Do you want to celebrate Thanksgiving while you are away from home? Here's where to find that turkey dinner in the UK.
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. And here is where to find it:
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 and 2017. As of mid October, we still don't know what will be happening in 2018 but something almost always is.
The festivities are organized by volunteers so details of what will be happening around the Mayflower Steps are always announced relatively late. It's best to keep an eye on the official website to see what's planned. Or you can email Plymouth Barbican Waterfront.
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 11 a.m. and noon is held. The US Ambassador speaks at the service, usually delivering a message from the President as well. 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 2018
- The Big Easy: The New Orleans themed barbecue and lobster group, with restaurants in Covent Garden, Canary Wharf and the King's Road Chelsea, is serving a three-course menu all day for £29.50. By mid October, only the Canary Wharf restaurant had published their menu - smoked turkey or spicy black bean burger, banana cream or pumpkin pie. But similar menus were about to be published for the Covent Garden and King's Road locations as well.
- 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 include snow crab cakes, grilled corn relish and confit roasted turkey with all the trimmings. Side dishes are served family style and the 2018 price of £60 per person (no change since last year) is relatively reasonable, though coffee and drinks will be extra. At Ramsay's Savoy Grill they've dispensed with last year's strategy of steering customers to a generic, festive set menu and in 2018 will be doing a real, all out Thanksgiving feast. It's pretty traditional - except for the peanut butter parfait with cranberry ripple dessert - and costs £68 per person.
- Boondocks, the casual, East London eatery on the edge of the City proclaims it is the home of American home cooking. So naturally they are planning a Thanksgiving feast .There's one seating and an awesome selection of traditional treats. A princely £45 will buy you as much turkey and a huge assortment of traditional trimmings as you can pack away.
- PJ's Bar and Grill in South Kensington. This is a 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 but in October it looked like the usual traditional faves would be on the menu along with sea bass, chicken Kiev and vegetarian courses. They do tend to lump Thanksgiving in with the general festive season -- Christmas pudding for Thanksgiving dessert? Um, Okay. But they've been hosting Thanksgiving dinners for years and at £29.95 for three courses or £27.95 for two in 2018, they've kept the prices consistently reasonable.
- The Red Lion, (2 Castelnau, Barnes, London SW13 9RU, Telephone: +44 (0)20 8748 2984) has a healthy American contingent of supporters and they've been laying on a traditional American style turkey feast with all the trimmings for more 14 years (as of 2018). There are two sittings - at 5:30 and 8 p.m. and the later sitting is for adults only. And for remarkably reasonable prices of less than £30, they serve up a generous spread that even includes pumpkin pie. We've sampled their Christmas feast (see 10 Great Pubs for Christmas Lunch) and we can report the quality is terrific and they don't skimp.
- The Riding House Cafe on Great Titchfield Street, London, brings the real spirit of the holiday to the Thanksgiving feast by serving it as a shared meal at a communal table. Arrive with friends or on your own, it's all done as a sharing feast. In 2018, £40 per person includes a really home-style meal with turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, and more trimmings.Every year there is a specially created cocktail. In 2018 it's a Calvados and Bourbon based Cinnamon Old Fashioned. Also, in 2018, they've spread the Thanksgiving cheer to two sister restaurants - The Rail House Cafe, near Victoria and Village East on Bermondsey Street. Same price and pretty much the same menu at all three.
- JW Steakhouse: In 2017, this restaurant at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane is serving one of the more authentic Thanksgiving dinners, complete with side dishes served family-style. 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 areas of America. If there's a vegetarian in your group, he or she will be 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, is quite reasonably priced in 2018 at £39 for lunch and £59 for dinner - with entertainment - drinks and tips. If you'd like them to create wine pairings to go with each course, that will set you back another £20 per person.
- 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 £65 for three courses in 2018. 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 maple-roasted parsnip cream. Baked pecan pie cheesecake anyone? How about pumpkin pie with honey bourbon creme chantilly or apple and almond cobbler? True vegetarians get a fair deal here too, with meat-free and fish-free starters and mains. Foodies rave about the place.
- Bodeans BBQ Smokehouse - Casual, football on TV, with seven 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 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 smoked though 2018 presentation seems to include thicker slices of turkey and a whole turkey drumstick on the family-style platter. Sadly, especially given the reasonable 2018 price of £28.95 for three courses, vegetarians won't find much to give thanks for. Check their website or ring the closest Bodeans (they have several branches around London with phone numbers on their website) to book.