The fourth Thursday of November is a day for Americans to celebrate the year’s blessings with family – and to pile their plates high with turkey. Whether you’re an American in Australia looking to mark the occasion or you just want to try your first slice of pumpkin pie, these are the top spots in Sydney hosting a Thanksgiving feast. And if you want to venture a little further afield, there is an island getaway with Thanksgiving feels that might surprise.
NOLA Smokehouse and Bar
Southern-style barbecue and hospitality are the specialities at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, which means too much is never enough when it comes to the Thanksgiving banquet. The menu ticks off all the classics: a whole roast turkey brined in thyme, roast pumpkin, pickles, grilled cornbread with Creole butter and, in the spirit of excess, three pies to choose from – pumpkin, pecan and key lime, all served with the requisite ice-cream or sorbet. If you want to be really thankful maybe try the Thanksgiving-themed cocktail – the Chocolate Maple Sour, featuring Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Maple whiskey and chocolate.
Thursday, 23 November. Lunch and dinner available for groups of six or more; $105 per person plus drinks.
Level 1, Tower 1, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; (02) 9188 3039
When there’s an American in the kitchen, you know the Thanksgiving spread is going to be good. Native New Yorker and head chef Gregory Llewellyn and his wife, Sydneysider Naomi Hart, have been serving a nose-to-tail menu on this busy Newtown stretch since 2012 and celebrating this American occasion with their customers for the past three years. For the holiday, Hartsyard is plating up boneless turkey leg with extra-crisp skin plus an array of sides perfect for drenching in gravy including cornbread madeleines, collard greens served with Hartsyard’s signature hot sauce, mashed potatoes with a serious dollop of butter and sausage stuffing inspired by Llewellyn’s mother’s recipe. The pumpkin dessert is served a little differently here: smashed in a whoopie pie with chocolate, treacle and ginger.
Wednesday, 22 November and Thursday, 23 November. Sittings at 6pm and 8.30pm; $90 per person plus drinks.
33 Enmore Road, Newtown; (02) 8068 1473
The Soda Factory
The regular line-up of hotdogs and hamburgers at this American-style diner will be given a holiday twist on November 23. Enter the venue through the old-style Coke machine, squeeze into one of the booths and order up a Thanksgiving feast of turkey burgers loaded with cranberry sauce, rocket and gooey Brie on a butter bun, tater tots soaked in gravy and cheese and homemade pie and cream. To drink, there’s a Pumpkin Spiced cocktail made with Fireball cinnamon whisky (deadly), peach liquor and puree, lemon, pumpkin syrup and finished with pumpkin foam. There’s live music at The Soda Factory throughout the week and Thanksgiving Thursday is no different with Looped Up Kicks and DJ Glenn B’ Trippin’ set to cover some American classics.
Thursday, 23 November from 5pm. Free entry; menu prices; $12 cocktails.
18 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills; (02) 8096 9120
VictorsFood Thanksgiving Feast
Tuck into your turkey over long, communal tables at VictorsFoods. The menu includes a big bird with all the trimmings (orange and cranberry sauce, fennel and sausage bread stuffing and bourbon gravy) as well as sides that make comfort food fabulous food: fluffy mashed potatoes and sweet potato mash, green beans, cornbread, Brussel sprouts with mayonnaise-mustard sauce. Oh, and don’t forget dessert – a choice (or both!) of pecan or pumpkin pie with bourbon-whipped cream. Accompanied by picky kids? There’s a child-friendly menu that includes crowd-pleasing mac and cheese and guests under 12 eat free.
Thursday, 23 November at 4pm and 8pm and Friday, 24 November at 6pm and 8pm. Adults $76 per person plus booking fee; children 12 to 18 years old $38 per person plus booking fee.
Danks Street Produce Merchants, 3 Danks Street, Waterloo; (02) 9698 7684
Keg & Brew
It’s not so much Thanksgiving Day as Thanksgiving week at Keg & Brew. If too much Turkey is never enough, you’re in luck: the celebrations start on Tuesday, 21 November and kick on until the following Monday. Traditional trappings are given the flick for a Turkey BLT Burger spiked with cranberry jelly and black garlic mayonnaise and turkey meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and goat’s cheese, served with crusty sourdough. To get into the pre-Christmas spirit, anyone who purchases a Brooklyn Brewery Lager goes in the draw to win a six-pack so they can continue the party at home.
Tuesday, 21 November until Monday, 27 November; meals from $17.
26 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9212 1740
Bonus: Norfolk Island
Yep, this remote, rocky outcrop in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between New Caledonia and the northern-most tip of New Zealand is one of the few places outside the US that officially celebrates Thanksgiving (though other countries around the world have similar holidays, including Canada, The Netherlands and Japan). The story goes that American trader Isaac Robinson decorated the All Saints Church to mark the holiday in the 1890s and after his death at sea the following year, the tradition caught on. American whalers based there during the 1960s helped embed the celebration and these days it’s still marked by locals across the sub-tropical island who decorate churches with fresh produce. Key differences? Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving takes place on the last Wednesday of November, rather than the last Thursday and you’re more likely to enjoy suckling pig than roast turkey. Should you wish to celebrate the day in a unique way, the island is a 2.5-hour flight from Sydney or a 1.5-hour flight from Auckland.
Top image: Keg & Brew