Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Dilemma - To Serve or Be Served?

As my parents live overseas, in Thanksgivings past I have been graciously hosted by families of some amazing friends, who were kind enough to take in a stray for the day.  This year, my brother and his wife will be visiting from Montreal and staying with me for a month (starting mere days after I move!) so I'll be playing hostess for once during a hectic time. 

And so I have a confession to make: I've never cooked a whole turkey in my life - and have no idea what to do with a bird that size!  Though it could be an exciting culinary adventure, and possibly a fun day-long activity for all of us - whipping up all kinds of sides in the kitchen together while the turkey's in the oven - it could also be a DIY disaster.  The planner in me went immediately to work looking for backup dine-out options that I suspect will quickly turn into our preferred choice.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the restaurants (aka lifesavers / my personal heroes) that will be open Thanksgiving day - and some of the very creative interpretations of the traditional holiday meal, that they will be offering. 

Here are a few highlights of the most exciting menus for those who may also find themselves looking to dine out this holiday:

Molecular Gastronomy Thanksgiving:
The Bazaar by José Andrés is offering a five course prix fixe menu for $65 including their take on Turkey, Brussel Sprouts with 'lemon air', Papas Canarias, a spinach dish, and a sweet potato dessert.  The SLS Hotel is also offering a prix fixe brunch 11am-3pm for $59, a tasting menu for $65 and carving station with traditional turkey and trimmings for $49 November 25-28 starting at 5pm.

Vampires Beware Thanksgiving:
The Stinking Rose's $29.95 prix fixe dinner is not for the faint of heart! The three-course meal starts with a House Salad, then moves onto a 400 Clove Garlic Roasted Turkey With All The Trimmings, and finishes with Pumpkin Pie Ala Mode.  You can get a child's portion of the same menu at $19.95.

Land and Sea:
Trader Vic's Polynesian four-course dinner for $45 - Lobster Stuffed & Shrimp with kaffir lime bearnaise Asian pesto, Mixed Green Salad, Choice Of Stuffed Drunken Turkey Or Trio Of Squash, and choice of Pumpkin Tart or Apple Pecan Bread Pudding.

Patina Chef Tony Esnault's $70 prix fixe four-course Thanksgiving menu features two choices within each course - including Maine Lobster & Chestnut Velouté, Butternut Squash Risotto, Roasted Organic Turkey or Seared Day Boat Scallops, and Piedmont Hazelnut Sponge, Whole Wheat Tuile with Ovaltine Rum Ice Cream!

AYCE - Get Stuffed the Gourmet Way Thanksgiving:
By the Beach:  Whist at the Viceroy in Santa Monica is offering a gourmet Thanksgiving Buffet From 1pm-7pm. Chef Tony Disalvo Is Preparing A Special Feast!

Beverly Hills:  The Restaurant at L'Ermitage will be presenting "Thanksgiving Buffet To Satisfy Even The Most Discriminating Palates" for brunch - cost is $80 per adult, $45 for children 10 and under.  They had me at 'Caviar Station'!!! (Oysters, shrimp, smoked & shell fish are also involved, in addition to the requisite turkey and ham)

Religieuse Experience?:
Pinot Bistro's $45 three course Thanksgiving menu offers choices of first, main and dessert including Roasted Pumpkin Soup with spiced creme fraiche, or Smoked Salmon with buckwheat blini, egg mimosa, chives, and citrus; Roasted Turkey With Sweet Potato Gratin; and the dessert with the most awesome name so far - "Pumpkin and Hazelnut Religieuse".

And if you make your reservations through OpenTable, you can also earn points towards an OpenTable gift certificate when you check in at the restaurant, depending on your selected venue, date and time.  There is truly SO much to be thankful for this season! :)

So after perusing all the incredible menus, I think I've pretty much decided we're eating out.  Especially since my brother and his wife are considering moving to much sunnier SoCal, this might be a great time to add 'good eats' as another 'plus' to their list of reasons why they should.

*For those who feel like having restaurant fare at home - Susan Feniger's STREET is offering Tandoori turkey breast, lobster, lamb roast or jackfruit with an eclectic list of mouth-watering sides like Pandan and Coconut Creamed Corn and Spaghetti Squash with Chipotle Honey Butter.  Tandoori dishes run $15-$25 per person, and side dishes are 3 for $40, 5 for $55, and 7 for $65 (most sides serve up to four people).  Order at least 3 days in advance - last day for pickup is Wednesday, November 24th. See menu via link above for details.

A great take home dessert option is of course Tartist, whose apple tart was so amazing that I still remember the taste from Artisanal LA a couple weeks back.  They have a 'Special Pumpkin' pie on ginger crust that I can't wait to try, and of course, I have already ordered an Apple tart with apple slices, rosewater, persian-honey-vinegar glaze, and crushed pistachios on mascarpone and a french crust!  Even if I'm eating out, I just want to have these tarts around over the holidays for the fam to discover and enjoy :)  Bringing a Tartist creation to Thanksgiving (if you have any foodies in your midst) *will* make you a rock star at dinner.  Orders close November 14th for pick up Wednesday or Thursday 11/24 or 11/25.


  1. a hint: you needn't cook an entire turkey. we NEVER do. that's too... insane. we just get a turkey breast or two, depending on the number of guests. cheating? nah. thanksgiving is all about enjoying the day - and food with friends and family, and it's too hard to do that when you're worried about the fact that your ginormous turkey is still frozen in the middle at 4pm. ;)

  2. Haha good point / idea :) Though now that all those chefs' menus have lit my eyes on fire, it's hard to go back to the idea of DIY :P



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