Happy Easter...

As I mentioned last year, my non-religious family is not big on celebrating Easter. I've already completed my traditional viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar, and decorating Easter eggs last weekend was more celebrating than I've done since I was a little girl. Taking things one step further, I decided to revive an old family tradition this year by arranging an Easter brunch with my parents and Justin.

For years, we would commemorate Easter by dressing up in our finest spring apparel, not for Easter mass, but to drive to a hotel and stuff our faces with a gluttonous array of carved meats, pastries, and breakfast foods. The main reason why we stopped going was because it became increasingly difficult to locate such brunches, and the ones we found were either outrageously priced or lackluster in quality. Still, I suspect brunch was always Dad's favorite part of the holiday, because it was usually his idea to find a place to make reservations every year, and he would often lament the fact that we had stopped going. In light of that, I decided to take it upon myself to find a brunch spot for this year.

The options, however, were once again uniformly expensive, and my parents didn't relish the idea of trekking downtown to an upscale hotel for the privilege of spending an exorbitant sum. So Mom suggested checking out the Easter brunch at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, minutes from my parents' house, so that I could journey to the suburbs instead and we could employ our membership discount.

Her idea turned out to be a stroke of genius. We lucked out with some of the best weather we've had in quite a while (even if it was still on the chilly side, it was at least not raining), though the persistent cold had kept almost all the blooming flowers at bay for the time being. Nevertheless, since it wasn't downright frigid, I was excited to bust out my Easter finery, and wear a new dress for the occasion. Even without the beds of vibrant flowers, I managed to find an appropriate spot for a photo op of Justin and I looking all spiffy:

I'm in three-inch heels, and he's still towering over me...

More importantly, however, the food was surprisingly good for catered fare. The bacon was cooked to perfection, neither soggy nor burnt to a crisp, and the sausages were plump and juicy. The breakfast options were sufficiently tasty, but the standout items were to be found at the carving station, where a manchego and herb potato gratin stole the show, alongside a well-spiced herb-crusted leg of lamb with blackberry mint chutney. I didn't make it to the custom omelet station, but I don't consider that a huge loss. Honestly, it was one of the better brunches I've had in a long, long time.

The Botanic Gardens also offer a Mother's Day brunch, and we are now seriously considering it for our own celebration. If you're in the market for a holiday brunch venue in the suburbs, the Botanic Garden certainly gets my stamp of approval.

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