Mother’s Day, Belfast Style

Technically, it was Mothering Sunday, but for the merchants and restaurants, it definitely was Mother’s Day…in the UK.

Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent, a time to visit one’s “mother” church, but, I guess like Black Friday sales, this is another instance where the UK appropriated a so-so American tradition and made it its own. Flowers, cards, chocolates, special meals for mom and much more were on offer this year.

The Wellington Park Hotel down the street from the flat advertised a three-course carvery meal for 23 pounds, but food with any hint of gravy doesn’t work with my onion allergy. So Marilynn opted for Pizza Express, a UK chain that does sell pizza, but not very expressly. I get the feeling she would have been just as happy with a meal at home, although she was the one who started us going to Pizza Express, which she remembered from her grad-school days in Oxford.

Pizza (not so) Express

Pizza Express has been around for 50 years, and folks still go there in droves, so I guess everyone realizes by this time that Express is a suggestion, like hoping the cable guy shows up on the front end of the four-hour service window. During our sojourn in England earlier this month, there was a Pizza Express in every city we visited except for Lyme Regis, which is tiny. St. Ive’s ain’t much bigger, but there was a PE right along the waterfront. Falmouth, too.

Although there is a Pizza Express on the Lisburn Road that’s closer to our flat, we went to a city centre location after seeing “Beauty and the Beast.” Again, Marilynn likely couldn’t be bothered with the movie, but Declan and I wanted to see it.

We ordered, and the food arrived very quickly, possibly because we each ordered thin-crust pies. “Oh, things have changed since past visits,” I think to myself. And then time stood still. Don’t get me wrong, the food was spot-on like it usually is, and we had a great time overall.

But there is a natural flow to the sit-down restaurant experience that this chain violates every time, every location I visit. Not sure where our server got off to, because we suddenly got another server, who we quickly remembered from a visit four years ago—even recalling where we had been sitting in the same restaurant.

He’s been with the restaurant for 10 years and is a credit to the company and the location. I remembered him making a cool paper airplane, and he made a new one for Declan, much to everyone’s delight.

We did order dessert (it was Mother’s Day, after all), but requested the check at the same time, because we could have been there all night.

Just like the rest of the day, however, our visit hit the spot.

Note: My Thanks to Dann Maurno for the reference to Mothering Sunday, which the holiday was still called when he lived in the UK as a child. And it probably wasn’t quite so festive.

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