Egg Donor 

It's not just the thought that counts for Mother's Day.

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Once a year you're obligated to dress up the woman that hatched you and parade her forth into the mean streets, where you and your dam will of course be immediately scrutinized by every other Oedipal pair shuffling out for the annual errand. Best to make sure everything's ironed, everyone's sedated, and you've chosen a place to take her that sounds the right note of respect, honor and affordability. This Sunday, we help you answer that most important question:

Just how much do you love your mother?

Virginia Crossings Resort
1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen, 727-1480
Smoked salmon toast, shrimp bisque, pumpkin pancakes, bourbon barbecue brisket, oysters.

Distraction from guilt trip: Jazz duo.

Potential for backfire: Golf-cart hazard near the entry could force a "Caddyshack" send-up.

Wear anything from The Pink Palm.

Dining Room at The Berkeley Hotel
1200 E. Cary St., 780-1300
Fried-tomato crab-cake napoleon with Mary Washington sauce, Angus filet Rossini, lamb strip steak.

Bonus: Discreet place to discuss wills and estates.

Potential for backfire: Mom's ex might have booked a room for the mistress upstairs.

Wear pearls and Chanel.

The Jefferson Hotel
101 W. Franklin St., 788-8000
House-made ptés and terrines, seafood display, imported cheeses, chocolate saboyan cake

Note to black sheep: This one's already sold-out.

Potential for backfire: Weight Watchers redoubles its ambush-o-grams.

But vintage hats from Montaldo's still work.

The Boathouse
4602 Millridge Parkway, Brandermill, 744-2545
Fried shrimp, omelets, waffles
Generation-gap enhancers: Folk music from George Turman and a water view.

Potential for backfire: Asking Mom for gas money somehow deflates the occasion.

Wear anything from J. Crew.

Manakin Grill
12912 Plaza Drive, Goochland, 784-0544

Smoked turkey, salmon, ham, carved top round beef, house-made desserts.

Mother's little helpers: Full bar and a wine list that's affordable.

Potential for backfire: Long country drive with Mom could compound neurosis.

Come as you are.

(All prices are per person; tax and gratuity extra.)

Editor's note: Mother's Day is May 13, and always coincides with graduation exercises at University of Richmond. Many of the city's most popular restaurants will be full to bursting, and reservations are recommended, particularly for larger parties or the impatient. As one manager says, "Take Mom out any day but this Sunday — or expect it to be a zoo."

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