No doubt Thanksgiving will look different this year, with smaller gatherings and an abundance of family meals to-go from restaurants. More about those next week. Meanwhile, a couple of weeks before Nov. 26, operators are menuing turkey in unexpected items. And they’re getting ready for the holiday season with appetizer platters and crowd-size desserts to serve at home. But fall flavors and ingredients continue to trend, including plant-based alternatives, pumpkin and new takes on tacos.
Ike’s Love and Sandwiches
The Going Home for Thanksgiving Sandwich layers the flavors of the holiday between the bread, adding a couple of surprise ingredients. There’s traditional roast turkey and cranberry sauce, but Ike’s jazzes it up with a shot of Sriracha contrasted with mellow Havarti cheese. Customers can also order the Pilgrim, featuring the same ingredients but swapping the turkey for a plant-based on the roster is a plant-based turkey substitute. The Pumpkin is the third new sandwich, a combo of vegan chicken, mushrooms, pesto, avocado, and provolone and pepper Jack cheeses.
Stuffing fans can get their fix in a different application: The Stuffing Waffle with Turkey from Metro Diner. The dish features a savory waffle that’s actually made of stuffing and topped with mashed potatoes and gravy, roast turkey and a side of cranberry sauce. The LTO is available from Nov. 16-29.
Indian-inspired restaurant Bindaas, with two locations in Washington, D.C., is offering several global spins on Thankgsiving favorites. On the menu are Turkey Samosa with caramelized onions, minced turkey and cranberry chutney, as well as a Turkey Burger with green chilies, garam masala and onion-sage pao served with sweet potato fries. Rounding out the turkey lineup is Turkey-Berry Pulao made with saffron basmati rice, cranberries and turkey shorba, a soupy sauce.
The Thanksgiving Burger is on the menu at Slater’s 50/50 all November long. It’s a turkey patty piled with brioche stuffing, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce and garlic-sage aioli on a honey wheat bun. Slater’s bills it as “an entire Thanksgiving meal between the palm of your hands.” To get in the seasonal spirit, customers can accompany the burger with a Pumpkin Pie Milkshake, served with a slice of pumpkin pie on top.
Those thinking ahead to small holiday gatherings will appreciate the latest offerings from Red Lobster. The chain’s new Holiday Party Platters, all available to go, include a Chilled Holiday Seafood Platter with jumbo shrimp, lobster tails and jumbo lump crab meat in a lemon vinaigrette; a Shrimp Lover’s Holiday Platter, with three types of shrimp and assorted sauces; and a Lobster Claw Platter served with cocktail sauce.
Cotton Patch Cafe
Lunch is almost a forgotten meal in the rush to work, get through the school day and plan for the holidays—all under one roof. But Southern-style CottonPatch Cafe is aiming to capture lunch customers with its new specials. Starting last week, guests can order a Chicken Fried Chicken or Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich, fries and a choice of soda or tea with the $8 Lunchbox deal. An updated Winter Menu starts Nov. 18, featuring winter items including a Chicken Fried Pork Sandwich, Chicken Fried Parmigiana and Patty Melt.
The chain known for its Jamaican patties, is now offering a plant-based version of its signature item. Golden Krust’s vegan recipe is prepared with the same authentic Caribbean spices and cooking techniques as the original, using Beyond Meat as the base. The plant-based version is available systemwide at over 100 Golden Krust locations, and is being sold at retail as well, in about 1,000 supermarkets.
Torchy’s November Taco of the Month is the Chili Wagon. The taco is inspired by the flavor of New Mexico red chilies, which are used to create the stewed chicken filling. To complete the build, Torchy’s adds a fried poblano pepper strip, onions, avocado sauce, fresh cilantro and a lime wedge on a corn tortilla. It sells for $5.75.
Corner Bakery Cafe
Indulgent comfort foods are the fall specials at Corner Bakery. Breakfast and brunch customers can start the day with Bananas Foster Pancakes topped with caramel, whipped cream and candied pecans. The candied pecans also are incorporated into two baby bundt cakes—maple pecan pumpkin and caramel pecan chocolate. On the savory side, Chicken Rosa Pasta is now on the menu. The hearty dish is a combination of grilled chicken, Parmesan, spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes, cavatappi pasta, pesto, tomato cream sauce and toasted breadcrumbs.
Guests can now order TGI Fridays’ iconic Rainbow Cake to go. Previously, slices of the cake were exclusive to dining in the restaurants, but starting Tuesday, whole cakes are available to take home for holiday celebrations. Fridays teamed up with Buddy Valastro of Carlo’s Bakery to fulfill the limited-time offer.
A decadent plant-based chocolate dessert is the latest offering from Yogurtland. The Salted Chocolate Souffle, available from now through December, is made with coconut milk for a rich, creamy texture contrasted with a touch of salt.