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At AlleyCat in Boca Raton, the setting and food choices are small shareable plates that pair well with Japanese offerings.

By Jan Norris

If there’s an official brunch season, it’s spring, and local restaurants have obliged with their versions of the midday meal.

At first a Sunday event, brunch has become so popular, the special menu now shows up all weekend and can be booked for special events.

If you’re celebrating Mom with a brunch, several spots in the area will put out a spread worthy of her. Some will offer special buffets or prix fixe menus for Mother’s Day on May 12; check ahead of time for those.

Make reservations well in advance — it’s one of the busiest dining out days of the year.

Here are a few to consider.

Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen (farmhousekitchenboca.com) in Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Place puts the focus on “clean” eating, sourcing food locally when possible, and serving dishes that bring out the best of the ingredients. Service isn’t rushed: Dining versus just eating is encouraged.

Starters are notable — the zucchini chips served with a yogurt dip flavored with lemon and capers are just right. Vegan and vegetarian options are available. Indoor or outdoor seating is possible.

Who goes to a steakhouse for brunch? Smart diners looking for that different edge. A modern, somewhat loud take on an American steakhouse, the Meat Market (meatmarket.net) in Boca Raton’s newly renovated Renaissance Hotel serves up an eclectic menu. Steak and eggs, a fixture, are a churrasco steak with green chili and corn salsa with scrambled eggs and cheese.

No chicken and waffle here — it’s crispy duck confit with a sweet potato waffle. And, in a nod to tradition, a cinnamon roll with a rum caramel-candied pecan glaze. Of note: The unlimited champagne at brunch is Louis Roederer.

You go to Prime Catch (primecatchboynton.com) in Boynton Beach for the waterfront view and to watch the boats at the bridge. Not a bad seat in the house, and definitely a spot to take visitors. But don’t miss the “super” bloody Mary with the seafood skewer. It’s a meal and a drink all in one. The buttered jumbo lump crabcake Benedict is noteworthy as well. A fish-lover’s favorite.

Ravish Off Ocean (ravishkitchen.com) in Lantana has a new brunch buffet, with several stations where diners can choose from assorted pastries and fruits, typical eggs, bacon or sausage, or an omelet made to order. For drinks, it’s bottomless cocktails you make from a bloody Mary bar with assorted garnishes, or a mimosa bar featuring fresh fruit juices and sparkling drinks. Live music and a garden-like atmosphere put this one near the top for ambience.

A hidden find, Latitudes (opalcollection.com/delray-sands) at the Sands Resort in Highland Beach brings a taste of Florida to the tables. For Mother’s Day, a three-course prix fixe menu will be served beginning at noon. It will focus on seafood (lobster bisque, crabcake, oysters on the half shell), with a braised lamb shank, prime rib and blood-orange-glazed chicken also on the list. The oceanfront property is upper crust, and ambience is South Florida Chamber of Commerce picturesque.

Dada (sub-culture.org/locations/dada), a longtime establishment on Swinton Avenue in Delray Beach, just off Atlantic Avenue, offers brunch only on Sundays. The menu is eclectic — there’s something for everyone and it’s among the most reasonably priced around.

If you don’t start with the Dada dates here, you’re doing it wrong. They are stuffed with almonds, goat cheese, Spanish chorizo and bacon and come with a manchego salsa. You may need a second order. Or a crabcake benny or the fried chicken sandwich might change your mind. There’s rosé all day, too, as long as your day lasts only two hours, and bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys. Subculture Coffee served alongside — a plus.

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Sushi fans will not be disappointed at AlleyCat. Photos provided

Maybe an Asian menu is what Mom chooses. At AlleyCat in Boca Raton (alleycatboca.com), the setting and food choices are izakaya — small, shareable plates that pair well with Japanese bar offerings. If you want to put an English spin on it, it’s a Japanese pub.

The food is in the hands of an experienced chef, Eric Baker, meaning unusual dishes that fuse a variety of cuisines. Sweet potato biscuits, a lobster and shrimp ceviche, snow crab tacos, wagyu pizza and lamb yaki noodles span a global menu. It’s all in a fun, upbeat setting.

If food isn’t the focus but an experience is, consider a cruise along the Intracoastal. Delray Yacht Cruises (delraybeachcruises.com) gives a two-hour tour along the waterway, with a light snack-type meal. The Lady Atlantic has three decks, including an open-air top deck. Guests board on the northeast side of the Atlantic Avenue bridge for the narrated excursion. The tour is available to private parties, as well.

Buffet etiquette
On Mother’s Day, many of the hotels and some restaurants offer buffets. Here’s a refresher on the etiquette at these serve-yourself meals.

Not a day for demands. Read menus online or ask ahead of time what’s offered. This is likely to be among establishments’ busiest days, and very few take special requests from buffet diners. If you have food allergies, you probably know buffets are a minefield. Choose a different restaurant, or when you call for reservations, get assurances that foods will be labeled.

Pace yourself. Most buffets offer multiple trips along the line. You can begin with only one plate for starters, salads or a bowl for soup. Return for a second main plate, and so on.

Don’t juggle plates when trying to get to your seat. That risks disaster.

Cleanliness is key. Do not return to a buffet with a dirty plate. Get a clean one for every trip through. Leave your silverware on the table. Handle serving ware on the line by the ends of the utensils. It’s fine to ask for clean ones if you notice food on the handles or if you spill.

Watch the children. Don’t let the kids grab anything off the buffet. No hands on anything but plates and utensils. Don’t allow children to run around and risk colliding with people carrying hot food.

Don’t waste. Take only enough for your normal appetite or to share with your table mates. Wasting food in today’s climate is in poor taste.

Tip the staff. Take a look at the crowds. Staffers are stretched to the max on this day. Be friendly, and tip over and above.

Christina’s closes
“It’s all about me,” Christina Betters said of closing her Greek-American cafe, Christina’s, in Delray Beach’s Pineapple Grove last month. “I’m tired.”

After 30 years in the business, with 15 in the former spot on Second Avenue, she’s taking time for her. In a few months, she’ll travel back to her homeland. “I’m planning to go back to Greece this summer.”

But the locals came out in droves to express their appreciation for her food and hospitality over the years. “It’s been overwhelmingly good. I didn’t realize it when I decided on closing. All my customers have been great,” she said.

There’s no more cafe in her future, so Betters said, “If anyone wants my soup recipe, I’ll give it to them.” That would be the avgolemono — Greek chicken, lemon and rice soup. “It freezes well, too.”

The other dish most requested, she said, was the Greek omelet.

Although she faced challenges lately with staffing, “it’s been a pleasuring serving all these years,” Betters said. Closing is “bittersweet.”

In brief

The Renaissance Hotel by the mall in Boca Raton got a multimillion-dollar face-lift, and its dining options now spread to around the pool where Wet is a spot for after-work gatherings. Look for a special drinks menu and bar foods from the Meat Market steakhouse in the hotel. ...

Mother’s Day diners may be looking for the popular brunch at the Sundy House in Delray Beach. The restaurant is still undergoing a massive renovation, and its status is “closed temporarily.”

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