Few holiday meals pack as much reverence for tradition as Thanksgiving dinner—or at least the sort home cooks will platter and lug to the table by the millions this Thursday. The versions being pushed by restaurants are a different matter, as a last-minute check of their turkey day menus reveals. Smelling opportunity, a number of commercial kitchens are pushing big-ticket offers that are unlike anything grandma has ever whipped up.
Here’s a look at some ideas that could be co-opted by noncommercial facilities looking to showcase something different this year.
Turkey dinner in a jar
The Kingbird restaurant inside Washington, D.C.’s storied Watergate Hotel is offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and green beans, but the presentation is anything but usual. Chef Michael Santoro is layering the elements in an oversized jar, forming a meal that in some ways resembles the colored sand sculptures sold at beach resorts. The bottled feast, available Monday through Saturday, sells for $60. Kingbird says each jar should feed two to four people. Santoro is providing the recipe for anyone who wants to craft their own layered jar meal out of leftovers from turkey dinners cooked at home.
Photograph: Watergate Hotel’s Kingbird Restaurant
A very veggie Thanksgiving
The plant-forward trend is going strong this holiday season, at least in the kitchens of the Veggie Grill fast-casual chain. Though Dec. 20, the meatless operation is offering a Holiday Feast that mimics a classic Thanksgiving or Christmas Day repast: a “holiday roast” accompanied by cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed yams, a cauliflower-mashed potatoes blend, porcini gravy and cranberry sauce. Designed to feed four people, the meal is priced at $74.99. Customers can add extra sides for $12.95 each, or a four-pack of pumpkin cakes for dessert for $15.95.
Per-person Thanksgiving options include the Holiday Dinner Plate (a sampling of all that’s listed above for $12.95) and the Thanksgiving Sandwich (rosemary “chicken” with cornbread dressing, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce and vegan mayonnaise on a steak roll, served with mashed yams, $11.50).
Photograph: Veggie Grill
A turducken sandwich
Chef Paul Prudhomme’s novel poultry build—a chicken tucked inside a duck that’s then inserted into a turkey, with the whole thing roasted as one—may be familiar to any foodie. The Potbelly Sandwich Shop fast-casual chain is offering an unusual riff, a sandwich based on the three-in-one holiday specialty. Its sandwich version features sliced turducken garnished with cheddar cheese, cranberry sauce, mayo, lettuce, tomato and Italian dressing. The version served on a roll sells for around $9.10. The oversized version goes for $10.75. Or the turducken can be served on a flatbread for $9.20. Each version packs about 640 calories, according to Potbelly’s website.
Dinner at the door
The Thanksgiving meal offered this year by Boston Market includes all of the classic elements: roast turkey (11 to 12 pounds), dressing, two pies and rolls. It’s the means of distribution that’s a departure from the norm. Customers can have the 12-person feast delivered to their homes in thaw-and-heat form for $119.99. Variations feature a sliceable turkey breast in place of the complete bird (feeds four to six people, $84.99) and a 12-person meal that includes the turkey breast and a ham ($119.99). Orders have to be placed in advance, and the food is shipped rather than transported by a third-party delivery service.
Thanksgiving from da islands, mon
Caribbean-themed Bahama Breeze is giving the traditional star of Thanksgiving a twist by offering jerk turkey instead of the roasted type. Jerk pork is also an option. Other nods to the concept’s island theme include cranberry-pineapple chutney in place of cranberry sauce, and a spinach-like Caribbean green, callaloo. The dine-in platters are priced at $18.99.