will keep coming for the delicious, enjoyable meals!”

2. Ceviche de Atun Pacifico at Oyamel Mexican Cocina, Washington, D.C.
Ingredients: Honolulu Fish Co. Hawaiian Ahi tuna with Maggi-lime marinade, scallions, avocado, toasted pecans, Fresno chiles, and crispy amaranth.
Rave Review for Oyamel Mexican Cocina: “The food and service were great. The pork belly quesadillas, guacamole, and mushrooms were terrific, as was the tuna ceviche (according to the others I was dining with).”

3. Elotes/Mexican Street Corn at Rosa Mexicano New York, New York
Ingredients: Mexican crema, Cotija cheese, chili powder, garlic, and lime.
Rave review for Rosa Mexicano: “Great take on traditional TexMex, classy environment, and attentive service. Tasty margaritas, too.”

 

4. Enchiladas de Mole Negro Oaxaqueño at Fonda, Brooklyn, New York
Ingredients: Soft corn tortillas filled with braised chicken topped with a stone-ground Oaxacan black mole, chopped onions, crema, queso fresco, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Rave review for Fonda: “I love this place. The sauces are so good I want to completely wipe the plate clean with tortillas!”

5. Guacamole at Lola, Denver, Colorado
Ingredients: Handcrafted and served tableside with perfectly ripe avocados, Serrano peppers, cilantro, red onion, garlic, lime, Chimayo chile powder, salt, and pepper.
Rave Review for Lola: “Everything here is great, but their table-side guacamole has got me hooked!!!! Perfect for drinks and apps with girlfriends, or dinner, or brunch! I HIGHLY recommend having a Horchata with rum or Tuaca.”

6. Huevos Ranchero at HECHO in San Francisco, California
Ingredients: Eggs, spicy‏ red sauce, bacon, black beans, crema, avocado, and flour tortillas, served with Mexican hash.
Rave review for HECHO: “We found this place because our friends’ son said he heard about a fried avocado taco. Starting out, the cocktails were great. The server was very attentive, and the food was great. Fun evening.”

7. Husk Merengue with Corn Mousse at Cosme, New York, New York
Ingredients: Corn husk leaves, egg whites, sugar, corn puree, heavy cream, and Mascarpone cheese.
Rave review for Cosme: “All the hype surrounding Cosme is 100% deserved. I can’t stop thinking about the duck carnitas and the corn husk merengue. I think they’re going to haunt me for the rest of my life. The husk merengue was so good we ordered another one after we finished it.”

8. Surf + Turf Molcajetes at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, Boca Raton, Florida
Ingredients: Skirt steak, Spanish chorizo, chicken, and shrimp in a roasted garlic verde sauce.
Rave review for Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar: “The food and service are always great. Love, love, love the slow-cooked pork! Being gluten free is never an issue with these guys. Lots of options for even picky eaters, too.”Continue Reading