Christmas Eve: A holiday filled with bountiful food, family, and hearthside fun. The vast majority of Long Islanders will spend their holiday at home—or at the home of a friend or family member. But what about those wayward souls with no good family cooks? If your mother is prone to overcooking the roast, there are options for a great Christmas Eve meal out on the Island. From the Feast of Seven Fishes (as replicated in a restaurant setting) to the finest in Chinese, here are five places you should consider eating at this holiday if you’re not planning on dining in.
If you’re from an Italian family (I am, through domestic partnership), you already know that it’s Christmas Eve—and not the day itself—that commands the most importance in the culinary oeuvre. And anyone on the East End who has tried making a Citarella run for seven courses’ worth of seafood on a holiday afternoon knows that sometimes you just have to throw in the towel and head out to eat instead. Lucky for you, Italian friends, the North Fork’s Caci makes that easy, by serving The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m., where guests will encounter a range of selections, from shellfish on. Seafood offerings change yearly, but the price–$75 prix fixe—remains the same. Reservations are required.
Caci North Fork, 56125 Main Road, Southold, (631) 765.4383, dinner served from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
View this post on Instagram
Kung Pao Chicken ("Most Famous Szechuan Chicken"), served without the peanuts. Not as spicy as other Kung Pao’s I’ve eaten, but the chicken was quite tasty. Chef Wang Chinese Restaurant in New Hyde Park, NY #KungPao #Chicken #ChineseFood #ChineseRestaurant #NewHydePark #NHP #NassauCounty #NewYork #NY #LongIsland #Delicious #yummy #tasty #Food #FoodPic #FoodPorn #InstaFood #TheChineseQuest #ChefWang http://www.thechinesequest.com/2015/05/review-chef-wang-new-hyde-park-ny/
In Judaism, there is a long-standing Christmas Eve tradition, which involves Chinese food and a movie. I’ll dispense with the movie in favor of It’s a Wonderful Life on my living room flat screen, but give up the Chinese? Never. New Hyde Park plays host to a very fun, somewhat traditional Sichuan restaurant, Chef Wang, which, in true immigrant tradition, stays open for the holiday, slinging hot pots, lamb with cumin, spicy pork, and soup dumplings. You may find it’s busier than you expected, owing to tradition, so call ahead to guarantee a spot. And then make like my fellow Ashkenazis and get thee to a spicy eatery. Christmas Eve was made for dumplings.
Chef Wang, 1902 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, (516) 354.2858, call for holiday hours.
For the white china lovers among us, Stony Brook’s Restaurant Mirabelle is a must-visit any time of year. But with their special Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve dinners, this spot is a holiday dream. Mirabelle has been awarded 4 stars from both Newsday and the New York Times—but if that’s not reason enough to spend your holiday there, consider the menu. A $65 Christmas Eve menu exhibits dining at its most luxurious, featuring seared foie gras with a pumpkin gnocchi ragout; wild boar terrine with pickled sour cherries; roasted prime rib and leek bourguignon; braised short ribs over sweet potato puree and cranberry jam; and “festive desserts” (for whatever that’s worth). Kids dine for half price and reservations are required.
Restaurant Mirabelle, 150 Main Street, Stony Brook, (631) 751.0555, call for holiday hours and reservations.
Join Chef Jeremy Blutstein and company as they pay continued homage to the pig (this will be the third pig-centric dinner since Blutstein took the reins last April, if you’re keeping count) with a Chinese suckling pig event for the Jewish (and for those who wish they were). This year will be the 17th Christmas Eve that Almond celebrates with a suckling pig, an idea spearheaded by Jewish executive chef Jason Weiner. Past pigs—brined overnight with salt, sugar, and aromatics—have been served with spaetzle, cabbage, and caramelized apples. Kosher pork inclinations notwithstanding, this meal promises, as always, to be a real holiday treat. Reservations are required.
Almond Bridgehampton, 1 Ocean Road, Bridgehampton, (631) 537.5665, call for holiday hours.
Sag Harbor is rife with holiday spirit, from the low ceilinged and old school American Hotel to the decorative Christmas trees peppering the streets. And few haunts feel as holiday-ish as Baron’s Cove, where a fire is always roaring in the tiny, cozy bar room and where cool weather lovers can escape to the bluestone patio, which is outfitted with a separate fireplace and heat lamps. Upstairs, in the bright, lofted, marine-themed space, holiday patrons can enjoy a Christmas Eve dinner fit for a ship captain. The prix fixe menu features everything from local scallops to game hen. Finish the meal with a slice of apple pie made from East End apples. And feel free to linger. The dining room view of the water, swaying boats and all, makes for an exceptional experience, regardless of the season. Reservations are recommended.
Baron’s Cove, 31 Water Street, Sag Harbor, (844) 227.6672, call for holiday availability.