Need a break from the kitchen this holiday season?
Step out on the town and taste how local chefs put their spin on traditional holiday favorites.
People who need a hot meal on Christmas will be able to find it during the annual free dinner provided by the Ashland Christian Fellowship, set for noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 25 at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland. All the seasonal favorites plus trimmings will be served.
At Larks restaurant, located in the Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St., in Ashland, diners can experience a three-course meal on Thanksgiving for $39.95 that will start with a choice of winter squash bisque, Oregon bay shrimp cakes or a warm fingerling potato salad. Main course options include slow-roasted turkey, grilled fillet of wild king salmon, pan-seared duck breast or blue cheese-stuffed, twice-baked potato as a vegetarian option.
For dessert, the restaurant will offer a choice of old-fashioned pumpkin pie, Southern-style pecan pie or chai creme brulee.
Ava DeRosier, director of food and beverage, says many of the people who dine at Lark's for the holiday are return guests. The restaurant typically seats 150 to 400 people on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so diners need to make reservations as far in advance as possible.
On Christmas, Lark's will offer a three-course meal with a choice of lobster bisque, blue cheese and winter squash ravioli or an Oregon Waldorf salad for starters. Entree choices will be Dungeness crab-crusted ribeye steak, apple-cranberry stuffed pork chop, pan-seared Oregon Coast ling cod or roasted acorn squash with spinach spaetzle. For dessert, diners will have a choice of snickerdoodle cheesecake, dark chocolate flourless torte or white chocolate peppermint creme brulee.
Reservations can be made online at www.larksrestaurant.com or by calling 541-488-5558.
Wild Goose Cafe and Bar owner Dal Carver staffs his restaurant on Thanksgiving only with servers who want to work the holiday, so they are happy to spend it with customers, he said.
"It's a really nice atmosphere and everybody is happy to be there," said Carver. "We do a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We see it as a chance to be people's home away from home."
The turkey-day feast runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 2365 Ashland St., Ashland, with turkey and all the trimmings, as well as house-made pumpkin pie, for $16.95. Reservations aren't necessary unless six or more people are in your party.
Another holiday option can be found at The Winchester Inn, 35 S. Second St., Ashland, which will provide a "Dickens Christmas Feast" at 6 p.m. Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 and Dec. 5-9, 12-16 and 19-24. The feast will include a six-course meal, with prime rib as the main course. Carolers will serenade diners in between courses, and Santa will make an appearance at the end of the meal to hand out gifts. The cost is $70 per person, which includes Ashland's meal tax, gratuity and a glass of champagne.
On Thanksgiving, The Winchester Inn will offer three seatings, at 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. The meal includes four courses: an appetizer, soup, choice of turkey or braised beef short-ribs and all the trimmings. For dessert, diners will have a choice of pumpkin pie or cherry-apricot croissant bread pudding. The Thanksgiving feast prepared by Chef Billy Buscher starts at $33.50, not including beverages.
"It's great for people who aren't able to spend six hours in the kitchen making Thanksgiving dinner," said Drew Gibbs, The Winchester Inn's general manager. "It's one of those days everyone is in a fantastic mood. The holidays are oddly nice to work because everybody is so happy to be there."
Reservations are required. Call 541-488-1113.
If you have a lot of holiday mouths to feed and don't want to break the bank, Hometown Buffet, 1299 Center Drive, Medford, will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with turkey, ham and roast joined by all the traditional trimmings.
"It's a family thing. Families can sit and talk for awhile," said Valerie Barge, the restaurant's service manager. "People who can't afford to put out a big spread bring their families in because they just can't afford to cook a whole meal for them."
If you want a little scenery and don't mind driving on Thanksgiving, you can head up to the Greensprings or out to Prospect for your feast.
The Historic Prospect Hotel, 391 Mill Creek Drive, will lay out a large buffet at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Choices will include roast turkey basted from the inside with a secret sauce, holiday ham with horseradish sauce, wild rice and whole-grain bread stuffing with gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, herbed red potatoes, sweet potato streusel, vegetable casserole, herbed corn, green bean almondine and homemade cranberry sauce.
Dessert choices will be pecan-apple spice cake, hazelnut-pecan wild blackberry cobbler, pumpkin pie and apple pie.
The cost will be $30 per person. Kids younger than 5 eat for free, while 6- to 12-year-olds pay $1 for each birthday they've had. Non-alcoholic beverages are included. Call 541-560-3664 to make a reservation.
The Green Springs Inn is located near the top of the Greensprings Summit on Highway 66 east of Ashland. Owner Diarmuid McGuire says guests can expect the finest mashed potatoes and gravy they've ever had. The inn's family-style Thanksgiving dinner will have all the traditional foods, plus Barbara Marsh's orange-cranberry relish, a specialty since 1994.
Reservations are required for the one-seating feast, which begins at 2:30 p.m. Call 541-482-0614.
Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at email@example.com.