For me, New Year's Eve has always been daunting; I'm exhausted from the weeks leading up to Christmas, there is too much pressure to have fun, the only dress that looks good on me is too skimpy for the freezing weather, and there is so much going on that the question of what to do is enough to send me crawling back under my comforter (please see the restaurant notes for just a small sampling of the many, many special New Year's Eve dinner options). There is one thing I do know, though. On New Year's Day, I want to roll out of bed some time in the afternoon, wipe the smudged mascara from my bleary eyes, and go get some breakfast. A nice bloody mary completes the fantasy.
Unfortunately, a fantasy is what it is. Almost no one in these parts is serving brunch on New Year's Day. I understand that most waiters and cooks will have given up the best part of their New Year's Eve to serve the public, and it would be cruel and unusual to require them to show up again early the next morning to help the rest of us nurse our hangovers. But come on! Aren't there any old fashioned restaurant owners (i.e. slave drivers) around any more? Even Breadman's, Chapel Hill's greasy-breakfast-all-day-long mainstay, will be closed (although they will be hosting a party the night before).
So where are we to get our greasy breakfasts? Our good luck collard greens and black-eyed peas? Our hangover cures? There are a few places that are soldiering on for all of our sakes. Mama Dip's in Chapel Hill will be serving a traditional Southern New Year's Day dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. featuring roast pork for good health, collard greens for wealth, black eyed peas for good luck, and candied yams because they taste good.
In my opinion, nothing cures a hangover better than a huge steaming bowl of pho, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup that comes with your choice of meat or vegetables, and chilies, lime, bean sprouts and fresh herbs on the side to mix in. Kim-Son at 2425 Guess Road, right off I-85 in Durham has an intensely comforting array of soups, and will be open on New Year's Day for lunch and dinner.
Monterrey restaurant, on Elliot Road in Chapel Hill, serves a good, cheap version of chilaquilles, a traditional Mexican hangover cure made up of corn tortillas layered with a rich chili sauce and pulled chicken. They'll also be open for lunch and dinner on New Year's Day, and if you're the hair-of-the-dog type, they also serve the cheapest, strongest margaritas around.
For a big, cholesterol breakfast, you're best bet is Big Ed's restaurant at the city market in Raleigh, which serves traditional Southern food as well as breakfast all day. Well, all day is an overstatement--they close at 2 p.m., so don't lie around in bed for too long if you hope to make it (I'm assuming they'll be pretty busy). You'll be able to get your greasy breakfast here, and your peas and collards.
So there is hope for me after all. I may not get the swanky brunch I wish for, but I can get my New Year's good luck without having my very own Southern grandmother, and I can find food to soothe my aching head and queasy stomach if it comes to that. On New Year's Day, roll out of bed, wipe the mascara from your eyes, and wherever you end up eating, be thankful that someone was willing to give up their New Year's Day to serve you. And remember to tip well.
The Cockeyed Chef on Glenwood Avenue will be featuring a New Year's Eve menu made up of customer favorites and chef's specials from 2003. They will be serving from 6 p.m. to midnight. Reservations are recommended. For more information, call 743-0560.
Enoteca Vin on Glenwood Avenue will be offering a five-course prix fixe New Year's Eve menu, which includes a glass of champagne. The cost is $75 a person. Wine flights will also be offered, with your choice of mid-priced wines or high-end wines. For reservations, call 834-3070.
Vivo Ristorante & Mercato on Glenwood Avenue will be serving a prix fixe New Year's Eve menu. For $85 a person, you'll get a five course wine dinner, champagne toast, and free admission to Bogs & Hi5. After 11 p.m., Jason Marks will provide entertainment. For more information and reservations, call 835 --1322.
Maximillians at 8314 Chapel Hill Rd. in Cary will be hosting an a la carte dinner for New Year's Eve, with complimentary champagne at midnight. Owners Michael and Gayle Schiffer will also be hosting a special wine dinner on Jan. 22. The dinner will begin at 7 p.m., include five courses and wine chosen by the chef. It is $75 a person. For reservations to either of these events, call 465-2455.
Nana's will be hosting New Year's Eve dinner for the twelfth year in a row, with a $75 six-course prix fixe menu that includes a glass of champagne. Creamed porcini soup with shaved Perigourd truffles, lobster over leek risotto, and sea bass with osetra caviar in sea urchin broth are just a few of the menu items. For reservations, call 493-8545.
George's Garage, 286-4131, will host its annual New Year's Eve party with a la carte dining from 5 to 7 p.m., and a prix fixe $45 per person menu from 7-midnight. The party will feature dancing to music by Big Rick and the Bombers.
Four Square on Chapel Hill Road will be serving a four-course New Year's Eve menu for $68 per person from 5:30 to 10 p.m. For reservations, call 401-9877.
Lantern restaurant at 423 W. Franklin will be serving a $49 a person prix fixe menu for New Year's Eve. Dinner will be three courses and include a champagne toast. Vegan options will be available. Reservations will be accepted for parties of any size. Check out the menu at www.lanternrestaurant.com. For reservations, call 969 8846.
Elaine's on Franklin will be serving a seven-course New Year's Eve menu for $99 per person. Wine pairings are available (the $99 menu includes a glass of champagne). Reservations are being taken for between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. only. Check out the menu at www.elainesonfranklin.com or call 960-2770 for reservations.
Spice Street will be holding two New Year's Eve seatings. Early in the evening the restaurant will serve a la carte, and will be geared towards families and couples who want an early New Year's Eve dinner (beginning from 5:30-6:30 p.m.). The second seating will be at 8:30 and will be a semi-formal to formal (but not black tie) gala, featuring a prix fixe menu, party favors and dancing. The price is $60 per person, and reservations are recommended. Also at Spice Street, the "Roy Williams Live Radio Show" is hosted every Monday night from 7 to 8 p.m. throughout the college basketball season. Diners can watch the show and participate in asking questions. This event has been selling out, so reservations are strongly recommended.
If you really want to go all out on New Year's, The Siena Hotel has New Year's Eve packages that start at $400 per couple (including tax and gratuity). The packages include overnight stay, champagne on arrival, dinner at Il Palio, dancing and more, as well as breakfast the next morning. For more information about the different packages visit www.sienahotel.com, or call 929-4000.
Tupelo's in downtown Hillsborough is featuring a four-course meal plus wine, party favors and admission to their after-dinner party featuring the blues and rock band The Tele-vandulists. The price is $50 a person (plus tax and tip), and seatings are every hour from 5 to 9 p.m. Call 643-7722 for reservations.