Clara’s on the River
J’s first Mother’s Day was a lot of pressure for me. I wanted to do whatever she wanted to do, but I didn’t know what she wanted to do. Usually we meet our parents somewhere for brunch but her mom was in town last week and my parents are coming next week so we decided just to make this Mother’s Day about J.
I had come up with a few options for brunch, but still, wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. Saturday morning, I presented her with a few options and she chose the one I would have chose myself.
So, at about 10 AM on Saturday, I called Clara’s on the River in Battle Creek to see if they had any reservations left for Mother’s Day brunch….nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh?
The lady that answered the phone must have been laughing at me for waiting until the last minute. When she asked how many and I said two, she said they could probably make that work. She put me on hold for a second then came back and said 1:45 was the earliest they had left. I took it.
Clara’s on the River isn’t entirely new for J and I. Our first year in Lansing, we took J’s parents to Mother’s Day brunch at Clara’s Lansing Station. I remembered really liking the place. It had a great atmosphere and a really good brunch.
Clara’s on the River is a lot like Clara’s Lansing Station. It’s an old train station that has been turned in to a restaurant. The building was built in 1888 and served it’s former life as the Michigan Central Railroad Depot. There’s a really good history on their website if you’re interested.
The entrance to the parking lot is off McCamly Street just northeast of the river. There’s a large two level parking lot and as you would imagine on Mother’s Day, it was pretty full.
The entrance to the restaurant is all the way on the side of the building farthest from the road. It was actually a little hard to see where the front door was because there’s not really a grand entrance to the building. You sort of enter right below the clock tower and come in to a large space with tables in either direction.
There surprisingly wasn’t a wait which I was not expecting. We went to the hostess station to check in. Since we had the baby, they asked for a couple minutes to find a table where we could have her. It shouldn’t have been to much of a surprise because I made sure to tell them when I made the reservation.
After a short couple minutes, we were taken all the way through the restaurant to a booth in the area they called “the hallway.” This worked out perfectly because it was right next to the large buffet. We wouldn’t have to walk through the restaurant with plates of food.
Just like the Lansing restaurant, I loved the atmosphere of the place. They took the original structure and worked in tables and booths wherever they could. It’s not a traditional restaurant layout which is what gives this place so much charm.
A waitress came over not long after we sat down to take our drink orders. There was no drink menu given to us so J deferred to me to see if I would ask about it. I really didn’t want alcohol anyway, so I just ordered a Pepsi. J really wanted a Mimosa and asked if they had one. The waitress said they did, so that’s what she ordered along with a glass of water.
I let J hit the buffet first while I stayed with L. It didn’t take her long to fill up a plate and make her way back to the table. She seemed to stick to more of the lunch items on the buffet which made sense considering it was almost 2:00.
When it was my turn, I headed straight to the meat carving station. I asked for a piece of the beef and was cut off a very thick, large piece of beef. It was a very tender, almost buttery piece of medium rare beef with a delicious peppery crust. I could have just had that piece of meat and called it a day, but I’m glad I didn’t.
I bypassed both the omelet and waffle stations to head to the buffet area. On my first trip, I picked up a a scoop of a delicious mac ‘n cheese as well as a few pieces of bacon and some scrambled eggs. The mac ‘n cheese was so good I actually went back for seconds and the bacon was very crispy. The scrambled eggs were a little too watery for me. I only took a couple bites before pushing it aside.
On my second trip, I picked up an eggs Benedict. Yeah, an eggs Benedict on a buffet. I’m not sure I have ever seen this before. The English muffin, ham, and poached egg sit in the hotel pan without the sauce. There’s a little bottle next to the pan with the Hollandaise. I love this idea and the eggs Benedict was delicious. The second trip also included more bacon, more mac ‘n cheese and some buffalo wings which were nice and spicy. A perfect end to my brunch.
After the second plates, L was starting to get a little restless and we were both stuffed. J got up and walked with her as I finished up my lunch. We were both too stuffed for the dessert table which had all sorts of cakes and baked goods. When our waitress came back around, I asked for the check because a meltdown was imminent.
The bill for the two of us was a little over $50. The buffet’s were $19.99 a piece. Clara’s on the River turned out to be a fantastic choice and I’m glad I made the last minute reservation. The options on the buffet were more than just the typical stuff you find at most brunch places. They had a great selection of both breakfast and lunch food and some unique options (like the eggs Benedict) as well as the old standbys.