Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for eating out. For those who would prefer to have their cooking done for them, many restaurants put on a traditional feast. Not all restaurant settings are right for the holiday meal, but in New England we’re blessed with plenty of of Inns and historic restaurants that are just the ticket for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a busy day that requires careful planning and days of preparation and cooking – just like at home.
Looking into the dining rooms, you’ll see large family groups with three or more generations at the table; couples a long way from home; families creating their own Thanksgiving tradition and groups that have met for a destination dinner. Some have too many to cook for at home and some have too few to justify cooking the whole feast. Some clearly prefer to eat out and others are meeting family or friends at the halfway point between homes. It’s always a festive group, out on a day when the dinner is the main event.
New England ambiance is the preferred atmosphere for Thanksgiving dinner, after all, it started here with the Pilgrims. Even in other regions of the country, our New England culture is the language of Thanksgiving. The most popular venues are antique filled Country Inns or rustic barns converted to charming restaurants. Locally we’re fortunate to have lots to choose from including The Red Barn, Cobbs Mill Inn, The Long Ridge Tavern, The Redding Roadhouse and The Roger Sherman Inn. These places have the right feel for Thanksgiving Day. Reserve early, they’re booking up.
Beyond the world of New England ambiance, most of the restaurant industry takes the day off. Themed restaurants, even the high end examples, are usually closed. They wouldn’t get a crowd offering Thanksgiving dinner in an Italian, Nuevo Latino, or Sports Bar environment. Some pubs open in the evening and ethnic take-out is always available.
As I said before, its a busy day and reservations are essential. Call ahead and be flexible on the time you want to eat. The restaurant will do its best to honor your reservation, but things can go wrong – so be ready to go with the flow. If your table is booked prior to your reservation and the earlier seating is late because of traffic on the Merritt Parkway, then you’ll be seated late and the Manager will be having a tough day. Not much can be done about it.
The staff cooking and serving are working on Thanksgiving Day, not because they particularly want to, but because it goes with the territory. If you work in that kind of restaurant, then you work the holidays – no choice. Its a long hard day for them. Be thankful for their work, appreciative of their time with you and generous with compensation.
At the Silvermine Tavern we used to serve Thanksgiving Dinner all day long, noon to 7:00. Turkey was the choice of ninety percent – mostly a mix of white and dark meat, but there were over 100 requests for either all white or all dark. The non-turkey choices were filet mignon or salmon. Everyone got all the fixins – mashed potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, creamed onions, chestnut stuffing, gravy and scratch made cranberry sauce. Of course there were soups and salads to start, a bountiful bread basket, pie for dessert and mixed nuts and chocolate mints to finish – the whole feast, soup to nuts.
At home or in a restaurant, enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. Look for next week’s column (published on Thanksgiving day) for some thoughts on Thanksgiving dinner at home.
Cobbs Mill Inn – Noon to 6:00
12 Old Mill Rd, Redding, CT 06896
(203) 227-7221 www.CobbsMillInn.com
Red Barn Restaurant – Noon to 6:00
292 Wilton Rd, Westport, CT 06880
(203) 222-9549 www.redbarnrestaurant.com
The Redding Road House – Noon to 5:00
406 Redding Rd, Redding, CT 06896
(203) 938-3388 www.reddingroadhouse.com
Roger Sherman Inn – Noon to 6:00
195 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT 06840
(203) 966-4541 www.RogerShermanInn.com
Long Ridge Tavern – Noon to 6:00
2635 Long Ridge Rd, Stamford, CT 06903
(203) 329-7818 www.LongRidgeTaverCT.com