Your Thanksgiving survival guide

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you ready? Don’t forget the pie!

It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving is just days away. Are you ready for the holiday?

The Grub HunterMike Hale, offered up a good rundown of local Thanksgiving dinner options, whether you’re staying in to dining out. Read it here, or it’s reposted below the fold for convenience.

I’ve come across a few additional Thanksgiving dinners worth mentioning . . .

Restaurant 1833 (Monterey) is offering a prix fixe dinner for Turkey Day. Chef Levi Mezick is preparing a four-course prix fixe dinner for $49 per person. The roasted squash salad sounds especially tempting. And don’t forget to pair dinner with one of bartender Mike Lay’s creative concoctions, like the holiday milk punch.

Check out the mouthwatering Thanksgiving dinner menu at Restaurant 1833.

Over in Carmel Valley, Lokal is offering a “six- to nine-course” meal with wine pairings for Thanksgiving for $65 per person. But there’s a catch–it’s not offered on Thanksgiving, but on the day before (Wednesday, November 22). Seating is limited, just 30 seats are available. Call 831-659-5886 to check on availability.

Cafe Lumiere has you covered if you need pie for your turkey dinner.

If you’re staying in, don’t forget the most important part of Thanksgiving dinner: pie. Chef Cirilo Aragon at Cafe Lumiere (Monterey) has you covered. His delicious pies–including pumpkin ($18), apple ($20) and chocolate pecan ($20)–are available for pick-up on Wednesday, November 21. Get your order in by Monday, November 19 to grab one of the best pumpkin pies in town!

A Guide to Dining Out for the Holiday
–Mike Hale

Our quest for convenience reaches critical mass during the holidays. A generation ago we started the Thanksgiving process days in advance, polishing silver, folding napkins, running down our shopping list. It became a week of painstaking preparation and perspiration.

This year, more than 32million of us will turn those duties over to a restaurant, with convenience the primary reason, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.

Our grandmothers would roll their eyes at such a thought, but busy, modern-day Americans don’t want the hassle, or the dishes, or that annoying uncle passed out in their Barcalounger after lapsing into a turkey coma.

Part of me fights against facilitating this trend away from home and hearth. But I figure if society wants such convenience, the least I can do is make appropriate recommendations. Following are some solid suggestions for buffets, sit-down dinners and to-go options for the big day:

Buffets

Asilomar Conference Grounds continues its annual tradition by feeding hundreds inside the newly renovated, Julia Morgan-designed Crocker Dining Hall. Look for a traditional buffet with turkey, ham and all the usual trimmings, along with chef Danny Abbruzzese’s special menu that includes unique California-inspired touches, such as grilled Castroville artichoke potato salad.

It runs from 12:30-6:30p.m. Cost is $50.02 and includes tax. Reserve a seating time at 372-8016.

TusCA at the Hyatt Regency Monterey has spared no expense this year, offering a lavish Thanksgiving Day Champagne dinner, with live accompaniment from the David Morwood Band.

Chef Russell Young has planned a chilled seafood bar, poke bar, salad station, pasta station and carving station (including sage-roasted turkey with sweet potato stuffing).

Reservations available from 2-8p.m. Cost is $48 for adults, $24 for children ages 5-12 (under 4 free). The price includes one glass of Champagne for adults over age 21. Call 657-6675.

Bernardus Lodge hosts a buffet with a blend of traditional favorites and chef Cal Stamenov’s gourmet twists. Following wine tasting and hot apple cider, the feast runs from noon to 3:30p.m., and the cost is $75 for adults, $32 for children (5-12; under 5 free). Reserve at 658-3400 (three-day cancellation policy).

Enjoy a farm-to-table Thanksgiving at Carmel Valley Ranch 11:30 a.m.-4:30p.m.) as chef Tim Wood cooks his apple cider-brined Diestel turkey breast, honey-lavender cornbread, smoked duck, maple butternut squashsoup, pumpkin pie and more. Unlimited mimosas will also be available for those of age. Cost is $45 for adults, $25 for children 5-12. Reserve at 620-6427.

Sit-down

Few restaurants have rolled out the red carpet better or for longer than Fandango, where Pierre and Marietta Bain elevate graciousness to an art form. For Thanksgiving, Fandango has planned special menus from noon-7:30p.m. for $34.95 plus tax and gratuity per person (children 12 and under $16.50).

Look for duck paté, Basque salad, roast turkey with giblet gravy, sliced New York strip, Virginia ham and tortellini maison.

Reservations required at 372-3456.

The Sardine Factory always puts out an impressive spread, the centerpiece its Diestel turkey with sage dressing. The four-course, prix-fixe menu is $45 for adults, $43 for seniors (60 and older), $19 for children under 12 (free 5 and under).

The Factory will also offer items from its regular menu. Call 373-3775.

Edgar’s at Quail Lodge offers both a three course prix-fixe menu ($32) as well as a la carte options (2-9p.m.). Look for roasted pumpkin soup, pomegranate salad, slow-roasted turkey, sausage-and-apple dressing, pumpkin pie and apple pie. Reservations: 620-8910.

Mission Ranch hosts a three-course Thanksgiving feast from 1-7:30p.m. Entrees include fresh salmon, roasted pork loin or free range turkey. Cost is $47 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under. Reservations: 625-9040 (three-day cancellation policy).

Aubergine in Carmel offers an amazing trio of entrees. Go traditional (sort of) with turkey, puree of pumpkin, chanterelles and pork belly. Or how about Maine lobster with brown butter, cranberry and brussels sprouts? The third option is ribeye with black tea, matsutake mushrooms and umeboshi (pickled plums).

Cost is $99 per person ($59 more for wine pairings). Seatings from 2-9p.m. Reservations: 624-8578.

Add a spectacular coastal view to your trimmings at Pacific’s Edge. Chef Matt Bolton has devised a four-course extravaganza, highlighted by the likes of yellowfin tuna, squab, day-boat scallops, John Dory and, of course, Diestel turkey.

Seatings are between 4-8p.m. (live music from 6-9p.m.). Cost is $95, plus tax and 18 percent gratuity, $45 for children 5-12 years old (under 5 free).

Reservations: 622-5445 (72-hour cancellation policy).

To-go

The best bargain belongs to the Monterey Cookhouse, offering individual turkey dinners (hand-carved bird, apple-almond stuffed, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, giblet gravy, vegetables and cranberry sauce) for $18.95.

This deal is valid to-go or as a sit-down option. Reserve a party for 10 or more (with 48 hours notice) and receive a free bottle of house wine for every four guests. Call 642-9900.

Carmel Valley Ranch also offers traditional turkey dinners to go. An apple-brined Diestel turkey will come complete with green beans, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and more. Two family-style sizes are available (4-6 servings at $225 and 7-14 servings at $425). Call 620-6427 to reserve.

Wild Thyme Deli and Café in Marina will provide gourmet Thanksgiving meals out the door. All orders need to be placed by Nov. 20. Call (884-2414) or stop by and have a menu emailed to you.

Dinner for two checks in at $50 plus tax, with a dinner for 10 set at $240.

Aqua Terra Culinary is a convenient holiday resource, from trendy small bites, to indulgent soups, to green bean casserole, to the centerpiece turkey. View the full menu at aquaterraculinary.com/menus.htm and follow the online ordering process, or call 657-9790. Cost starts at $35 per person.

Wild Plum Café and Bakery in Monterey will provide free-range organic turkeys and Thanksgiving pies. Turkey dinners are $25.50 per person, and whole cooked turkeys (stuffed) are $6.99 per pound, and individual sides (from garlic mashed potatoes to green beans and pearl onions) are available separately. Call 646-3109.

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