Thanksgiving is an American tradition and the turkey is the all-American bird. At most holiday tables, turkey still reigns supreme. But that doesn't mean everyone will be sitting down to a turkey dinner Thursday.
Modern Thanksgiving, like modern families, is no longer a one-note meal. Every vote gets heard, making a meal as eclectic as the country we have become.
Some will be dining on prime rib, celebrating with salmon or giving thanks over a Virginia ham.
Most of those ingredients are all-American, too.
Even Ben Franklin preferred the turkey over the eagle as the symbol for the fledging nation.
Our local restaurant scene will be plating up Thanksgiving dinner in enough variations to make your head spin, with plenty of choices for all. And for that, we give thanks.
Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking, Plaza 9 Shopping Center, 1333 New Road, Northfield, 609-646-8189. Serving dinner from 2 to 8 p.m. Choice of roasted butternut squash soup, wild mushroom and chestnut soup, autumn insalata. Brined and roasted natural turkey with giblet gravy, mashed potato puree, creamed cipollini onions, Tuscan kale gratin, sausage and fennel stuffing, and more. Other options include wild Scottish salmon, griddled divers scallops or whole-roasted fish for an additional $8 charge. House-made desserts include apple-grappa cake, pumpkin crostata, chocolat-espresso torta, limoncello pound cake, pumpkin, pomegranate or ricotta gelato. $38 per person, children 10 and under, $15.
Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant, 1301 Beach Ave., Cape May, 609-884-9090. Special three-course prix fixe dinner served 2 to 7 p.m. Appetizer choices include roasted butternut squash bisque with smoked trout brioche raft, and autumn-market petite green salad with baby beets, shaved fennel, spiced walnuts, English Stilton cheese and walnut aioli. Entrees include roasted Lancaster County free range turkey; sausage and cherry brioche stuffing with cranberry, baby carrots, haricot verts and sage turkey gravy; pan-seared Chatham cod, potato gnocchi and chanterelles with braised Swiss chard and autumn herb aioli. Choice of desserts. $60 adults, $25 children plus tax and gratuity.
Rio Station, Grande Center Shopping Mall, Rio Grande, 609-889-2000. Early birds 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thanksgiving platters include half-off one holiday dessert: eat-in only, $14.99 for adults, $9.99 for children. 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving platters: choice of ham, turkey or ham and turkey with refills on adult platters and half-off one holiday dessert: eat-in only, $16.99 for adults, $10.99 for children.
The Flanders Hotel Banquet and Conference Center, 11th & Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-399-1000. Seating on the half-hour from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving buffet featuring shrimp cocktail, assorted salads, oyster chowder and butternut squash soup. Carving station includes turkey, roast beef and pork loin. Entrees include seared breast of chicken, oven-roasted sea bass, green beans, grilled shitake and shallots, chardonnay-glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, porcini mushroom agnolotti. Dessert station: deep dish apple pie, traditional pumpkin pie, French pastries, pumpkin cheesecake, cookies and brownies. Adults $31.95, children under 12, $14.95 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are recommended.
Atlantic City Country Club, One Leo Fraser Drive, Northfield, 609-236-4465. Seatings at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thanksgiving buffet includes assorted salads and appetizers, carved Maple Grove roast turkey, Angus prime rib, Virginia ham and porchetta, plus all the traditional fixings. Dessert extravaganza. Adults $39.95; children 5 to 12 years old, $16.95; children under four, free.
Cousin Mario's, 5401 Harding Highway (Rt. 40), Mays Landing, 609-837-2698. Select menu will be served 1 to 8 p.m. Turkey with all the trimmings: stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes and choice of pumpkin or apple pies and pumpkin cheesecake. Alternate choices include a N.Y. strip steak, crab cakes or chicken Francaise, priced individually.
Shore Diner, 6710 Tilton Road, Egg Harbor Township, 609-641-3669. Thanksgiving day feast served noon until closing and available to-go. Full-course dinner includes roast young turkey with chestnut stuffing and gravy, soup and garden salad, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, string beans, fresh bread basket, homemade pumpkin pie, unlimited coffee, tea or iced tea. Regular menu also available. $14.95 for adults; children under 12, $9.95.
Philippe Chin French-Asian Bistro, 800 Bay Ave., Somers Point, 609-926-3500. Dinner served family style starting at 1 p.m. First courses include roasted butternut squash and apple bisque, Chin's Caesar salad with wonton croutons and garlic-ginger dressing. Entree choices include traditional roast turkey with orange-cranberry sauce, pecan-crusted salmon fillet with maple beurre blanc, roasted duck breast with caramelized shallots and raspberry sauce. Desserts include apple cobbler, pumpkin pie and cheesecake. $29.50 per person, kids under 10 years old, $15.
Seaglass, Golden Inn, 78th Street and Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-967-2111. Traditional Thanksgiving dinner served 1 to 7 p.m. Assortment of autumn lettuces, roasted corn and crab chowder, warm cornbread, and entree choice of classic turkey with traditional stuffing, stuffed mahi-mahi, stuffed beef tenderloin. Full selection of holiday desserts. Adults $24.95, children under 12 years $9.95. Reservations recommended.
Renault Winery, 72 N. Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City, 609-965-2111. Gourmet Restaurant will seat from 1 to 6 p.m. with traditional six-course gourmet dinner with two wine tastings, $42 to $46, or turkey dinner, $39 for adults, $19 for children. Joseph's Restaurant will serve 1 to 6 p.m. Traditional turkey dinner, $25 and regular menu available a la carte. Full service bar and live entertainment.
Blue Pig Tavern, Congress Hall, Cape May, 609-884-8422. Dinner served 1 to 7 p.m. Three-course Thanksgiving dinner menu includes a choice of soup or salad. Entree choices include BPT traditional Thanksgiving dinner with slow-roasted turkey breast and leg with mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and gravy. Optional choices include braised short ribs, sauteed flounder, crab cakes or roasted root vegetable risotto. Desserts include pumpkin spiced cheesecake with gingersnap crust, chocolate pecan pie or caramel apple bread pudding with cranberry compote. $39 per person.
Latz's by the Bay, 801 Bay Ave., Somers Point, 609-788-8838. Dinner will run 2 to 8 p.m. Turkey with traditional stuffing, gravy, whipped mashed potatoes and green beans. Individual pumpkin torte topped with rum-laced whipped cream. Regular menu also available. $24.95 for adults, $12.95 children 12 and under.