Thanksgiving – often known in the States as Turkey Day – on 25 November is a holiday that Americans celebrate wherever they may be. It has the best parts of Christmas, the friends, family and food, without the gift-giving madness. The whole country takes two days off for it and the day before Thanksgiving (today, as we’re writing) is the single busiest day in the air travel year as wayward children and distant friends wing their way home for the feast.
We at toptable are certainly thankful for another good reason to share a meal with people we enjoy. If you’d like to join in the feast and have a real Thanksgiving turkey meal, here’s our guide to restaurants we know are doing up Turkey Day the traditional way: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or apple or pecan pie.
Christopher’s in Covent Garden is American every day of the year, and is planning a proper Thanksgiving Day menu. They also have a cool and stylish Martini Bar, a visit to which is one T-day tradition we’d like to start right now. Three courses with many choices are £38.
At the relaxed end of the dining spectrum, The Big Easy in the Kings Road is diverting a bit from its usual irresistible lobster, fish, fajitas, burgers and bbq carte to offer a proper Thanksgiving menu and there’s live music from 8.30. Two courses from £19.95.
Babylon at the Roof Gardens in Kensington isn’t quite going all the way with the Thanksgiving menu, but there will be some themed additions to its normal brillilant food. And the resident American jazz band will take you over the pond, at least in your heart.
If you’ve never visited it, you should know that 1 Lombard Street in the City of London is a beautiful restaurant that is gallantly setting aside its fine French menu for a day to make room for their ‘unashamedly decadent Thanksgiving menu’. Intriguing. It has all the classic bits in a lovely setting.
Le Café Anglais is Rowley Leigh’s Anglo-French restaurant in Bayswater with a fine line in shellfish and amazing grills. Tomorrow the Thanksgiving menu includes Oysters Rockefeller among its starters, full turkey main or halibut with clams and chicory greens, and pumpkin pie. It’s £39.50 for three courses and will be memorable.
The Palm Restaurant in Belgravia arrived in London in 2009, the first European branch of an American institution first begun in 1926, and immediately made a splash as one of the capital’s best American restaurants. Normally the focus is on steak and lobster with a strong Italian aspect to the menu, but on Thanksgiving only the full turkey event will do. Superb service and a heart warming selection of American wines complete the picture. £30 per adult, £12 per child.
JW Steakhouse is the totally decadent American restaurant of the five-star Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair. This is JW’s first Thanksgiving so it’s celebrating with a traditional menu at £56 per person – with a steak option if you fancy it instead of turkey – and an invitation to visit the Bourbon Bar before or after your feast.
The delightful Missouri Angel in Aldgate is celebrating its third anniversary on Thanksgiving with a three-course traditional menu (£45) at lunch and dinner that features not only turkey but choices of steak or sea bass. The surroundings feel American, too.
PJ’s Bar and Grill in Covent Garden is giving it their all with New England clam chowder, roast turkey with all the bits (or vegetarian ravioli) and pumpkin pie. Three courses are just £19.95 at lunch or dinner and we know the surroundings and service are excellent.
The menu at PJ’s Bar and Grill in South Kensington is more extensive, with four choices for each course for £31.95. That means you can take an American friend who can do the trad turkey thing while you bliss out on pan-seared scallops with pancetta, an 8oz New York strip steak with chunky fries and blueberry cheesecake with white chocolate sauce. Two happy diners.
The Grill at The Dorchester restaurant in Mayfair is fine dining in a fabulous tartan space and they’re offering a truly lovely Thanksgiving menu at £55 that includes spiced Cromer crab cake, New England clam chowder, the whole turkey thing and pecan and pumpkin pie with caramel ice cream, coffee and petit fours. Oh, and no washing up, either.
Outside of London, the choices are more limited, but if you really crave Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, you could always grab a meal at one of our restaurants with Christmas menus, because though the name is different, roast turkey is roast turkey, no matter how you slice it.