The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many to cancel big family dinners this Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without the fabulous flavors of the holiday.
Local restaurants are cooking up delicious options and offering dine-in, carry-out and delivery, although dine-in options may shrink if COVID-19 regulations tighten.
Bidwell Restaurant inside Union Market in Northeast is serving heritage turkey from Pennsylvania. Chef and owner John Mooney says it’s like the poultry version of an heirloom tomato.
“We brine them and roast them and do a beautiful sourdough stuffing, which would be a bunch of herbs like sage and thyme and a lot of vegetables and roasted garlic.”
Mooney starts work on his homemade gravy three days in advance, and his scratch-made cranberry sauce includes spices you might not expect like nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise. The last one adds a touch of licorice flavor.
Bidwell will offer limited in-person seating indoors and on a heated patio, a grant from the city paid for tents and heaters, and they’re still accepting reservations. They can seat about 40 people at a time.
The restaurant will also offer carry-out.
Because of the pandemic, Mooney says business is down almost 75% “on the dot. “We’ve been having a lot of challenges. Right now, we’re just working to keep the staff employed,” he said.
Equinox in Northwest took reservations for in-person dining on Thanksgiving, and all of the 80 or so available slots are taken.
Just as Bidwell did, they got help from the city to buy tents and heaters so that dining space could be expanded outdoors.
But co-owner Ellen Kassoff says with coronavirus case numbers on the rise in our region, they may have to cancel plans for indoor dining if the city decides it must.
“We are definitely in flux in the sense that we could possibly be converting the in-house reservations that we are currently holding to delivery or takeout,” Kassoff said. “We’re paying attention to what’s going on, so we want to do the right thing and not encourage people to go out and dine if we’re being advised not to.”
Kassoff says if that happens, they will contact those who made reservations, and offer to deliver their food to them.
Equinox will also serve up Thanksgiving dinners for takeout and delivery on the holiday and the day before. Kassoff says if you get your food on Wednesday, they’ll provide reheating instructions.
“Where you may have cooked for 12 (in the past), you can reheat for one,” said Kassoff.
The a la carte menu includes cider-beer brined Pennsylvania turkey, truffled white bean soup and a maple pecan tart. There are numerous other choices, including plant-based ones such as turmeric scented fusilli with chanterelle mushroom bolognese.
They’re accepting preorders for takeout and delivery, and Kassoff is surprised by how many people are ordering Thanksgiving dinner to eat alone.
“The hardest one to see is how many orders there are for one. These people who would have normally gone to see their families. That’s what makes this all hit home a lot,” Kassoff said.
Since March, Kassoff says business has been down 75 to 80%.
Thanksgiving is always special at Old Angler’s Inn in Potomac.
“It gives us a chance to meet our neighbors and provide a wonderful, festive event for them,” said owner Mark Reges.
They plan to offer in-person dining on Thanksgiving, and reservations were still available as of Friday.
“We have our standard menu that we do, a three course menu with multiple options for appetizers and entrees and dessert,” Reges said.
Entrees include slow-roasted Amish turkey breast, rockfish, slow-roasted prime rib and butternut squash & cheese ravioli.
Reges says they normally serve 400 to 500 dinners on Thanksgiving, but this year that will probably be reduced to 100 to 150.
“Anywhere between 45 degrees, believe it or not, and above, we are able to accommodate outside seating because we have a large amount of heaters and fire pits and very expansive grounds. If the weather permits, everyone will be outside and enjoy a nice afternoon.”
And just as Equinox is, Old Angler’s Inn is preparing in case coronavirus regulations change in Montgomery County, and in-person dining has to stop.
“That’s up in the air. Hopefully we’re going to be open and be able to accommodate our guests,” said Reges.
How has the pandemic affected business? Reges says year-to-date, it’s down about 50%. But since they’ve been open they’re only down 10-20%, thanks in large part to their very big outdoor terrace.
“We were able to survive and do well because the weather has been spectacular through the summer on the weekend, thank God. So during the week I’m praying, ‘Please God, give me the weekend, and we’re good.'”
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