Preparing elaborate holiday meals can be a challenge even the most experienced of home cooks. Add in the demands of daily life and career, and the stress level around a holiday like Thanksgiving can be through the roof.
Amongst all that food purchasing and preparation angst restaurant operators have recognized an opportunity and are now, in increasing numbers, promoting ways to help home cooks put together a praiseworthy dining occasion for family and friends.
Whether that assistance involves an offering a whole, ready-to-serve feast or just providing a hand in the form of a few side dishes, more and more local establishments are recognizing a business opportunity in “helping out” with Thanksgiving dinner.
The Federal in Agawam, for instance, is offering “whole bird” packages designed to serve six that include a herb-brined bird and all the traditional fixings, right down to a whole pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
Tucker’s Restaurant in Southwick focuses on prepping the sides, offering everything from turkey gravy to a fresh green bean casserole with cheddar cheese sauce. Chef-owner Michael Anderson also has five dessert options on his Thanksgiving take out list.
The Table 3 Restaurant Group in Sturbridge offers a full range of Thanksgiving dinner components, from house-roasted carved turkey and classic sides to three different salad options, including a tasty-sounding Harvest Salad that includes dried cranberries and diced apples as garnishes for the fresh mixed greens.
Typically restaurants offering a Thanksgiving to-go service require advance ordering a week or more before the holiday. Food is then available for pickup “cold” on either Thanksgiving morning or the day before; reheating instructions are, where appropriate, provided.
With the restaurant-sourced help now widely available, any home Thanksgiving celebration can, with a little advance planning, be a triumph.
On Thursday, Nov. 16, the West of the River Chamber of Commerce, which serves the communities of Agawam and West Springfield, will be holding its Food Fest West from 5:30 to 8 p.m. To be hosted by the Crestview Country Club in Agawam, the Food Fest is billed as a chance to sample some of the best food around as prepared by the restaurants represented at the Fest.
A memorabilia auction and raffle will also be part of the fun.
Tickets, which cost $40, are available online.
Crumbl Cookies, the Lindon, Utah-based cookie shop chain, will be holding a grand opening in West Springfield on Nov. 10.
Crumbl Cookies, which has over 900 individual bakeries in the U.S. and Canada, is best known for its milk chocolate chip cookies as well as a weekly rotation of some 200-plus other cookie flavors. Cookies are prepared, baked, and decorated at each location, with what comes from the oven available for store pickup or delivery. A weekly cookie subscription program is also available through the Crumbl app.
Crumbl originated in 2017 in Logan, Utah where one of the co-founders, Sawyer Hemsley, was a student at Utah State University. The chain has since grown into one of the food service industry’s best known “cookie bakery” brands.
The West Springfield location is at 936 Riverdale St., adjacent to the Stop & Shop supermarket. Their telephone number is 413-707-5021.
Wine dinners are returning to Lattitude Restaurant in West Springfield this month with a Napa Valley Wine Dinner scheduled for Nov. 16.
Featuring iconic brands from Napa Valley, the dinner, which is co-hosted by importer and distributor Horizon Beverage Company, will include five courses and five wines.
The dinner, which will begin at 6 p.m., is priced at $100, not including tax or gratuity. Bookings for the wine dinner can be made online or by calling 413-241-8888.
Denny’s locations are offering a special morning food treat during the upcoming holiday season in the form of Salted Caramel Banana Pancakes.
Two of the chain’s signature buttermilk pancakes are served topped with vanilla cream, bananas, and salted caramel sauce. The Salted Caramel Banana Pancakes are available a la carte or can be enjoyed as part of several breakfast combination plates.
There are Denny’s locations on Boston Road in Springfield, on Northampton Street in Holyoke, and on Memorial Drive in Chicopee.
The Barn Restaurant in Granby, Conn., will be hosting a Whistle Pig Rye Social on Nov. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The evening will feature five tastes of Whistle Pig Rye paired with a four course dinner. Tickets for the social are $75 plus tax, gratuity, and convenience fee; they can be purchased at Eventbrite.com.
The Barn Restaurant answers at 860-413-3888.
Fried chicken specialist KFC is bringing back its wraps, which were first available as a limited-time-only option earlier this year.
The wraps feature an extra-crispy fried chicken tender rolled up in a flour tortilla with various other fillings. Returning wrap options include a Classic Chicken Wrap with pickles and mayonnaise and a Spicy Slaw Wrap with coleslaw, pickles, and spicy sauce.
New to KFC’s wrap family is a Mac & Cheese Wrap that includes a fried chicken tender, cheddar mac & cheese, and a three-cheese blend.
The wraps are available as a “two for $5″ deal as well as in a combination meal that includes fries and a drink.
The wraps are part of a KFC plan to “modernize” its menu by adding more boneless, snack-style items.
Participating Friendly’s restaurants are adding three new items to their fountain menu for the holiday season.
A Peppermint Stick Fribble is made from peppermint stick ice cream blended with milk; garnishes of hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry finish the drink.
Barking Pretzel ice cream is featured in a caramel-finished Fribble. It’s also the foundation component in a sundae that’s topped with Swiss chocolate sauce and peanut butter, garnished with brownie bites, and finished with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and a cherry.
All three ice cream constructs will be available through the month of December.
Teresa’s Restaurant in Ware is holding a “Dinner Theater” event on Saturday, Nov. 25.
The evening will feature a performance by the Eagles Experience, a tribute band that specializes in the music of the legendary 1970s rock band.
Dinner, seating for which will begin at 5 p.m., will be a family-style presentation of Teresa’s Italian-American favorites. A cash bar will also be available.
Reservations can be made by calling 413-967-7601.
The Springfield Business Improvement District is sponsoring an indoor winter market twice a month this winter, with the next session scheduled for Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The market is held at 276 Bridge St. Vendors will be on hand and stocked with fresh produce, cheese, eggs, meat breads, pastries, skincare products, and more.
For more information, email the market manager at email@example.com.
Amy Guyette of the Tavern on the Hill in Easthampton sent along a “last call” for ordering Thanksgiving items to go.
The restaurant is offering cider-brined smoked whole turkeys, cornbread and sausage stuffing, and a traditional green bean casserole, as well as other sides such as cranberry relish, mashed sweet potatoes, and turkey gravy.
Orders, which will be available for pickup on Thanksgiving morning, can be placed online or by calling 413-493-1700. Reheating instructions will be included.
Guyette says that the last day for ordering will be Thursday, Nov. 9.
On Nov. 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Stafford Cidery in Stafford Springs will be partnering with the Manchester Cheesecake Company to present a gourmet cheesecake and cider pairing experience. Four different cheesecake flavors will be paired with four hard cider pours.
Tickets can be purchased online, with ticket sales closing at midnight on Nov. 9.
Stafford Cidery answers at 860-851-9339.
Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has nearly 50 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com.