Every year my family and I eat Thanksgiving dinner at Paparazzi, an Italian restaurant in Boston. And every year I long for the antique drop leaf table that stretched across our old farmhouse dining room where we had Thanksgiving dinner during my first 30 years — in a cozy room with old lady wallpaper, not far from the campfire scent and warmth of our wood-burning stove.
In case you’re feeling the same way about dining out this Thanksgiving, here are a few local dining spots offering Thanksgiving dinners this month that feel as close to home as possible. While I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner at just one, I’ve dined at most of them at some point or another, and they all have that fiery hearth of home.
The Vernon Manor
The one time I ate Thanksgiving dinner at this historic hotel, which is modeled after a stately English home, I ran into the band Nickelback, emerging from the elevator … on their way to the buffet? I remember it only because my fiancé had the guts to ask them who they were. They mumbled “Nickelback,” and he laughed, privately to me, saying, “Yeah, big band. I’m sure they’ll be around a long time with that dumb name.” Of course, Nickelback is still around, but the Vernon has outlived many of the bands that have stayed there, including The Beatles, The Monkees, Bob Dylan and The Temptations.
Here’s a sample of what Cincinnati’s own Hotel Chelsea will be serving up this Thanksgiving: Freshly carved turkey and ham, made-to-order omelets, smoked, poached and Creole salmon, tilapia, sweet potato casserole and more. The buffet is 11 a.m.-4.pm., and the price ranges from $27.95 (adults) to $16.95 (kids).
Reservations are recommended. 400 Oak St., Avondale. 513-281-3300.
The National Exemplar
With its fireplaces, warm red brick walls and oak chairs with straw seats, The National Exemplar is one of the homiest restaurants in Cincinnati. Part of The Mariemont Inn, with its Tudor-style architecture, the Exemplar is a good place to stuff yourself and feel at home. One of the only places in Cincinnati that serves Ohio-raised Amish chicken, on Thanksgiving it will also be serving a traditional dinner with a choice of turkey or prime rib for a small price of $26.95. Noon-6:30 p.m.
Reservations are recommended. 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont. 513-271-2103.
Iron Horse Inn
Another historic inn — yes, there is a trend here — the Iron Horse just reopened during the week of the Cincinnati hurricane, as fate would have it. Beautifully renovated, or so I’ve heard, with many small dining rooms reminiscent of dinner at home, the Iron Horse serves New American cuisine. Its Thanksgiving dinner theme will be “Thanksgiving from across our nation” and will include a Pacific Rim version of Turducken — quail stuffed with breast of turkey and cilantro duck sausage, served with citrus greens and smoked Gouda.
If you’re not one to combine multitasking and meat-eating, consider the Midwest entrée, a peanut-fried turkey ballotine (bundled and braised or roasted), served with candied yams and mashed potatoes. The rest of Iron Horse’s Thanksgiving entrée choices sound just as good as the aforementioned.
Cost per person is $24.95. Dinner is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are recommended. 40 Village Square, Glendale. 513-772-3333.
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