For some of us, Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless we’re eating turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings. For others, the turkey is the backdrop with new dishes introduced time and again. In my family, any diversion from strictly traditional Thanksgiving meal is considered sacrilege by the men in the family, while it’s the women (the cooks) who always want to try something new.
Last Thanksgiving we were forced to try something new. My 87-year-old father was hospitalized with Covid, leaving the holidays 100% more stressful than ever before. So, for the first time in my family history, my brother and I insisted that my mom NOT cook. We ordered take-out from the business he works at, and while a few of the dishes were prepared slightly different than what mom would have made, it was still a classic Thanksgiving, and it meant everything to know she could relax and enjoy time with the family instead of cooped up in the kitchen. With clean-up being easier without all those pots and roasting pans to deal with, we’ve voted to order in again this year, but adding some homemade pumpkin and cherry pie just to keep some of the tradition in place, and because Dad is back home and asking for some!
With that in mind, I was grateful to be invited to a media dinner at Phillippi Creek Restaurant & Oyster Bar. I haven’t attended a media hosting for almost 2 years, so it was great seeing some of the writers I haven’t seen in a while. For full disclosure, I did not pay for my meal, but I promise I would pay for the pleasure in a heartbeat. The sweet potato cobbler alone is a reason to get excited about Phillippi Creek Restaurant’s Thanksgiving menu, but that’s not the only thing!
First, let me remind you, guests can order family-style packages for 4, 8, or 12 people, and arrange to pick up their meals on Wednesday, (11-24) or Thanksgiving day itself. You will want to order at least 48 hours in advance . . . OR . . . why not dine-in on Thanksgiving Day, explore the entire menu while enjoying the calming views of Phillipi Creek and avoid dishes altogether! You’ll want to call ahead for parties of 8 or more. Check their website for details.
But, before you rush off to their website, let me tell you a bit about their Thanksgiving menu. You can order anything off their regular menu or stick to their elevated twists on some of the classics.
The turkey itself is the traditional oven-roasted preparation that we’ve come to love and expect. The dressing, however, is special . . . made with croissants, sage, and andouille sausage, the stuffing does not need gravy to make it delicious. The creamy mashed potatoes are soft and buttery, while the turkey gravy reminds me of what mom makes at home, with the additional twist of aromatic sage undertones. (It was so good one of the media writers ordered a pint to take home that evening!)
For the side dishes (because mashed potatoes and dressing aren’t really “side dishes” on Thanksgiving) the sweet potato cobbler was my personal favorite. Earthy and sweet, this is the same recipe Chef Pedro Flores featured during Thanksgiving at The Table, the swanky restaurant they owned for over a decade. I cannot describe what makes these sweet potatoes so stellar, but I did notice every single food writer nodding their head “YES!” when they took their first bite.
Also quite lovely was the broccoli au gratin, with a creamy béchamel sauce and a crunchy mound of fried onions on top. This would be delicious any time of the year, it’s just festive enough, and elevated to fit well with Thanksgiving.
An additional big hit was the elegant flavor of the Valencia orange cranberry jam, served instead of cranberry sauce. We asked the manager, Amy, what made it so special and she told us the Valencia oranges were flambéed in Grand Marnier before mixing in with the fresh cranberries. I don’t know about you, but my mom and grandmother never flambéed anything! I hope the restaurant plans to sell jars of this in the adjacent Creekside Trader giftshop.
And finishing out the little twists that Chef Florez showcases on his Thanksgiving menu was the hominy cornbread, which I recommend you order extra slices of so you can make turkey sandwiches with it the next day. Because while you won’t have pots and pans to wash, each order is large enough that I took home leftovers! And isn’t that another thing we love about Thanksgiving?
So whether you decide to order take-out or dine-in, keep Phillipi Creek Restaurant and Oyster Bar on your shortlist for Thanksgiving, and be sure to order one of their special Apple Cider Mojitos for an updated holiday cocktail. Or, add a side of fresh steamed oysters, clams, or lobster tails to add those “taste of the sea” holiday flavors that were surely offered way back when Thanksgiving was first celebrated!