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.
Josef's Country Inn (2410 Pleasantville Road, Fallston, 410-877-7800): The restaurant is offering a fixed-price three-course Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The cost is $26.95, $15.95 for children. Open noon-7 p.m.
Kali's Court (1606 Thames St., 410-276-4700, kaliscourt.com): The Fells Point restaurant is offering a fixed-price menu including both traditional Thanksgiving favorites and the restaurant's customary seafood specialties. The cost is $49.95.
Kent Manor Inn (500 Kent Manor Drive, Stevensville, 410-643-7716, kentmanor.com): The historic Kent Island restaurant is serving a fixed-price Thanksgiving dinner. The cost is $39, $19 for children. Open 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Kings Contrivance (10150 Shaker Drive, Columbia , 410-995-0500, greatfoodmd.com): The popular Howard County restaurant is offering a fixed-price three-course Thanksgiving menu. A children's menu will also be available. The cost is $42. Open noon-7 p.m.
Milton Inn (14833 York Road, Sparks, 410-771-4366, miltoninn.com): Brian Boston's Baltimore County destination restaurant is offering a fixed-price three-course Thanksgiving dinner. The cost is $42, $21 for children. Open noon-7:30 p.m.
Oregon Grille (1201 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, 410-771-0505, oregongrille.com): The perennial Baltimore County favorite is serving a fixed-priced three-course Thanksgiving dinner menu as well as its regular dinner menu. The cost for the special menu is $42, $23.50 for children. Open 1 p.m.-8 p.m.
The Prime Rib (1101 N. Calvert St., 410-539-1804, theprimerib.com/bal): The classic Mount Vernon steakhouse is offering both a fixed-price three-course menu of traditional Thanksgiving favorite as well as its regular dinner menu. Open for dinner beginning at 1 p.m.
The Rockfish (400 Sixth St., Annapolis, 410-267-1800, rockfishmd.com): The restaurant will serve a turkey and ham dinner with traditional accompaniments. Pricing and menu details were being finalized at press time) Open 1 p.m.- 7 p.m.
Rusty Scupper (402 Key Highway, 410-727-3678, http://www.selectrestaurants.com/rusty): The Inner Harbor seafood restaurant is offering a buffet dinner of traditional Thanksgiving favorites. There is a ninety-minute time limit at each table, and reservations are required. The cost is $38.95 adults, $16.95 for children. Open noon- 6 p.m.
Tersiguel's (8293 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-465-4004, tersiguels.com): The French restaurant is offering a fixed price Thanksgiving menu along with limited selections from the regular menu. The cost is $30.95; $15.95 for children. Open 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Tidewater Inn (101 E. Dover St., Easton, 410-822-1300, tiderwaterinn.com): The recently renovated Eastern Shore Inn is offering a buffet featuring traditional Thanksgiving fare and Eastern shore specialties. The cost is $34.95, $19.95 for children. Open noon-5 p.m.