Thanksgiving in America is all about the three Fs – friends, family and food. If you’re traveling across Europe, or are one of the many US expats living in a European capital city, friends and family are just slightly out of reach but there’s no shortage of festive fare with more and more restaurants around the globe hosting Thanksgiving celebrations.
Best Thanksgiving Dinners in London
Luxury: The Chesterfield, Mayfair, W1
This luxury four-star hotel offers a stunning setting in which to enjoy your Thanksgiving Dinner. Although it’s a high-end hotel staff are approachable, friendly and ready for a good conversation. Their Thanksgiving menu features all the usual trimmings, boasting an up-market flair. Maple sugar-glazed roast turkey with cornbread stuffing and homemade pecan pie with cinnamon ice-cream are just a few of the delicacies on offer. Lunch starts at £17.50, Dinner from £12.50 19-25 November 2007
Budget: The Green Man, 383 Euston Road, Regent’s Park, NW1
Now in its fourth year, The Green Man Annual Thanksgiving Dinner draws Americans from all walks of London life to savor traditional Thanksgiving fare. Organized by London Expat American Meetup Group, every meal comes with homemade pumpkin pie and there’s also a kiddies option. They also show Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and American Football live on TV. Book early through PayPal to guarantee a place as it’s a popular party. Adults £25, Kids £15 18 November 2007
Best Thanksgiving Dinners in Paris
Budget: Le Saint-Martin, 25 Rue Louis Blanc, 75010
If nothing but a full traditional dinner with all your favorite foods will satisfy then check out this bijous eaterie near Canal St-Martin. Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for three nights over the holiday period, their savory carrot soup and pumpkin bread will have you thanking your lucky stars and stripes. Traditional Thanksgiving Menu is €30/person 22, 23, 24 November 2007
Best Thanksgiving Dinners in Rome
Luxury: The Cavalieri Hilton Hotel, Via A Cadlolo, 101, 00136
If your wallet bulges like an overstuffed turkey then the Cavaleri is the place for you. Brimming with opulence, this hotel caters to those who can afford the high life and is hosting Thanksgiving Dinner in one of its six grand restaurants this year. Complete with a wine cellar boasting 53,000 bottles of the world’s best wines you will surely have a lot to be thankful for if you can afford Thanksgiving at the Cavaleri Hilton. Around €60/person
Budget: Hard Rock Café, Via Vittorio Veneto, 62/A, 00187
OK, so it might not serve Thanksgiving Dinner, but very few places do outside America; at least you’ll be sure to meet a few fellow natives and enjoy the day together. Better still, seek out a local Italian restaurant that serves pumpkin gnocchi or variations of traditional Thanksgiving Dinner ingredients and celebrate like you never have before.
An American Thanksgiving in London
The fourth Thursday in November is a day that goes unrecognized in most countries but travel to the USA and Thanksgiving is impossible to ignore. Travel plans are made, food is prepared and work shuts down as people come together to celebrate one of the biggest holidays in the American calendar.
It is reported to have begun back in the early 1600s but didn’t take real hold as a public holiday until the 1800s when the gatherings observed today became commonplace. Friends and family congregate for a bounteous dinner and at some point, a few may remember the story of the pilgrims who survived a particularly harsh winter in 1621, thanks to the guidance of the Wampanoag tribe, who taught the pilgrims where to fish and harvest corn.
These days a Thanksgiving meal, not unlike the traditional UK Christmas dinner, usually includes roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The pilgrims’ feast was slightly more diverse, as they used whatever foods were available. There was no flour for bread and cranberries were not available but boiled pumpkin, clams, squash and other vegetables were employed and remembered centuries after, becoming part of the present-day Thanksgiving dinner.
Where to Buy Thanksgiving Turkey in London
This very American tradition is very gradually infiltrating the streets of London. Even Marks & Spencer now acknowledges it. Not only is M&S selling Thanksgiving cards (and they have more than one design), but they are also offering food to order. Their dinners are a very far cry from the US homecooked spreads but it’s a start. Order online and available for pick up between 24th-26th November are butter-basted turkeys for up to 10 people along with trays of roasting vegetables and potato gratin. Strangely their Thanksgiving Food to Order doesn’t extend to pumpkin or pecan pie but they do have a delectable-looking banoffee pie, which could be a decent substitute.
For the more adventurous or newly expatriated, there is always the option of making it from scratch. Many local butchers can supply whole turkeys for roasting but be sure to ask in advance as the UK turkey season only officially kicks off for Christmas.
Although Thanksgiving is now largely a secular holiday, a special service is held at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 11 am, this year on Thursday 26th November.
London Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving Dinner
There are a healthy number of restaurants in England’s capital city now offering American cuisine and a couple that don’t but who have jumped on the Thanksgiving bandwagon anyway!
Villandry on Great Portland Street is a French restaurant and bar but has taken the Thanksgiving holiday to its heart by offering an all-American dinner. On the menu are clam chowder, ribs, maple syrup Virginia ham, roast turkey with all the trimmings and even pumpkin pie with cinnamon ice cream. Three courses run to about £26 without drinks.
Three miles southwest, The Chicago Rib Shack in Knightsbridge is usually replete with ribs and other applewood smoked meat delights. They also pride themselves on their whisky bar, which includes a wide range of American bourbons and a few Irish and Scottish names as well. Their website doesn’t currently detail what will be on offer this Thanksgiving but meat shouldn’t be in short supply.
With five locations to choose from, Bodean’s has London covered for Thanksgiving and at a very reasonable cost too. Branches in Soho, Westbourne Grove, Tower Hill, Clapham and Fulham are running a family-style feast for £18.95 per person for three courses. Customers can enjoy servings of clam chowder to start followed by smoked turkey and ham with mashed potatoes, veggies and cranberry sauce. If there is any room left, there is a dessert of either apple cobbler or pumpkin pie with ice cream.