Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Instead of enduring all the fuss involved in fixing a holiday feast, consider eating out

Chef’s Palette in Cary will serve a traditional holiday meal with honey-glazed ham, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, orange-cranberry relish and sausage stuffing.

Let’s get this not-so-surprising fact out of the way right up front: Not everyone likes preparing and serving Thanksgiving dinner.

But surely almost everyone enjoys eating it.

“I highly recommend letting professionals cook this meal for you, and there are some real advantages to going out,” said Arthur Gordon, owner of Raleigh’s Irregardless Café, which will serve more than 700 people in the 125-seat restaurant this Thanksgiving Day. “Not everyone likes to eat the same thing. Plus, you can just sit down and relax, and nobody is stuck in the kitchen having to clean up afterward.”

Apparently folks in the Triangle have received the memo. By mid-September, Raleigh’s Angus Barn was fully booked for Thanksgiving with a jam-packed waitlist to boot.

Other area restaurants are seeing increasing interest from customers wanting to dine out for the holiday. At Chef’s Palette in Cary, proprietor Kathie Clark has noticed a continuing upward trend in receiving reservations.

“People are realizing that it’s more important to be with family and enjoy themselves rather than worrying about all the other hassle involved,” Clark said.

Here’s the good news: We found plenty of places that are open and ready to serve you on Thanksgiving Day. Choose quickly, though. Seats fill up faster than your uncle Bob after going back for seconds.

Chef’s Palette
3460 Ten Ten Road, Suite 118, Cary
(919) 267-6011
chefspalette.net

For something different on Thanksgiving, don’t miss the slow-roasted New York strip roast.

Setting: Open since 2010, what once leaned heavily toward Cajun-inspired cuisine has evolved into a Southern American bistro. The regular menu ranges from specialties like pan-seared duck breast and filet mignon to casual favorites such as fish ’n’ chips and pulled pork nachos.

“What I love about chef Ryan Summers is his passion for creating exceptional dishes from scratch,” Clark said.

The warm, inviting dining room features blown-glass light fixtures and exquisite, gallery-worthy local artwork.

“A feature wall is dedicated to a different artist each month,” she said. “Everything is for sale, and I don’t take a commission.”

Distinctive Thanksgiving offerings: Don’t miss the melt-in-your-mouth slow-roasted New York strip. “It’s seasoned with rosemary, sage, kosher salt, onion, white and black pepper and garlic salt,” said Summers. “I cook it low and slow in the Alto-Shaam (oven) for four to five hours.”

Traditional items include honey-glazed ham, oven-roasted turkey breast, sage and sausage stuffing, Boursin mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and orange cranberry relish.

Desserts include creme brulee, a flourless chocolate torte, chocolate and pumpkin mousse, petit fours and turtle cheesecake.

Dessert anyone? You’re more than covered with creme brulee, flourless chocolate torte, chocolate and pumpkin mousse, petit fours, turtle cheesecake — and pumpkin and pecan pies, of course.

Price and particulars: $37 for adults; $18 for children aged 6-12; kids aged 0-5 eat free.

Served from noon to 5:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended.

Deans Kitchen + Bar
1080 Darrington Drive, Cary
(919) 459-5875
deanskitchenandbar.com

For the holidays, Dean’s Kitchen + Bar will add a few traditional extras to its weekend brunch menu.

Setting: This modern American restaurant procures seafood, meats, vegetables, dairy and fruit from North Carolina farmers and suppliers. The commitment to local and regional sourcing provides Dean’s the flexibility to offer a menu that changes with the seasons.

Standout dishes include grilled fish tacos, buttermilk chicken and waffles, and lobster and blue crab mac’n’cheese. Think elevated comfort food. Build your own entree by choosing from among more than a dozen proteins plus two sides.

“Our weekend brunch is extremely popular and draws big crowds,” said manager Ben Ryan.

Distinctive Thanksgiving offerings: From the well-stocked buffet, get your fill of made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes, fried chicken, salmon and even raw oysters on the half shell.

John Furnari of Cary helps himself to items from the brunch buffet at Dean’s. Distinctive dishes include fried chicken and waffles, lobster and crab mac ’n’ cheese, and oysters on the half shell.

“We have some guests who come in just for the oysters,” said Ryan.

Craving conventional Thanksgiving fare? You’ll find turkey, ham, stuffing and other requisite sides plus pies, cake and fresh fruit. And perhaps you can start a new tradition at the make-your-own s’mores station.

Price and particulars: The buffet is $45 for adults; $15 for children aged 3-10. Served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call for reservations.

Irregardless Café
901 West Morgan St., Raleigh
(919) 833-8898
irregardless.com

Setting: Trailblazer Arthur Gordon started Irregardless as Raleigh’s first vegetarian restaurant in 1975. The venerable farm-to-table restaurant has expanded its menu over the years and offers live music every night.

Stuffed acorn squash with quinoa and mango salsa is served alongside black beans, beets, white beans and pineapple.

“We like to think of ourselves as having a plant-based menu,” Gordon said. “If you want protein, you can add whatever one you like – beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, shrimp, scallops or duck. But we still feature the vegetables.”

Distinctive Thanksgiving offerings: Try the stuffed acorn squash (or pumpkin, if it is offered) suffused with mango salsa and quinoa.

“We’ll offer prime rib, fresh fish and several other vegetarian options, but most people will order our standard turkey dinner,” said Gordon. “Our secret to serving moist, tender turkey is to brine it and to wait for an hour or so after it comes out of the oven to carve it.”

If you enjoy leftovers, consider the convenient takeaway option.

“We’ll sell you half a pound of turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and bread, and you can enjoy it the next day,” said Gordon.

Price and particulars: Order from the menu a la carte or pay $30 a person for the turkey dinner. Service is from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Live entertainment (soft background music) will be presented. Call early for reservations. Takeout Thanksgiving meals for six to eight people are available. Irregardless is also open on Christmas Day.

Verandah
301 South Academy St., Cary
(919) 670-5000
verandahcary.com

Quinoa salad with arugula, dried apricots, tomato, cucumber and a charred ginger dressing at Verandah.

Setting: Situated inside the Mayton Inn, downtown Cary’s stylish boutique hotel, Verandah offers guests finely executed contemporary Southern fare. Ingredients are locally sourced, and you can taste the freshness whether you order the Joyce Farms chicken breast or the signature shrimp and grits.

It’s all served in a relaxed yet posh environment.

“We encourage people to come as they are, and enjoy a comfortable experience,” said Deanna Crossman, who owns the business with her husband Colin.

Executive chef Steve Zanini honed his culinary skills at Jimmy V’s Steakhouse, Midtown Grille and his own family’s restaurant. At Verandah, he stays true to his roots while executing innovative twists to classic dishes.

Distinctive Thanksgiving offerings: An imaginative duck confit hash features fingerling potatoes, roasted tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Vegan-friendly selections abound, including squash and black-eyed-pea succotash, braised collard greens and arugula-laced quinoa salad with dried apricot, tomato, cucumber and a charred ginger dressing.

Be sure to indulge in the rewarding sweet potato hash with apples, pecans and a graham cracker crust.

A duck-confit hash features fingerling potatoes, roasted tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

“We use Granny Smith apples, brown sugar and a pumpkin spice that we make in house,” Zanini said.

Traditional meats like turkey breast with giblet gravy and prime rib with mustard horseradish, horseradish cream and au jus will be front and center. They match nicely with whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and green bean casserole.

Verandah chef Steve Zanini gives a traditional dish a spin with his sweet potato hash, which includes apples, pecans and a graham cracker crust.

Price and particulars: The buffet is $55 for adults; $10 for kids under 12. Served 11 a.m-3 p.m. Thanksgiving specials are available for dinner. Reservations are strongly recommended. Verandah’s spacious outdoor terrace will be accessible if weather permits.

“We also serve a buffet at Christmas, just with different items,” Deanna Crossman said.

Additional Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving

D & S Cafeteria, Raleigh
dscafeteria.com
Traditional items including turkey, dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole

Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary
theumstead.com/dining
Buffet featuring carved turkey, truffle macaroni and cheese, and cornbread stuffing

Kababish Café, Cary
kababishcafe.com
Indian/Pakistani buffet with tandoori masala turkey, roasted butternut squash and more

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Cary
lucky32.com
Serving regular menu plus traditional turkey dinner

Rye Bar and Southern Kitchen
ryeraleigh.com
A family-style meal from 11:30 a.m. to  3 p.m., and dinner specials featuring ham or turkey and traditional Southern sides

Rey’s Restaurant, Raleigh
reysrestaurant.com
Serving a four-course meal including soup, salad, ham or turkey (or both) with two sides and dessert.

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