For those still without plans for Turkey Day, here is one (beautifully civilized and luxurious) option: Restaurant Lorena's in Maplewood Village, the fine French restaurant consistently rated one of the best restaurants in the area, will be open on Thanksgiving Day.
This is the first time the seven-year-old restaurant will be open on the holiday.
"Lorena and I decided to open because not only was there demand, but the birth of our son Liam Thomas really opened my eyes to the sense of giving, and that is what Thanksgiving is all about," said chef-owner Humberto Campos, Jr., referring to his wife and partner.
"We want to share Restaurant Lorena's with all of our clients, and I know that the holidays are sometimes the only time an entire family really gets together," said Campos. "It's all about family."
Campos said in the past he had kept the restaurant closed on the holiday so that his staff could enjoy the day with their own families.
"This year, my staff said 'yes' (to being open)," said Campos.
The restaurant is nearly booked, but Campos said on Thursday there are still "one or two tables available." (Call 973-763-4460.)
What can the lucky people dining at Lorena's next Thurday expect? Here are just a few selections on the three-course menu (for more details and pricing, visit the website):
Warm Duck Confit, Belgian Endive, Apple, Walnuts, Roquefort, Sherry Emulsion
Butternut Squash Soup, Cranberry Relish, Brioche Crouton
Black Pepper Encrusted Venison Sirloin, Braised Red
Cabbage, Mushrooms, Spaetzle, Juniper Game Jus
Herb Roasted Organic Turkey Breast, Leg Confit, Brussels Sprouts,
Cranberry Relish, Potato Puree, Poultry-Thyme Jus
Warm Apple Tart, Truffle Honey
Peanut Butter and Banana Brioche Bread Pudding
In addition, this year Lorena's began offering off-premises catering.
"I had been approached many times to cater parties and do take-out," said Campos. He hired a new chef, Martin Rangel, to assist him in the kitchen, which enabled Campos to launch catering.
Rangel has worked for Chef David Bouley and also has catering experience.
"We offer everything that is on the regular menu," said Campos, including such signature dishes as Warm Crepe of Crabmeat & Mushrooms, Scottish Salmon Tartare with Creme Fraiche and Crispy Wontons and Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Fennel and Huckleberries.
So far, it has been a huge success, Campos said.
"We do everything from a casual backyard party to a plated, sit-down dinner, for up to 60 people," he said.