Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday. Anytime I'm celebrating a holiday that has some negative historical connotations (I'm looking at you, Columbus Day), I know there's also a segment of the Native American population that is mourning. Growing up, if I saw a kid crying at the birthday party I couldn't enjoy the cake.
This holiday season is going to be even trickier, with the country (not remotely) healing after being divided down the middle during this election cycle. So what better way to build some roads or bridges or whatever metaphor we're going for here, than to reconnect with friends and family?
Adding the creation of a massive, several-course meal into the mix seems fraught with peril, so we're here to recommend a few local Thanksgiving choices that don't require you or the loved ones to baste or brine anything. Central Oregon has choices galore of places hosting a Thanksgiving meal, from the chains (McGrath's) to the staples (McMenamins), but here are a few that might have slipped off your radar.
The Riverhouse has always had a ridiculously delectable and traditional Thanksgiving buffet, but now that Crossings has become Currents, the menu has changed to something a little higher-quality. Listen to some of these course choices: poached pear and beet salad with blue cheese, hazelnuts and arugula. Or how about braised pork Osso Bucco, farro, root vegetables and a wild mushroom demi. For dessert you can go classic with a slice of pumpkin pie or go sinful with a chocolate chestnut mousse cake. ($19-$38)
A Broken Angel's Chef Richard Hull is hosting a seven-course Compassionate Thanksgiving ($55) at NWX's Sparrow Bakery. Barb Troyer from A Broken Angel talks a little about having a cruelty-free holiday. "Now more than ever, it's important that we act compassionately in all areas of our lives; by treating people, nonhuman animals, and the Earth with respect and kindness," says Troyer. "This includes creating new cultural norms by choosing not to consume animals for our meals—this choice is not only kinder to animals, but improves our health and wellness, as well as protects against climate change and biodiversity loss."
Troyer also talks a little about the menu: "The menu will include savory harvest-themed dishes free of animal products. Dishes will be familiar to many—like local whipped Yukon potatoes with wild mushroom gravy, and sweet potato casserole. Mains will include creative dishes like sage-smoked portobello with grilled cornbread stuffing. This dinner is a chance to bring together the rapidly growing vegetarian and vegan community in Bend for an evening of cruelty-free dining while celebrating the rescued farmed animals of Harmony Farm Sanctuary."
If you still want the comfort of your own couch while eating but without any of the pesky cooking, Bowtie Catering is offering a take-out Thanksgiving menu. Bowtie's menu is thick with Pacific Northwest twists on comfort food, but they smartly decided to keep it simple for Thanksgiving. Owner Sanda Costello explains: "The chef decided to keep it simple and traditional for our first year doing store pick up. Hopefully, next year we get to play a little."
With menu items like an Oregon berry cobbler for two ($8), homestyle mashed potatoes ($4 pint or $8 quart) an oven roasted turkey dinner ($25 for two or $37 for four), simple sounds divine.
Brasada Ranch is turning the holiday into a Thanksgiving weekend worthy of legend. There are complimentary pony rides, all day flag football championships, a three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner ($28-$50), a Black Friday bloody mary bar, Santa's Candyland, carriage rides and a screening of the Civil War game, so there is literally something for every single member of your family. Watch that sullen teenager try and act above it all when you give them a PONY TO RIDE!
If we can look past our divisive politics and our bloody history, we can basically do anything. Thanksgiving isn't just a time to be grateful for the people in our lives who love us, but it's also a chance to eat so much we fall asleep looking at them or listening to them. If that's not family, I don't know what is.