Brunch gets plenty of attention as a Sunday dining destination, but operators are increasingly seeing the benefits in creating designated menus for the dinner daypart as well. Restaurants are approaching Sunday suppers with various strategies to get customers in the door on what can typically be a slower night. Some offer multicourse meals that are priced lower than an appetizer-entree-dessert combo from the regular dinner menu, while others target families with children or diners looking for a special culinary experience. As a plus, these menus are usually pared down to fewer items and served family-style, saving labor in both the back and front of house. Here are six approaches to Sunday suppers at full-service restaurants.
1. Lucques' long-running seasonal spins
With a cookbook titled “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” this West Hollywood, Calif., restaurant is often credited with pioneering the trend. Chef-owner Suzanne Goin introduced her three-course Sunday dinner series in 1998 and it’s still going strong. The $52 prix-fixe menu changes seasonally, with customers choosing from entrees such as grilled chicken breast with locally grown spinach and lipstick peppers, and king salmon with spiced cauliflower, along with an appetizer and housemade dessert. Wine is extra.
2. Bottlefork's global comfort foods
Chicago restaurant Bottlefork is much newer to the Sunday supper scene, launching its first Classic Comfort Sunday in March. According to parent company Rockit Ranch, the promotion can “help guests stave off their ‘Sunday scaries’ and anxiety about going back to work on Monday by experiencing classic comfort foods from around the world.” The April menu features a three-course Italian meal for $25, including arugula salad, pork shank osso buco with polenta, and an amaro and cherry sundae. May's menu is focusing on Germany, with potato cakes, beer-braised bratwurst and Black Forest chocolate cookies.
3. Steak + Vine sets a family table
Another recent Sunday supper convert is Steak + Vine in La Grange, Ill. The restaurant debuted its $25 prix-fixe menu to pay homage to the Sunday tradition of sitting down to supper with family and friends, according to the marketing team. Customers can choose from several options for each of the three courses, with meatloaf, shrimp penne with vodka sauce, and fried chicken on the entree list. Starters include soup, salad or baked cheese, with a housemade s’mores pie concluding the meal.
4. Tulalip Bay targets foodies
This restaurant, located in the Tulalip Resort Casino in Tulalip, Wash., offers a special menu on the first Sunday of every month. There’s one seating at 5:30 p.m. at the communal table, allowing guests to interact with the chef. Unlike other Sunday suppers, this one is geared toward food enthusiasts, starting with molecular cocktails followed by a sustainable, locally sourced five-course menu for $100 per person. Dishes on a recent pork-centric menu included smoked belly confit with compressed watermelon, cucumber, basil and feta, and sous vide and grilled pork shoulder.
5. The Palm's take on tradition
This high-end Chicago steakhouse invites guests to “start a new tradition” with its new monthly changing Sunday supper series. February was all about filet mignon, lobster tail or lump crab cakes as the entree in a $49 dinner, rounded out with family-style sides; but for April, The Palm limits the choice to its signature chicken Parmigiana and offers it at a lower price of $29.
6. Gather's family-friendly focus
As its name implies, this neighborhood Chicago restaurant offers a nurturing atmosphere with a menu to match. Gather’s Sunday suppers offer familiar foods served family-style, with wide enough appeal for parents with young children as well as customers looking for full-flavored dishes at a value price. Honey-drizzled fried chicken, handmade pasta, house-smoked brisket and Yukon gold potato salad with garlic aioli are some of the choices. Sunday suppers go for $26 per adult; kids under 10 are free, but parents are limited to just one complimentary child’s meal.