Updated October 21, 2013
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, EnglandIn 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 2013, the event will take on a new look with a Thanksgiving Weekend Festival from November 28 to December 31 along the Plymouth Barbican - the waterfront area from which the Mayflower sailed.
Details are always announced relatively late so it's best to keep an eye on the official website to see what's planned. Or you can ring the organizers, Plymouth Barbican Waterfront, on +44 (0)1752 305 468.
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
Find a place to stay in Plymouth and get a good rate
Thanksgiving in the UKA 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 2013
- 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, they are serving up a three course menu, including roast pumpkin soup with garlic croutons, roast turkey with smoked pork stuffing, honey roast parsnips and cranberry sauce, and Pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. The 2013 price of £35/$55 is relatively reasonable, though coffee and drinks will be extra. At Ramsay's Savoy Grill expect to spend £60/$97 plus gratuity, and drinks for a bit more choice and a somewhat more ambitious menu - Cornish crab macaroni and cheese with lobster oil and brioche crumb to start, perhaps, and pumpkin soufflé with almond crumble for dessert.
- 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 three course menus is £40/$65 plus tips and drinks in 2013.
- PJ's Grill A 1930s ambiance in Covent Garden. At the time of posting, their Thanksgiving menu was posted but unpriced. Serves of the real deal, plus veggie courses, like Pumpkin and Ricotta Ravioli in 2010. Ring +44 (0)207 240 7529 to check the current menu.
- 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.
- Calistoga in Edinburgh. For the sixth year running, in 2013, there's a California wine tasting and buffet on the same evening as the dinner so it looks like fun. There's a definite Mexican accent to this year's Thanksgiving - turkey albondigas, chicken and pumpkin molé, roast pumpkin and squash chili with tortilla chips - but that still makes it an all American evening.
- JW Steakhouse at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane is one of the more authentic Thanksgiving dinners, complete with side dishes served family style. Bourbon sweet potato mash, clam chowder, lump crabmeat cake, turkey with apricot stuffing sound good? All the trimmings will set you back more than £60/$97 per person but face it, you won't need to dine out again for days.
- Christophers, Covent Garden - Diners keep voting this restaurant one of London's best for turkey day. And they've just had a massive refurb so expect to celebrate in chic new surroundings. 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 Grand Central Oyster Pan Roast. Peanut butter and chocolate pie anyone? True vegetarians get a fair deal here too, with meat and fish free starters and mains. For £48/$77 per person for three courses in 2013, this is a good choice for foodies.
- 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 has been added to the turkey on the main course platter for two. At £22.95/$37 per person this is one of London's Thanksgiving bargains - but Bodeans bills itself as a "smokehouse" and the turkey is usually smoked!
- The Hilton London Olympia is going for a farely basic but very traditional menu in their restaurant Society. For an adult price of £25, they're serving three courses featuring turkey with all the familiar trimmings and pumpkin pie. No nods to vegetarians though. To book, ring the Society Bar and Restaurant on +44 (0)207 856 1980
- Hard Rock Cafes Gather for the Feast in: