If you won't be gathered around the family table on Easter Sunday but you still want a memorable meal, you'll have plenty of options.
Restaurants around town will be serving up a little something extra. It's a good idea to call ahead for reservations. This isn't the busiest of days for eating out, but restaurants do appreciate a head count. And you'll find that many will be packed to capacity. To be sure you have a place at the table, do call ahead.
Back Inn Cafe in the Bluff View Art District, 412 E. Second St. The Easter brunch menu will feature an array of a la carte selections ranging from classic breakfast favorites to spring-inspired luncheon entrees, including a refreshing variety of main-course spring salad choices and chef's selections. Plus, it's a good place to enjoy the view. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations: 265-5033.
Broad Street Grille, 1201 Broad St. The restaurant's abundant offerings will revolve around the theme "Southern Style Easter Champagne Brunch." Choose from a variety of salads, such as Southern Cobb, on the chilled food buffet, then venture on to the chef's action station where bourbon- and brown-sugar-glazed ham will be carved. Other featured meats include rotisserie leg of lamb, grilled petite sirloin steaks and pan-seared cod filets. There also will be a complete breakfast buffet with an omelet station, poached eggs, fried green tomatoes, Southern buttermilk biscuits and so much more. Finish up with dessert, such as almond-apple bread pudding. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Price: $33.95 (adults), $16.95 (children 7 and up). Reservations: 424-3700.
Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market St. Hop aboard for the annual Easter extravaganza, complete with Easter ham and all the trimmings served in the lobby beneath the magnificent Grand Dome. There will be a pasta station with seafood and chicken dishes made to order, carved steamship round, honey-smoked glazed ham, lamb stew, country pate, deviled eggs, a nice selection of salads and a wide variety of desserts, such as the chocolate cobbler and cooked-to-order bananas Foster flambé. There will be a special buffet for children only. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Price: $26.95 (adults), $22.95 (seniors 65 and up), $13.95 (children 12 and under). Reservations: 308-2481.
Easy Bistro, 203 Broad St. The traditional bistro menu will be supplemented by some of chef/owner Erik Niel's wonderful specialties. Try not to load up on the delicious made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls before dinner. Prices are a al carte. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Reservations: 266-1121.
Stone Fort Inn, 120 E. 10th St. Celebrate Easter in the inn's historic dining room with made-from-scratch dishes perfect for the spring season, including sliced tenderloin of beef with an herb-wine reduction, seared halibut with sweet chili beurre blanc, herb-roasted chicken breast with scallion/cherry cream sauce, cheddar-bacon-tomato tart, spinach soufflé and French toast with creme anglaise and berry compote. Complete the meal with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys (an additional $10 per person). Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Price: $29.95 (adults), $14.95 (children 12 and under). Reservations: 267-7866.
212 Market, 212 Market St. Easter will bring a special buffet, with wonderful brunch selections followed by a huge dessert buffet. As always, the menu will focus on in-season basics for flavorful spring dishes. Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Price: $27 (adults), $11 (ages 12 and under). Call-ahead seating: 265-1212.
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Home cooks have made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and Easter will mark the end of this holiday culinary trifecta. What's interesting to note, however, is that while many menus are the same for the winter holidays, the food presentation for Easter is entirely different.
Rather than bland colors of turkey and stuffing, Easter can be one of the most colorful meals of all: glazed pink hams, yellow stuffed eggs, minted green peas, salads filled with bright fruits. Easter is a celebration of new life, and the foods served are a picture of the rebirth that spring brings.
Here's a recipe that I love for baked ham. It's just a little different from a typical brown-sugar glaze. I found the recipe at www.cooks.com.
Orange Ham Glaze
1 (7-ounce) bottle Sprite or other lemon-lime soda
1 (16-ounce) jar orange marmalade
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin orange sections
Maraschino cherries (optional)
In a blender, combine soda and marmalade, or stir by hand, until well blended. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
Begin baking ham according to directions. Forty minutes before ham has finished baking, begin spooning mixture over ham every 10 minutes. When ham has finished baking, garnish with mandarin orange sections and cherries.
Note: For a thicker glaze or to make ahead, bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.