An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 23, 2013
05:52 AM
The Connecticut Table

How About Thanksgiving in a Connecticut Restaurant This Year?

How About Thanksgiving in a Connecticut Restaurant This Year?

      Why do so few restaurants serve Thanksgiving dinner? For one thing, the humble turkey is too, well, ordinary for restaurants to charge top dollar for, so it’s not really worth their while. And even if they wanted to, few have ovens large enough to accommodate multiple large birds. Then there’s the fact that the majority of Americans—restaurant employees included—revere Thanksgiving as a home-centered family event, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

      But if this is the year you’ve decided to throw in the towel and let someone else do the cooking (and deal with the mountain of dishes), there’s a pretty select group of restaurants out there to choose from. Here are some standouts at various price points.

COUNTRY LUXE

     The grand old Mayflower Inn in Washington, now a Grace Hotel, will host a grand three-course repast in splendid surroundings. Appetizers include apple-and-heirloom-squash soup, stuffed cremini mushrooms and maple butter poached lobster. Entrées: traditional slow-roasted Tom turkey, Indian roasted salmon, rack of Hatfield Farm pork, and vegetarian pumpkin risotto with autumn vegetables. For dessert, there’s pumpkin crème brûlée tart, warm cranberry pear crisp and Caraibe chocolate mousse.

     12 to 7, reservations required; $85, children $39.

      The Mayflower Inn, 118 Woodbury Rd., Washington, 860/868-9466, mayflowerinn.com.

HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND

     What better setting for a traditional feast than Millwrights Restaurant & Tavern, set in a 1680 mill overlooking a pond and waterfall? And that goes double when the bill of fare is “inspired New England cuisine” by acclaimed chef Tyler Anderson. After a first course of pickled beets, kale salad with roasted squash, chestnut-and-squash soup or seared foie gras with pickled peach purée, entrées will include beef tenderloin, baked salmon, roast pork and turkey breast and confit leg, along with several sides served family-style (cornbread stuffing, potato purée, roast cauliflower gratin). Save a little room for an “assortment of Thanksgiving treats.”

     11:30 to 7:30; adults $55. $25 for children 11 and under.

     Millwrights Restaurant and Tavern, 77 West St., Simsbury, 860/651-5500, millwrightsrestaurant.com.

GREENWICH MODERN

     Thanksgiving is buffet-style at sleek Eleven14 Kitchen in Greenwich, where the groaning board will feature pumpkin soup with Maine lobster, kale salad with ricotta and pomegranate, carrot-and-butternut-squash salad; roast turkey, striped bass and seafood casserole and smoked pork loin; mashed sweet potato, Brussels sprouts with bacon, caramelized-onion-and-cornbread stuffing and creamed spinach. Traditional (but by no means ordinary) desserts (seven in all) include pecan pie with bourbon, cheesecake with sour cream icing and chocolate double layer cake.

     12 to 7; $75.

     At JHotel, 1114 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203/698-6999, eleven14kitchen.com.

UPSCALE STEAKHOUSE

    A four-course feast in Octagon Steakhouse’s handsome dining room in the Mystic Marriott include your choice of Harvest Salad (roasted beets, turnips, pecans) or hearts of romaine; an appetizer of pumpkin sage ravioli or butternut bisque; and three entrées: pan-seared salmon, New York strip or Apple Herb Brined turkey with all the fixin’s—chestnut stuffing, mashed potato duet, roasted shallot gravy, green beans with fried onions and cranberry compote. For dessert there’s apple caramel cake, triple chocolate torte and pecan pie with vanilla gelato.

12 to 9; $45.

Mystic Marriott, 625 North Rd., Groton, 860/326-0360, octagonsteakhouse.com

NORWICH IDYLL

     It’s hard to do Kensington's grand buffet justice, at least in this limited space, but here goes. There are bakery offerings, artisanal cheeses, two soups, a seafood display of oysters, clams and shrimp with three sauces, two salads—and that’s just for starters. There’s a carving station with Rosemary & Sea Salt Crusted Prime Rib, and Apple Cider & Vanilla Brined Pork Loin with apple-and-cinnamon compote, a pasta station, and then a whole Hot Foods Buffet that includes roasted turkey with giblet gravy and sausage, sage & apple stuffing; baked salmon with wild rice pilaf; and lots of tasty side dishes. For children who don’t like any of that (we don’t know any), there’s a kids’ buffet of chicken fingers, curly fries, hot dogs and the like. All this plus an elaborate dessert display of whole cakes, pies & mini pastries. For our money, this may be the best deal around.

    11:30 to 3, $39.95. Adults $39.95; kids 6-12 $14.95, age 5 and under free.

    The Spa at Norwich Inn 607 West Thames St., Norwich, 860/425-3630, thespaatnorwichinn.com

SHORELINE GEM

    For an elegant repast in a beloved country inn, the Bee & Thistle is hard to beat. Following a soup (Fall squash bisque) and salad course (Autumnal greens with goat cheese), you have your choice of three entrées: grilled filet of beef tenderloin with mustard sauce; roasted Atlantic salmon, with star anise buerre blanc and all-natural roasted turkey with apple-fennel cornbread stuffing. All are served with cranberry-orange chutney, roasted root vegetables and whipped potatoes. Dessert: old-fashioned apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan-praline tart, along with Ashlawn Farm coffee and Harney & Sons Tea.

    Seatings at 12, 1, 2, 2:30, 3:15, 4:15. Adults $65, kids under 12 half price

    100 Lyme St., Old Lyme, 860/434-1667, beeandthistleinn.com

LIFE AT THE TOP

     If you want your traditional meal in a very untraditional setting, reserve a table at Foxwoods showpiece Paragon, on the 23d floor of the Pequot Tower, and let chef Scott Mickelson work his magic. Following an amuse bouche and a choice of pumpkin bisque or baby iceberg salad, you and your family get a whole roasted turkey, carved tableside, with a slew of accompaniments—whipped potatoes, giblet gravy, mashed turnips, rosemary-roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts with hazelnut butter, stuffing and fresh cranberry relish. Dessert will be pumpkin-date tart or chocolate goat cheesecake. And you won’t miss out on turkey sandwiches the next day: You get to take what’s left of the bird, and all the other leftovers home afterward. There's also a limited specials menu for those who want something else, but "Ninety percent of my business is turkeys," says chef Scott Mickelson.

    1 p.m. to 8. Adults $65, kids $25.

    Grand Pequot Tower, Foxwoods, 860/312-5130, foxwoods.com.

How About Thanksgiving in a Connecticut Restaurant This Year?

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