It’s almost impossible to have Christmas Dinner out; restaurants just don’t do it. It’s the one holiday of the year when restaurant folks get the day off to celebrate with family and friends.
That’s not the case for Christmas Eve.
Many restaurants have taken to offering special menus for the night before. It’s become a big night for establishments that are favored for celebrations. Your anniversary or birthday go-to is likely to have something special happening on Christmas Eve.
Washington Prime in South Norwalk is just that kind of place. The Christmas Eve three-course dinner is a good deal at $75.00 per person. Entrees include Prime Rib, Rack of Lamb, Duck, Halibut and more. Ten appetizers and six desserts give plenty of choice. Some families come back year after year.
Millwright’s in Simsbury was just named the 2021 Connecticut Restaurant Association “Restaurant of the Year” in their annual CRAzies awards. I had already heard great things from my daughter and son-in-law who celebrated their anniversary there. On Christmas Eve they’ll be serving a four-course dinner for $75 that includes two courses of small plates, dessert (be sure to save room) and main courses like prime NY strip, steelhead trout and seared scallops. This menu is a winner!
In Ridgefield, Bernard’s matches old-school elegance with contemporary French cooking. All day on Christmas Eve from 1:00 to 7:30 a festive three-course dinner ($125) will be offered. Celebratory ingredients including foie gras, lobster, smoked salmon, duck, Beef Wellington, and venison medallions make the occasion memorable. Less sophisticated fare for the kids is $65. Sarah and Bernard just announced that the restaurant is for sale. This could be your last opportunity for Christmas Eve with them.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a tradition with roots in Italy. It has flourished across America, drawing on regional seafood for the menu. It originated in Catholic countries like Italy, where meat was not eaten on Christmas Eve.
With an extensive menu ($75) that includes lots of seafood and signature grilled steaks, all with an Italian accent, The Water’s Edge at Giovanni’s in Darien is another long-established restaurant that feels right for Christmas Eve. Wood paneling, professional service and excellent ingredients all make it a special occasion. If you order right and pass around the plates, you might be able to make your own feast of the seven fishes.
I prefer restaurants that offer a special menu for Christmas Eve. It streamlines the production and service. Demand is high and the family groups tend to be large. I’ve seen kitchens bog down, service slow, and reservations lag attempting a diverse and complicated a la carte menu. A limited menu, as long as it’s up to the restaurant’s usual standards, is a better bet.
In the Covid era, not everyone wants to eat out, but that doesn’t mean December 24th in the kitchen. With covid-honed skills, restaurants are ready to serve up fancy takeout feasts. Bruxelles in SoNo, for instance, is offering a lavish menu featuring prime rib with a bounty of sides for any size group. The award-winning Match Restaurant in Norwalk also offers a Prime Rib-based menu for pick up.
At Townhouse in Greenwich, chef Stephen Lewandowski has put together an elegant take-away menu that will serve 6 to 8. Main course options include beef tenderloin, wild king salmon or rack of lamb in addition to prime rib.
The always popular Cafe Allegre in Madison puts up trays and platters of their homey Italian fare that will feed a crowd. Pick up on Christmas Eve afternoon and heat them up on your own schedule. Chef’s instructions are provided.
For dinner on Christmas Eve reservations are essential.
Whatever you do – eat out, take out or cook in – Marsha and I wish you a delicious Christmas!
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.