6 Ways to Ace Dining, Drinking, and Entertaining This Holiday Season
Don't crack under pressure. Here's how to win the holidays, every single year.
Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas menu from Susan Lawrence
Photo by David Kramer
1. No one will know that you didn't make it yourself
Whether you’re looking for a full meal or just a couple dishes to round out your holiday table, these caterers have got you covered.
For a Grand Christmas Dinner
Need a roast with all the trimmings? Each year, Susan Lawrence rolls outs its Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas menu, featuring butter-and-brandy-basted stuffed goose, cheddar-potato gratin, chocolate-raspberry torte, eggnog brûlée cheesecake, and a prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and gravy that would make the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes this day.
For a Cool Cocktail Party
Mount Kisco & Rye
Chef Mogan Anthony and the Village Social Restaurant Group gang recently got into the catering game, and their mix of cool, seasonal libations and fully customizable menus — wood-fired butternut squash crostini, slow-cooked turkey ramen cups, Szechuan tuna tartare wontons — will break you out of the cheese-and-shrimp-cocktail party rut.
Sure, you can get your brisket, chopped liver, and latkes, but where this menu really shines is in having a wide selection of other dishes to shake up eight nights of celebration. On the menu: Cornish game hens with apricot stuffing, seared wild salmon with maple-bourbon glaze, carrot-ginger soup, and kale-arugula-spinach salad with cranberries, feta, and toasted pecans.
photo by Lauren Jefferson
For Christmas Morning
Cooked & Co.
Breakfast has always been the star of the show here, so it’s no surprise that this Scarsdale restaurant/market is a one-stop shop for an epic Christmas-morning buffet, including fluffy egg-white frittatas, Gruyère popovers, cinnamon-sugar French toast, and the famous banana-Nutella crunch muffins.
photo by Julia Tenesace
2. Build a gingerbread house with the kids
This favorite family-friendly activity just got easier — and infinitely more delicious — thanks to everything-you’ll-need kits from local bakers. At Croton-on-Hudson’s Baked by Susan (left), the elements are just like you grew up with, from Sno-Caps wafers for the roof to mini candy canes to line the drive. Or, grab a kit at Flowerbake by Angela in Pelham, where red, green, and white icing can be used to attach candy jewels, sprinkles, and mini sugar figurines. Not in the mood to mess up your kitchen table? Both bakeries offer gingerbread-house workshops throughout December.
Photo by David Shore
3. Get thyself a yule log
While we’re all for homemade cookies and figgy pudding, when we need a real showstopper on the holiday table, we turn to a bakery for a bûche de Noël. At La Renaissance Pâtisserie Française in Scarsdale (below), log-shaped spirals of sponge cake and bittersweet-chocolate cream are finished with a glossy layer or ganache and traditional sugar mushrooms. Or, choose from five different versions at Mount Kisco’s La Tulipe, including red velvet, praline, chocolate, gluten-free vanilla-raspberry, and a decadent rum-spiked chestnut-cream cake.
Photo by Kelsey Irene Schmitt
4. Give the gift of gelt (and doughnuts)
It’s time to upgrade from the plasticky, drugstore stuff you grew up with. At Blue Tulip in Rye, owner Diane Holland uses only high-quality Belgian and French chocolates to make her hand-wrapped Hanukkah gelt (and decorated chocolate dreidels, above). Jelly-filled sufganiyot get a modern spin, too, at Hastings-on-Hudson’s By the Way Bakery, which sold 10,000 of its gluten- and dairy-free kosher doughnuts, filled with raspberry jam, across its four locations last year.
5. Ring in 2020 with a little luxury
Champagne, caviar, and oysters — there’s no better way to cap the holiday season. Before you pop that bottle of Moët or Veuve, consider springing for something a little more special. At Westchester Wine Warehouse in White Plains, you’ll find nearly 50 types of bubbly, including a solid variety of high-quality (but not budget-busting) grower Champagnes, produced by the same estates that grew the grapes. Pair one (or several) with a tin of Petrossian caviar from Scarsdale’s Eastchester Fish Market, where you can also grab some mini crab cakes, seafood salad, and jumbo shrimp cocktail. Or, shell out for some seafood at Fjord Fish Market in Larchmont, which typically offers a couple varieties of East and West Coast oysters this time of year, plus stone crab claws, Alaskan king crab legs, and wild-caught seafood platters.
6. Don’t feel pressured to host
These five restaurants break out the holiday décor and pull out all the stops, so you can have a special meal without lifting a finger (except to order another bottle of wine, of course).
Photo Courtesy of the inn at pound ridge by jean-georges
The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges
Wreathes over some of the four working fireplaces, vintage Santa statues, and a tree sporting gold bulbs and white butterflies strike just the right balance of modern and classic at Jean-Georges’ special-occasion restaurant. The menu, too, straddles the traditional and contemporary, adding Asian- and French-inspired twists to classic New American fare.
An eight-foot-tall tree ushers diners into the classically decorated dining room at Benjamin Steakhouse, where the tasteful array of garlands, wreaths, lights, and poinsettias is almost as impressive as the lump crab cakes, bone-in Prime rib-eyes, and flowing cups of eggnog.
Photo Courtesy of mulino’s
Mulino’s of Westchester
Since 1990, Mulino’s has been adding to its massive collection of holiday figurines, lights, wreathes, trees, and fluffy fake snow. The result: Each year is more over-the-top than the one before, extending beyond the décor to merry carolers, roasted chestnuts, and a menu (add white truffles to everything) of cozy Italian dishes.
Crabtree’s Kittle House
Come December, the 200-year-old building that houses the Crabtree family’s restaurant and inn dons its gay apparel, as the exterior is hung with evergreen garlands, white lights, and wreaths. Inside, crackling fires set the mood for a meal of hyperlocal roasts, fine wines, and decadent American desserts.
Photo Courtesy of Saltaire
The same company that does the décor at Macy’s decks the already stylish halls at Saltaire with trees, bows, greenery, lights, and Christmas bulbs. Adding to the festive feel is a luxurious raw-bar menu of fresh oysters, lobster, and more, meant for sharing with friends over an affordable bottle of bubbly.