There might be a new modus operandi in town on Thanksgiving Day. It’s called “eating out.” There is no fuss, no muss. Dinnertime is your reservation time. There is no planning, no grocery store run and, the best part, no clean-up. The one thing you must do is make sure the food is good and it hits the appropriate notes for your annual celebration.
My beautiful sister-in-law Pia called asking for some restaurant suggestions in Harlem for Thanksgiving dinner. While I was doing my research, I was happy to see so many places offering prix fixe menus for the day. Some were a little pricey, most were not, and all knew the meal had to be authentic.
Pia decided on Chez Lucienne (308 Lenox Ave., 212-289-5555, www.chezlucienne.com) and invited me along. With the company of my brother and his family, I spent a lovely early evening in Harlem having my first “French” Thanksgiving.
The best part of a prix fixe for me is the limited and focused choices. It kind of reminds me how I love plane food just because it’s all compartmentalized and your choices are limited to two. I like the joy in the focus.
Chez Lu’s (the Harlemite slang) menu started with a creamy pumpkin bisque that was light and slightly sweet. It was perfect for bread dipping. My nephew Walker, the food connoisseur, earnestly reserved half of his terrine of bisque to accompany his plate of food. I was impressed.
The main plate featured a mound of some damn good turkey, perfectly seasoned and moist! Mashed yams, chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce–which my food critic prodigy Walker thoroughly enjoyed, coveting his brother’s until his brother gave in–and sauteed spinach accompanied it. My only Thanksgiving wish would have been greens or string beans in place of that delicious spinach. It is Harlem, for goodness sakes! Take note for next year.
Dessert was a choice between pumpkin pie or ricotta cheesecake. I was the only one to take the cheesecake. As I watched my other nephew Alex house his pumpkin pie and ice cream with a smile on his face, I was done after my first bite. The cheesecake wasn’t as moist as other ricotta versions I’ve eaten. Thanks to our astute server, my error in choice was happily rectified and to great satisfaction! Alex, you know your sweets!
Thanks to my brother and his family for a memorable Thanksgiving. And thank you, Chez Lu, for the delicious food … and for doing the dishes! Until next time…
With less than 30 days until Christmas, there isn’t much time to dally. There are gifts to buy, holiday parties to throw and attend, foods to eat … and weight to gain. Get to it.
I am preparing for an end-of-year wrap-up and desperate for your Harlem culinary winners for the year. It can be a food, a dish, a restaurant or eatery or person. Please email, Facebook or tweet me with your nominations. Use #BestofHarlem2012.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter @SCHOPgirl or Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.