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Having Your Thanksgiving at a Restaurant: Choice or Necessity?

After three years of being unable to have Thanksgiving at our home because a family member's serious mobility restrictions limit our potential sites, I'm beginning not to feel quite so mournful and am grateful that at least she is still with us. But as much as I like to eat out, it's still not something I'd do by choice except under remarkable-but-as-yet-undefined circumstances.

And you? Why are you eating out?

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  1. Because I really dislike turkey and all that goes with it - yes I dislike stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and especially turkey! 30 years ago, because of mobility issues for FIL we went to the Ritz in Boston in a private room. Much to my delight there was duck on the menu along with escargot, etc. I never looked back and have rarely had to endure a "homecooked" turkey dinner since. BTW, Leonard Bernstein was in the next room and played the piano for his guests. He had a concert that night and had his hair in a pincurl above his ears lol!!! His Dachsund sat at the dining table - dog came in to visit much to the delight of FIL.
    Anyway, this year we are going to a really good steakhouse that has traditional turkey for DH and whoever else and luscious steak and sides for moi!!!

    2 Replies
      1. I absolutely LOVE to cook. I'm good at it (I'm no creative chef, but I know what I'm doing in the kitchen). I cook almost every single day. But for just the 4 of us (we don't get together with others who live too far away), I simply don't want to spend days cooking all of the delicious things we can get at the buffet where we eat every year (at a hotel in the city nearby). It's a reasonable price for the selection, $50/ each, and they have everything you could possibly want, including live classical music. No clean up necessary and they have more desserts than I could possibly make in a year (I am NOT a baker at all, so actually I could probably never make these works of art). They serve everything from antipasto platters to smoked fish appetizers, fresh breads, all sorts of cheeses, brunch items, turkey, ham, roast beef, a dozen different sides, made-to-order omelets, pastas, and a nice wine list. And I'm forgetting half of it. When making reservations, it's understood that you have the table for the duration of the buffet, which is 4 hours long. We stay for the entire time and slowly make our way through the courses. Our daughter is 10 and she has loved this tradition for many years and talks about past years as fond memories. It's a true feast and we all enjoy it very much, which is by choice, not necessity. :-) As a matter of fact, because of mobility issues, we can't go this year and we are all disappointed, including the one that is the reason we're not able to go out. My mother can no longer leave the house and, asshe was the biggest fan of this buffet, she is very upset that we can't go. I have absolutely no desire to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gardencook

          Your post sounds a little familiar. There are four of us, no family nearby and no friends who do not have family obligations on Thanksgiving day. We went out several years when the children were younger, then I started cooking at home. This is one of my favorite meals to cook throughout the year but my least favorite to eat and all those leftovers........yuck. I don't dream of leftover turkey sandwiches or leftover turkey anything for that matter and the same goes for the other dishes. Turns out that the rest of my family of four feels the same way. So this year we are going out to a buffet where there will be turkey, ham, and fried chicken and lots of sides to choose from so everyone can eat what they want and no leftovers to eat for the next week. :)

        2. My family is huge (not enough room) and is just as happy with a restaurant as they are with something that I've slaved over. Rather than spending Thanksgiving with a plate of food on my lap, we go to a restaurant. My wife and I make our own Thanksgiving feast on Saturday night.

          1. There are only three of us for Thanksgiving this year. My mom loves turkey, my step-dad likes it well enough, and I'm ambivalent towards it. I suggested having some other meat for Thanksgiving and saving the turkey for Christmas when we'll have a larger crowd. My mom countered with "I was thinking we could just go out." So, we made reservations for the Thanksgiving buffet at a private garden/conservatory near their house. I love cooking, but I'm really kind of relieved to not have the pressure of cooking the big meal. When we cook for Thanksgiving, I'm rarely hungry by the time we get to the table because I've spent the whole day tasting little bits of everything. I'm looking forward to having a wider variety of foods than my mom, aunt and I could cook on our own, and having plenty of non-turkey options.

            1. It's just the hubby, kid, and me; no family close by. While they like turkey, I'd much prefer anything else. I am the cook, so I spend a lot of my time making meals for us, so considering that I would have to get up early enough to make the whole dinner ('cause you HAVE to have the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, baked yams, stuffing, mushroom gravy, vegetables, pie, etc. etc) and spend it frantically cooking. If we had several family members coming over and someone brought the salad and someone else brought the mashed potatoes, etc., then it would work out, but to produce such a meal for only 3 people just isn't worth all the work.
              Additionally, by going out, I get an actual HOLIDAY where I can relax and enjoy the two best things in my life, my husband and child, and not be running around making sure that the gravy is not lumpy and the dishes are all washed and the food's all put away.
              Also, while they have their turkey, I can get something I like, such as prime rib or grilled salmon...and I don't have to do any dishes :)

              1. It sounds like there are a number of people here who are expected to do all the work. If that was my situation I would well consider going out for T'Day. But it's too bad so many people miss out on the joy of cooking a meal together,

                1 Reply
                1. re: escondido123

                  I have been cooking since yesterday and will continue all day today. That is definitely part of it as I said in my first post, but to be completely honest, I think for us, it's more about the variety available and not having to do dishes. For the money for the buffet we go to, I could not even come close to cooking the variety available. Over 100 different food items available and everyone can have exactly what they enjoy eating (for example, they have some lovely smoked fish spreads and meats that I can neither reproduce at home nor find in the stores... dh looks forward to eating this as his personal Thanksgiving tradition). So, I think that is probably more the reason than shouldering the entire burden of cooking everything. I don't mind that so much, but I just don't have time (or space in my fridge) to make a wide variety.

                2. There's only two of us & one is a vegetarian. So we've gone out for Thanksgiving for quite some time. However, I've been increasingly dissatisfied with the options for going out and the food I've gotten. I can do better myself! So this year I decided to cook again - even tho it's just for me.

                  Tho I'm putting it off for a day or two as I woke up ill this morning......just not up to the cooking today. Thankfully it IS just the two of us so it's not a problem.

                  1. It was only the 2 of us this year. I chose to cook because when we have eaten Thanksgiving out, I have been disappointed in almost every case.

                    Last year I fixed my first Thanksgiving dinner in about 10 years, and I remember feeling the pressure. I did it myself, and so it was literally all on me. I did it out of love for someone who needed to have it done, and I don't regret it. But I think ideally Thanksgiving dinner should be shared among several food preparers.

                    So, why did I eat out for almost 10 years? Empty nest basically. Kids too far away, and now partnered off. And for awhile we traveled to see my mother and we ate someplace where she lived. Then we tried different things, including having Thanksgiving with part of our extended family. The latter option is not satisfactory to me. I want my own celebration, however small.

                    I hope your Thanksgiving turned out to be joyful. Mine was very nice.

                    1. Our choice to dine out.

                      Kids are out of state and the in-laws + childern have moved too.

                      I've cooked with my MIL for the past 20 years where I've had free rein to cook the bird any way and I've tried many methods. That was fun, but ...

                      I'm very happy not to cook this year. No pressure. No family drama. No lazy siblings. I'm over the mess and the clean-up. Why should my SO and kiddos do the cleaning?

                      I'm ready for long lines and irritated wait staff. I'm also quite happy to tip very very well too so I don't have to do all that work. I've very happy!