Bird is the Word: Thanksgiving, Chicago-Style

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Eve is one of several dining rooms carving an atypical Thanksgiving meal. Photo courtesy of

by Jennifer Olvera It wouldn’t really be Thanksgiving without the bird. However, there’s no need to settle for a staid approach — or do any of the heavy lifting yourself. This year, some Chicago restaurants are dishing up unique feasts, ones that require no fuss on your part but offer plenty of full-flavor surprises. Big Jones, for example, will serve a festive, southern-style feast, complete with pimento cheese, okra and pickled green tomato starter; cornbread muffins and Sally Lunn bread with house-churned butter alongside house Concord grape and hot pepper jellies; a choice of appetizers, including butternut squash gnocchi with fried sage, roasted pears and mushroom jus; Vidalia onion and goat cheese pie with herb purée; a Waldorf salad with Redcort apples; and deep-fried Gunthorp Farms turkey with onion-thyme dressing. Needless to say, you can expect other comfort-driven, updated sides ($46 adults, $20 children under 12). At Eve, a $55 prix fixe gets you appetizers like truffled parsnip ravioli in lemon-thyme brown butter and smoked Snake River trout with Brussels sprouts, Marcona almonds and anchovy aioli, followed by the likes of butternut squash bisque with pomegranate molasses, nopales and ancho croutons. Diners may also choose entrées, such as lobster Newburg with herbed egg noodles, chanterelle mushrooms and shaved Brussels sprouts. As for a finale, there’s pumpkin mousseline with chocolate ganache and ginger cream. Is any of this traditional? Nah. But it certainly will put you in a festive frame of mind. We also recommend enjoying Thanksgiving meals at other top restaurants in Chicago and elsewhere.