My mother had an epiphany one year: She hated cooking Thanksgiving dinner and wasn't going to do it anymore. Unfortunately for my family, she had this revelation on Thanksgiving Day, and my father had to scramble to find a place to take his four small children, his impossibly snobby mother-in-law, her pixilated husband (he drank a bit on festive occasions) and my stubborn mother. He spent the whole morning on the phone, calling almost every restaurant in Indianapolis before piling us all into the car and driving us to the nearest VFW Hall where the buffet included roast turkey, sweet potatoes and "hot dog fried rice," a dish I have - thankfully! - never seen since.
I haven't cooked a Thanksgiving meal myself since 1982 and have no intention of starting up the tradition ever again. Why should I? There are so many fine local restaurants offering to do all the hard work for me. For people like me - who just want to sit down, unfurl a napkin and be served - we've compiled a list of places that are open and serving some kind of dinner. We're not fussy. It can be a traditional holiday meal with turkey and green bean casserole or Peking duck or even a Town Topic double cheeseburger. As long as a place is open for business, it's fair game.
The Town Topic, 2121 Broadway, will be closed all of Thanksgiving day, but the cooks will fire up the grill at 8 p.m. and be serving breakfast and burgers for the next 24 hours.
Providence New American Kitchen (in the President Hotel, 1329 Baltimore, 816-303-1686) will serve a traditional holiday meal from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Executive chef Eric Carter says the meal - priced at $17 for adults - will feature roast turkey with cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and roasted green beans with mushrooms, and a choice of dessert. Reservations are encouraged.
The oldest hotel in Kansas City is also the home of this town's oldest restaurant, the untouched-by-time Savoy Grill (219 West Ninth Street, 816-842-3890), which will se serving from its regular menu and offering a special Thanksgiving meal from noon to 9 p.m. The Thanksgiving turkey dinner - a bargain at $18.50 - includes roasted turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, salad with bread and cinnamon rolls and a choice of dessert. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Chaz on the Plaza (in the Raphael Hotel, 325 Ward Parkway, 816-802-2152) is still taking reservations for the holiday buffet that it will be serving from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The buffet will include fall greens with toasted pumpkin seeds, chevre, caramelized pear, and a candied pumpkin vinaigrette; fresh cranberry sauce; butternut squash soup; lemon poached shrimp with cocktail sauce; artisan cheeses and fruit; braised turkey breast stuffed with cornbread and sage; blue crab-stuffed mahi mahi in red curry cream; carved prime rib; leg of lamb; roasted Brussels sprouts; pumpkin and gorgonzola gratin potatoes; chestnut and orange barley risotto; Vermouth grilled asparagus; French beans, sauce supreme; and assorted seasonal desserts. The buffet is priced at $50 for adults, $15 for children under 10 years of age.
Julian (6227 Brookside Plaza, 816-214-8454) will be serving a three-course meal on Thanksgiving from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The first course will be butternut squash bisque with crab salad; the second will be a traditional roasted turkey breast with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry sauce; and the dessert course will be pumpkin cheesecake. The price of the meal is $35 for adults. Reservations are encouraged.
Affare Restaurant (1911 Main, 816-298-6182) will be serving a holiday meal from 3 to 9 p.m. Reservations are still available. The elaborate four-course meal - priced at $45 for adults, $20 for children - features a first-course choice of lamb's lettuce, truffled potato confit, and seared lamb sausage on mustard aioli or "Oktoberfest" (black forest ham, roasted squash, beans, beets, sliced walnuts, and poached pears) or artisan greens in radicchio basket, with diced apples, orange filets, spiced pecans, blue cheese crumbs, in Meyer lemon-honey dressing. The second-course choices will be roasted quail in a port wine reduction, with flash sauteed arugula and celery-root puree or baked walleye under a salmon mousse or wild forest mushroom soup. The third-course choices are Barham Family Farm tom turkey, with apple celery stuffing, Brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted butternut squash and buttermilk mashed potatoes with velvet cream sauce or whole roasted Angus beef tenderloin, with tarragon sauce, turnip, bean and squash medley, Macaire potato or roasted pork loin with dried plum stuffing,
braised red cabbage and potato dumpling. Affare's fourth-course choices are German mousse cake with mango sauce, a frozen walnut parfait with quince compote, an assorted cheese plate, or apple marzipan tart with sauce anglaise.
The Reserve Restaurant (in the Ambassador Hotel, 1111 Grand, 816-298-7700) will offer a choice of traditional turkey dinner, a seafood entree or a steak dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The meal is priced at $45 for adults.
Shields Manor Bistro in the Northland (121 Main, Platte City, 816-858-5557) is serving Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Reservations are required. The meal is priced at $28 per person and includes turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry-pecan relish, country green beans, buttered corn and home-baked bread. Desserts are available for an additional charge.
The New Peking Restaurant (540 Westport Road, 816-531-6969) will be serving all of the popular Chinese dishes on its menu (including hot braised shrimp, lobster tail Sichuan-style, twice-cooked pork) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Taking the whole extended family out for dinner and, maybe, not so flush? The Golden Corral (8800 Northwest Skyview, 816-505-0300) will serve its regular dinner buffet, featuring special holiday dishes, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The buffet price for adults is $12.99. The buffet for senior citizens is $11.99 and includes a beverage.
Niecie's Restaurant (6441 Troost, 816-444-6006) will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The only dinner entree served that day will be the sliced turkey dinner, but all the breakfast dishes will be available.
Feel like hitting the slots before or after the Thanksgiving meal? All of the casino buffets will be serving on the holiday. The Horizon's Buffet (Ameristar Casino, 3200 North Ameristar Drive, 816-414-7000) will be serving from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The adult meal is priced at $24.99. The Calypso Buffet (Isle of Capri Casino, 1800 East Front Street 816-855-7777) is serving Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional favorites - and crab legs! - from 4 to 9 p.m.