How you doin’? Good? Good. Are you getting ready for the big Holiday season? Yeah, me too! My family is slightly hyper Holiday-oriented around this time of year. We start with Halloween and Day of the Dead, then it’s straight into Thanksgiving, Solstice, X-mas, Festivus, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, and of course it all culminates on New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day! Good lord. By the time it’s all over, we’re pretty Holiday’d the fuck out, but that’s a long ways off, so — having recently dismantled my Day of the Dead alter — I’m ready to get into the next holiday spirit with some festive Thanksgiving activities!
Believe it or not, even though my family is super-traditional when it comes to T-day food (turkey, potatoes, squash, green beans, stuffing, cranberries, etc etc etc… etc) we have been known to hit the road en masse and go out to eat on Thanksgiving Day! It was something we started doing back in the 90’s, when my Grandmother passed away and we made a somewhat strange family decision to go to a restaurant called Bobby Hackett’s in Hanover, Mass for T-day that year. It was totally out of character for us, and despite my initial twenty-something grump about it, we had a blast! My family loves to laugh… a lot… so we laughed and laughed and ate and ate, as we sat inside of the cheesy-as-fuck dining hall, making fun of everything from the decor, to the food, to ourselves just for being there, and the best part was, when we were finished stuffing our faces, someone else cleared the table and washed the dishes. Yay!
We went to Bobby Hackett’s for years, and loved it. When we started cooking at home again, that seemed a little weird! It’s funny how quickly a new tradition can be established. We still eat at a restaurant on T-Day sometimes, last year in fact, 4 of us went to King James Pub for an alterna-feast that was great!
King James is closed on Thanksgiving Day this year, and I won’t even be here in Asheville, but for you guys, I have compiled a list of places that will be open, or semi-open on Thanksgiving Day! Here they are:
1. BUFFALO NICKEL
Chef Ryan Kline of Buffalo Nickel was just ranked as one of the the Top 5 “up-and-coming” chefs in Asheville (by me!) and his treatment of traditional ingredients, combined with his own creativity, food philosophy, and kitchen skills makes his grub some of the most delicious and in my opinion, “comforting” in town. With a traditional T-Day dinner in mind, I’m sure that he’s going to rock it the fuck out. When I wrote to co-owner Lynn Foster to see what they’re planning for Thanksgiving Day, she sent me the whole menu!
THANKSGIVING DAY MENU
3 COURSES FOR $30
• FARM FRESH VENTURES SALAD
Roasted Pumpkin, Shaved Fennel, Cherry, Ricotta Salata, Candied Pecans, Banyuls Vinaigrette
• HEIRLOOM SQUASH SOUP
Crème Fraiche, Curry Oil, Chive, BBQ Duck Confit
• FRIED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Root Vegetable Puree, Benton’s Bacon, Cranberry, Pumpkin Seeds, Maple-Chipolte Vinaigrette, Soft Egg
• TRADITIONAL TURKEY DINNER
Whipped Potatoes, Cornbread Dressing, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce, Giblet Gravy
• COLA BRAISED SHORT RIBS
Sweet Potato Puree, Glazed Carrots, Cippolini, Brussels Gremolata, Peanuts, Jus
• PUMPKIN RAVIOLI
Oyster Mushrooms, Brussels Petals, Cranberry, Root Vegetables, Sage, Brown Butter, Lemon, Chevre
• PAN ROASTED SALMON
Creamed Potatoes & Savoy Cabbage, Benton’s Bacon, Dill, Herb Salad
• PECAN PRALINE CHEESECAKE
Sorghum Brittle, Popped Sorghum, Sorghum Caramel
• PUMPKIN PIE
Fall Spice Chantilly
• APPLE TURNOVER
Caramel, Struesel, Bourbon Ice Cream
Thanks, Lynn! Looks great!
2. BURIAL BEER – I popped in and talked to the folks at Burial, and they said they will be hosting a good old fashioned Pot Luck Dinner on Thanksgiving day, from 4pm – 8pm. So bring a dish, and grab some suds in one of the coolest, most local-friendly brew pubs in town!
3. BUXTON HALL BBQ – I asked Chef Elliot Moss last week if Buxton would be open on Thanksgiving Day, and he told me that the dining room will NOT be open, but that he will be there, personally handing out boxed dinners available to order ahead of time, or purchase at the door. Later on I received a note from Kathleen, who does PR for Buxton, MG Road, and Chai Pani, and she said “…we’re planning on having pre-order Thanksgiving packages at $99 for 4 people, featuring a barbecued turkey. (If you have more people in your party, you are welcome to order multiple packs!) There will also be an option to add a Buxton pie. Our website to order Thanksgiving packs is officially up at: buxtonthanksgiving.splashthat.com and should provide all the info needed.”
4. HIGH FIVE COFFEE – When I asked Jay Weatherly, owner of High Five, if his shops would be open on T-Day, he gave me a definite maybe! True to his “nice guy” nature, Jay leaves it up to employees to decide whether or not they feel like working on Thanksgiving Day. I think that’s very cool, and last year, they did open, and I went, and it was packed, and it was fun to be there! Jay says check their FaceBook page the week of Thanksgiving to see if they’ve posted their “Turk-Alert,” or just call ahead before you make a special trip: (828) 398-0209
5. OLD EUROPE – Last year on Thanksgiving Day, Old Europe saved my life. I think I ran out of coffee at home or something drastic like that, and I remember that it was a really beautiful day too, with a light snowfall, so I walked downtown, fingers crossed. Every single place I passed was closed. Vortex, FBFC, Posana, Bomba… all of them. Except Old Europe! YAY! I found out from the staff that they are always open on Thanksgiving, and this year Pastry Chef Katie-Lynn McDonald (another one of my Top 5 Up-and-coming chefs) says that she’s hoping to bust out some special seasonally inspired baked goods. Go see the crew at Old Europe this year! They rule.
6. RED STAG GRILL – When I wrote to my friends at the Red Stag and asked them if they would be open on Thanksgiving Day, I pretty much knew the answer already. I mean, how could a hotel restaurant be closed? Answer: They can’t. Here’s our FaceBook message conversation:
STU HELM – Hi Guys! A quick Q: Will you be open on Thanksgiving day?
RED STAG GRILL – Hi Stu, we will definitely be open on Thanksgiving! We will be serving both a special lunch and dinner menu in the Red Stag, as well as a special buffet in the ballroom upstairs. I’ve included links to both of our menus for the day too. Let us know if you have any other questions.
STU HELM – Thank you for the info! I’m sure Chef Ostrander is gonna crush it!
Here are the links they provided to their menus:
7. SOVEREIGN REMEDIES – When I asked Sov Rems owner Charlie Hodge about their T-Day plans, I already knew they’d be open too, because they are open 365 days of the year. So, what do they have planned? “Something!” said Charlie, “I’m not sure what. Possibly turkey. Small bites, inspired by amaro. A digestif inspired menu.” Okay! As vague as that might sound, if I was going to be in town on T-day, Sov Rems would be first on my list of venues to visit, because, when their kitchen is being “inspired” by anything, I wanna be there.
8. STORM RHUM BAR -They are observing Thanksgiving with special 2pm – 8pm dinner hours at Storm, and a three-part, $40 prix fixe meal. Storm is located near the top o’ the South Slope behind the Orange Peel on Lexington Ave, they have great food and the atmosphere is super-cozy, so I can see having a really nice Thanksgiving Day there. Plus, they bust out some of my fave desserts in Asheville, so I can also imagine that they’re gonna rock that the fuck out on the big day. Note that the bar is open until midnight, so even if you feast at home on Thanksgiving, you’ll have somewhere to get your glug on later in the evening.
9. STRADA – My friend Chef Anthony Ceratto has it all goin’ on, and Strada remains open on Thanksgiving every year. Anthony has already posted his special menu on FaceBook (above), and is taking reservations. Whoop! Whoop! Git one! The menu looks frickin’ awesome, even though the pumpkin bisque sounds like something that Joe and I might make fun of on AVL Food Fans, I can imagine that Anthony does it right. When I shared his menu on my own FB page last week, your fellow Food Fan, Beverly B. commented, “We have already reserved at Strada, our third year.” So that right there should tell you something. Also: I can not imagine for one second that Chef Anthony is gonna leave anyone feeling hungry in his venue, so if you’re worried that you won’t get fed until you wanna die at a restaurant, I think Strada might be your best bet. Just look at the frickin’ paragraph underneath “All entrees are accompanied with…”
So there you go! Now I’m really hungry.
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.