Easter and Mother's Day are the two high-holiest of spring buffet holidays, probably because both are family-centric and fall on Sunday. I don't have kids, live near my family, or go to mass with any regularity, so I can't remember the last time I actually went to an Easter buffet. That will change today when we go with a group of friends, and one 6-month old, to the Ritz Carleton's buffet this afternoon. Such a feat requires a strategy. Here's mine:
1) Reservations are required. This is not a drop-in dining moment, at the five-star hotel buffets in particular. My friend Nicole booked ours a while ago and she's sent email updates to remind us to be on time. She isn't paranoid. I remember managing the Easter reservations at the corporate club where I worked ages ago, and the rule for late-comers was You Snooze, You Lose...or at least get put on stand-by, because we gave your table away after 10 minutes. Nicer restaurants are a good alternative, and there's usually less Darwinism. I just checked Open Table, and plenty of great spots are still open starting at 1:00 today, including Spiaggia, Aigra Doux, Farmerie 58, Brasserie Jo, Graham Elliot, and the Gage.
2) Skip one meal today. Otherwise your're just asking for love handles and acid reflux.
3) Definitely work out twice this weekend. Hard.
4) Do not show up famished. Have a light snack before if necessary.
5) Start with the lighter items - soups, salads, fruit, crepes. Visiting these stations first is always a wise strategy to avoid misery later because it avoids filling up on the heavy stuff too fast.
6) On the second trip, look for something dazzling and enjoy an RDA portion. Then revert back to the lighter stuff if there's any room left. If I have dessert, it'll be fruit-based.
7) Try to keep it down to 2-3 glasses of wine. Today's feast is with our friends who own Just Grapes, so this will pose a challenge since we tend to order bottles by the round with them... It's okay to substitute one specialty cocktail, but just one. After two I'm sauced and my entire playbook goes out the window.
8) Do not hit the couch post-buffet for a couple of hours. Since Chicago's Easters are usually frigid, this usually means window shopping indoors or getting creative.