Making the feast easy
Some diners have no reservations about turning Thanksgiving dinner over to the professionals
These are some of the items that will be available for Thanksgiving dinner at Kali's Court restaurant in Fells Point. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / November 16, 2010)
Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant was once something only people in John Cheever stories would do, those lonely souls who were cut off from their families or who had drunk away their fortunes.
Now everybody's doing it. Or at least a lot more people.
Kali's Court in Fells Point opened for Thanksgiving for the first time only last year. Customers would continually encourage Kali's to open for Thanksgiving, says Darrin Mislan, operations manager of Kali's Restaurant Group, but Kali's tradition was to throw a big Thanksgiving party for its employees, many of whom are from Greece and Mexico.
Last year, Mislan said, a call came from the theater hosting the touring production of "Mamma Mia": Would Kali's Court open for these gypsies? They did open, and not only did the cast show up but the restaurant's regulars too. Now, the employee party takes place right after Thanksgiving is served to paying guests, and Kali's Court is easily able to find willing employees from the other restaurants in its group to pick up this holiday shift.
Although its sister restaurants in Philadelphia and Washington have been doing it for years, Baltimore's Prime Rib opened for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time last year. David Derewicz, the Mount Vernon restaurant's general manager, says that the maiden voyage was an enormous success, serving about 400 diners, about exactly half of whom, Derewicz says, went for the turkey. "People are looking for convenience," Derewicz says, explaining the appeal of a restaurant Thanksgiving.
That's a sentiment echoed by Rachel Winer Strickland. Her family's restaurant Thanksgivings began the year after the death of her grandmother, who had always hosted Thanksgiving dinner in her Massachusetts home.
"After she passed away," Winer Strickland said, "we wanted to start a new tradition." That first year, the family took a cruise, which they enjoyed, but it didn't feel right. That's when they started taking their turkey in restaurants.
Her Boston family is coming down to visit this year, but Winer Strickland is not keen on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. "Do I want to have it in my house, or I do want to go out? I can't take that much time off around the holidays."
They're going out. Not everyone in the family has embraced the tradition, though, but not because of any sentimentality about a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. "It's about the food," Winer Strickland says. Her father and her brother miss that day-after turkey sandwich.
Among the restaurants open for Thanksgiving day, some are offering fixed-price buffet-style dinners and some a fixed-price menu. A few restaurants are making its regular menu available, or selected items from it.
Below is a list of some of the options open this Thanksgiving Day. Reservations are strongly encouraged for all of these restaurants. The times listed are generally those of the first and last reservation taken.
Alizee (4 W. University Parkway, 443-449-6200, alizeebaltimore.com): The boutique bistro in the Colonnade is serving a fixed-price three-course dinner of traditional Thanksgiving food, along with a few regular-menu options. The cost is $26; $13 for children 10 and younger. Open 2 p.m.-7 p.m.
Brightons(550 Light St., 410-234-0550, harborcourt.com): The contemporary American restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel is offering two Thanksgiving Day options. Seatings for a buffet dinner are available at 11 a.m.,1 p.m. and 3 p.m. In the evening, the restaurant is offering a four-course fixed-price dinner. The cost for either option is $55 per person, $19 for children.
Bistro 300 (300 Light St., 410-528-1234, baltimore.hyatt.com): The Hyatt Regency's restaurant has two Thanksgiving Day options, too. Seatings for a jazz brunch buffet are available at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., at a cost of $39.95, $34.75 for seniors, $19.95 for children ages 5 to 12. The bistro is providing a scaled-down, first-come, first-served evening buffet from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The cost for this option is $19.95, $17.30 for seniors, and $9.95 for children ages 5 to 12.
The Belvedere (1 E. Chase St., 410-332-1000, http://www.meetmeathebelvedere.com): Truffles, the Mount Vernon landmark's in-house caterers, is serving a Thanksgiving buffet featuring traditional Thanksgiving food and Chesapeake favorites in the Charles Ballroom. The cost is $28.95 for adults, $25.95 for military and seniors, $14.95 for children ages 6 to 12. Open 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
Cafe Troia (31 Allegheny Ave., Towson, 410-337-0133, cafetroia.com): The Towson Italian restaurant is offering a $35 fixed-price traditional turkey dinner with the trimmings in addition to its regular menu of traditional and innovative Italian cuisine. Open 2 p.m.-9 p.m.
Charleston (1000 Lancaster St., 410-332-7373, charlestonrestaurant.com): Cindy Wolf's Harbor East restaurant is serving a $74 fixed-price Southern-influenced Thanksgiving dinner, including home-style sides and dessert. Open 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Della Notte (801 Eastern Ave., 410-837-5500, dellatnotte.com): The ornate Little Italy restaurant is offering a fixed-price turkey dinner. The cost is $27. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.