So you thought you could pass up Thanksgiving dinner to take advantage of a great travel deal and you're already getting homesick for sweet potatoes and Mom's chestnut stuffing?
Or maybe you're in the UK to study or for work, you can't justify flying home for one dinner, but you really, really wish you could.
Not to worry. Help - in the form of Thanksgiving in the UK - is at hand.
A Pilgrims' UK Thanksgiving in Plymouth, England
In what looks suspiciously like an attack of "Come back, all is forgiven", the people of Plymouth, in Devon, England, hold Thanksgiving celebrations to commemorate their Mayflower and Transatlantic heritage.
The event seemed to fade away for a while but a group of enthusiasts revived it. Even the Plymouth Lord Mayor is involved in the planning and the new Plymouth Waterfront Manager also joined in to keep this event going. In 2014, the Plymouth Barbican - the waterfront area from which the Mayflower sailed - began a countdown to the 400th anniversary of the sailing in 1620 with Illuminate - Lighting the way to 2020, a light show on the waterfront. The event was repeated in 2015.
Just to get an idea about what to expect, the 2012 festivities kicked off in Guildhall Square 10:30 am on the day. Then it was off to the Mayflower Steps, from where the Pilgrims set sail in 1620, for festivities at noon. The picturesque pubs along Plymouth's Barbican are always ready to offer liquid refreshment.
Plans for evening events and dinners change from year to year - some years the Plymouth University Student Union provides turkey, cornbread and soft drinks for guests who are asked to bring a dish and share - or, as we say back home, a pot luck supper to which all are welcome.
Keep track as plans develop on the Plymouth Barbican Waterfront website
Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral
If it's not Thanksgiving for you without a religious service or the company of lots of other Americans, head for St Paul's Cathedral in London where an annual Thanksgiving Day service, between 11am and noon is held annually. The US Ambassador speaks at the service, usually also delivering a message from the President. American songs, like "America the Beautiful" are also part of the experience. It's free. Just show up in time.
Thanksgiving in the UK
A surprising number of restaurants around the UK serve special Thanksgiving menus on that all important 4th Thursday in November. Most - but not all - are in London. If you aren't near any of the restaurants on this list, ask at the better hotels near where you are staying and you've got a good chance of finding a Thanksgiving dinner.
Don't be surprised, however, if that dinner includes a few rather non-traditional items. At one hotel in London they serve butternut squash with ginger foam and turkey with cranberry "jus". Elsewhere, roast pork belly and grilled sea bass are on "Thanksgiving" menus. Actually the less expensive the meal is, the less pretentious and the more like the real thing it is likely to be.
But Hey, Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore. Chin up and enjoy your dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!
Where to find Thanksgiving in 2014
- Some of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants around London are serving a Thanksgiving menu with variations on the turkey, pumpkin, pecans and maple syrup themes. At Maze Grill, in Mayfair, they are serving up a three course menu. Choices including butternut soup with fresh truffles, salt baked & roasted turkey with all the trimmings, side dishes served family style for the table - collard greens, turkey fat roast spuds, grilled corn on the cob, "smashed pumpkin - and apple crumble with cinnamon ice cream. The 2016 price of £50 is relatively reasonable, though coffee and drinks will be extra. At Ramsay's Savoy Grill expect to spend about 60% more plus gratuity, and drinks for a bit more choice and a somewhat more ambitious menu. The 2016 menu has not yet been announced but in 2015 £65 got you 5 courses, among them Cornish crab cakes to start, turkey with cornbread stuffing, yams and red cabbage, spiced pumpkin pie with whisky maple ice cream. The menu changes every year so check their website closer to the big day.
- Pont Street in Belgravia has regularly done the most authentic Thanksgiving groaning board of a feast. Their 2016 menu was not yet firmed up at the time of writing (September 2016) but the manager assures me that it will be roughly similar in detail and price to 2015. In that year, they offered three courses, at £55, including an extravaganza of Thanksgiving sides. Alongside the turkey with chestnut stuffing - carved to order - or the mini sage, cheese and onion pies for vegetarians (sigh), they served cranberry jelly and sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, green beans, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, brussels sprouts with maple syrup and bacon glaze. Phew. Time for a nap in front of the TV after.
- Missouri Angel, London - Celebrated its first birthday on Thanksgiving Day (back in 2008) .The menu is relatively traditional except for the goat cheese fritter floating on the roast parsnip soup.The price of the three course menus was £40 plus tips and drinks in 2015 and it looks like it's holding steady for 2016.
- PJ's Bar and Grill in South Kensington. Clubby, pubby atmosphere, for an upmarket crowd. Ring +44 (0)207 581 0025 for more info and they'll email you the Thanksgiving menu as soon as its settled. They've been hosting Thanksgiving dinners for years and at £29.95 for three traditional courses, it was quite reasonably priced in 2015. Expect it to stay on the reasonable end of the market in 2016.
- Calistoga in Edinburgh. In 2015, for the eight years running, they'd done a California wine tasting and buffet on the same evening as the dinner. Since it's still under the same management in 2016, there's no reason to think they'll change their winning format. The menu is usually decidedly non traditional - in 2015, turkey and chorizo stew with pumpkin and potatoes, pumpkin fritters - but you do get a whiff of home California-style. The wine tasting and 20-course buffet were £25 in 2015. The dinner, served in the restaurant across the street was £35. Prices, of course, may change for 2016 but expect to be in the same ballpark.
- JW Steakhouse In 2015, this restaurant at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane served one of the more authentic Thanksgiving dinners, complete with side dishes served family style. In 2016, they've moved away from the traditional American Thanksgiving dishes. While you'll find roasted pumpkin soup with a corn bread muffin, turkey with apricot stuffing, apple pie, pumpkin pie or cheesecake on the menu, there's not a sweet potato in sight and one of the desserts, bread pudding, is virtually unknown across broad swathes of America. If there's a vegetarian in your group, they are out of luck. This is a carnivore's menu and there's not much in the way of vegetarian courses on their regular menu either. The menu, which nevertheless looks very festive, costs £80 plus drinks and tips. It will be served from noon to 11 pm, Thanksgiving Day and the following Sunday.
- Christophers, Covent Garden - Diners keep voting this restaurant one of London's best for turkey day. Expect to celebrate in chic surroundings for a relatively reasonable price of £58 in 2016. Chow down on ballatine of turkey stuffed with cornbread, hazelnut and cherry stuffing and plenty of other examples of holiday excess. I'd love to try the corn and chorizo chowder or the caramelized Orkney scallops with celeriac and truffle cream. Peanut butter and chocolate pie anyone? How about pumpkin pie with honey bourbon creme chantilly or pear and almond cobbler. True vegetarians get a fair deal here too, with meat and fish free starters and mains. Foodies rave about the place.
- Bodeans BBQ Smokehouse - Casual, football on TV, Several locations in London. Clam chowder or a pulled pork quesadilla are among the starters and and ham is there beside the turkey on the main course platter for two. Their Thanksgiving menu is a value for money three courses - and if chowder is on the menu it's terrific. But keep in mind, Bodeans bills itself as a "smokehouse" and the turkey and ham are usually thinly sliced and smoked! And vegetarians won't find much to give thanks for either. 2016 prices had not yet been decided at the time of publishing, but in 2015 they charged £23.95 and you should expect a similarly competitive price. Check their website or ring the closest Bodeans (they have several branches around London with phone numbers on their website) for the most up-to-date price.