Those lazy, delicious (and slightly boozy?) brunches just don’t work when you’re the parents of kids who literally want to eat and run. Until the opening of the new Maple at Descanso Gardens. Serving up seasonal fare that will please your entire crowd in a gorgeous setting, Maple lets you linger while the kids can keep getting up to dart outside. Read on to learn about the new spot where you can enjoy the return of lazy weekend mornings.
Eye Candy, Inside and Out
Descanso Gardens has always been a lovely place to romp, wander and train ride with kids, but now there is an even greater pull. Patina Restaurant group, which runs the window service cafe at Descanso, is behind the hotly anticipated Maple restaurant. The 90 seat venue has just opened with brunch service on the weekends from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (for now, plans for dinner expansion are in the immediate works) and is a great way to either begin or end your visit to the gardens.
photo: Wendy C. via Yelp
This space is perfect for families looking for good flavor and comfort. The restaurant is rustic and charming in its minimalist design but doesn’t feel too precious for the inevitable spill or loud moment with the young ones. Walls are lined with oversized wooden spoons and rolling pins, flower arrangements bring the outdoors in, and the room spills into two outdoor patios that provide lots of natural light to draw you into the gardens. Kids can place their order and parents can watch (or take turns following) as they wander outside, waiting for their yummy food.
And Yummy It Is
Maple’s menu is the creation of Executive Chef Mark Salazar and is a nod to LA cuisine and his own love of Mexican fare. The menu includes brunch favorites like Brioche French toast and Eggs Benedict with brown sugar ham but also includes Huevos Rancheros with a twist (they’re served with braised short ribs) and Fried Chicken and Beignets—that creole specialty makes a lovely sub for the ubiquitous waffle. Be sure to try the “street fruit”—a plate of mango, pineapple, jicama and cucumber lined up beautifully and adorned with cotija cheese and tajin.
Picky Palate Pleasing
While most kids will totally love anything on the adult menu, truth be told the kid’s menu can be a life saver for parents of picky eaters. If your littles fall into that category, Maple has you covered. The menu has the staples like chicken tenders and fries, eggs and potatoes and even Franks and Eggs (yes, a hot dog cooked with scrambled eggs that will take you back to your own childhood). Plus, it doubles as a coloring page, crayons provided. If your young ones consider themselves too mature for a kid entree, but their stomachs can’t keep up with their intentions, you can split an entree with them. The lovely people at Maple will even cut a burger in half and serve it on separate plates for kids who can’t stand the thought of eating off the “extra” plate.
At Maple there’s a little something special for guests of all ages. After brunch, treat the family to the Banana Nut Muffin adorned with nutella, Chantilly cream and vanilla ice cream. The Maple Moscow Mule or the Tomatillo Bloody Mary, on the other hand, may be just what you parents need. You can walk it off with a postprandial stroll through the gardens.
Something Special for the Season
Maple opened in early October, and is currently just serving brunch on the weekends. If you’d rather hold out for dinner, the restaurant will be holding special evening hours from November 28-January 8 as part of Descanso’s Enchanted: Forest of Light event. Enchanted is a celebration of the holiday season with a one-mile walk through of elaborate lighting displays in the gardens, and you can dine before or after your lit walk.
Lunch or dinner, a stroll through Descanso’s beloved gardens is a perfect way to burn off that grub and complete your experience. Check out the camellias blooming in the Japanese Garden (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary), the hay maze in the main lawn and the Rose Garden to name a few highlights. And, of course, a ride on the Descanso train is a must for wee conductors. Check the Descanso website for other special events you can build your brunch plans around; there are also weekend storytelling performances and other holiday special events.
Maple at Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr
What’s your favorite easy brunch with kids? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
—LeTania Kirkland Smith