8 Delicious Days + Nights: Top Restaurants for Hanukkah 2015

From jelly donuts and savory brisket to crispy potato pancakes and crunchy fried artichokes, the culinary traditions behind Hanukkah are tempting enough to please any palate, whether you’re Jewish or not. Though not the best for those watching their waistlines (it’s customary to eat foods fried in oil or made with cheese), what else is a holiday but the chance to indulge? In anticipation of more than a week of delicious ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights December 6-14, here 8 top restaurants for Hanukkah 2015.

Oceana, New York, New York
Savory and sweet meet at Oceana, where the seafood palace will serve a special latke menu this year created by Executive Chef Ben Pollinger and Executive Pastry Chef Colleen Grapes. Pollinger’s take features an Oceana staple, smoked sablefish, with American caviar atop a sunchoke latke (otherwise known as the Jerusalem artichoke). Grapes’s turn is a sweet potato pancake with quince, concord jam, and crème fraiche. Each is paired with an appropriate spirit — Duval Leroy, Brut, NV, Champagne France for the sunchoke, and Dunham Cellars, Late Harvest Riesling Lewis Vineyard, Washington, to complement the sweet. Offered at the bar, the tasting menu is $22, with an additional $16 for the half-glass wine pairing. Book a table.

Oceana Top Restaurants for Hanukkah

Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s no surprise that Shaya’s Hanukkah menu will be served family-style. “I love cooking every winter during Hanukkah because I get to celebrate the traditions of the holiday,” said chef Alon Shaya, “and all of the great winter produce Louisiana has to offer.” He’s brought Middle Eastern flavors to the gumbo capital of the world while paying homage to the modern evolution of food from his native Israel. Think apple salad, veal brisket schnitzel with Persian cherries, and sufganiyot donuts served with black-tahini gelato. No Hanukkah meal would be complete without latkes, of course, and Shaya’s trio is accompanied by smoked salmon, caramelized oxtail, and whipped feta. If you’re a strict traditionalist, fear not – although he “decided to get fancy with the latkes,” if you want applesauce or sour cream, don’t be afraid to ask your server! Book a table.

Shaya Top Restaurants for Hanukkah

AKASHA, Culver City, California
AKASHA is known for its fresh-juice cocktails, so it’s no surprise that chef Akasha Richmond’s Hanukkah menu features two: the Citrus, with vodka, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, and agave; and the Vanilla Pear, with vanilla vodka, Asian pear, pear/rosemary elixir, and lemon. Vodka and latke pairings are all the rage at trendy Hanukkah parties, and potato pancakes also take the spotlight here, served alongside Akasha’s brisket entrée, and on a small-plate trio with trimmed with apple, salmon, and braised duck. Earthy and unctuous chicken liver, a Jewish staple (the Kosher version of French pate) rounds out the meal with crisp crostini and buttery challah. Book a table.

AKASHA top restaurants for hanukkah

Paola’s, New York, New York
New Yorkers can forgo the deli for delicacies at chef Paola Bottero’s trattoria, where the rich traditions of Roman Jews are honored in one of the Hanukkah dishes she serves annually: Carciofi alla Giudia. These twice-crisped baby artichokes take a bit of patience and time to prepare, but it’s well worth it. Many Jewish cooks believe the art of frying was perfected in the Roman ghetto where Jews were confined from the 16th through 19th centuries. No matter what customers order at Paola’s during Hanukkah, everyone is served complimentary sufganiyot jelly donuts, either at the table or to go. Book a table.

Paola's top restaurants for hanukkah

La Morra, Brookline, Massachusetts
All year long, La Morra regulars anticipate the Passover prezzo fisso, and this year owners Jennifer and Josh Ziskin have Hanukkah covered, too, with a $38.50 four-course meal featuring latkes, matzo ball soup, and executive chef Josh’s savory brisket. The husband and wife team (she’s the wine director) say their connection to the holiday shines through in the dining room. “Josh and I are both Jewish, so Hanukkah has always been important for us. Josh’s brisket, which has served many memories, came to him from his Nana, who is still with us at 101!,” said Jennifer. “Nana and Josh’s mom are both amazing cooks, and Josh definitely inherited his talent from them.” Even the year someone besides Josh cooked the brisket and created a fire in the kitchen’s hood — causing a short closure for repairs – can’t stop the Ziskins from serving this crowd favorite. “You would think the brisket would never appear on the menu again, but it is requested too often to keep it from our guests,” said Jennifer. “We just take extra safety measures!” Beyond the food, she is excited to offer an optional beverage pairing this year for Hanukkah, too. Book a table.

La Morra top restaurants for hanukkahContinue Reading

Tweet of the Week: Restaurants Reach More Diners with Holiday + Seasonal Promotions

Believe it or not, the holiday season is almost here. We’ve got Thanksgiving in Canada on Monday. And, Thanksgiving comes to the states on November 28– as does Hannukah (a convergence being called Thanksgivukkah, according to The Wall Street Journal), followed by all of the fun of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If you’re a planner like I am, you’re probably already giving a lot of thought to your holiday dining. At OpenTable, we try to make it easy for diners to find a terrific table for every holiday through special promotion pages. We urge our restaurant partners to share their information on their holiday and seasonal offerings early and often, just like the folks at The Russian House in Austin, Texas (aka @RussianHouseATX) have. Restaurants can easily and quickly join these free promotions and reach more holiday diners by visiting Restaurant Center.



Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Celery Root

Beneath this gnarly exterior lies delicate deliciousness.

I tend to think of most root vegetables as the foods of a once-desperate people. Looking at a gnarly head of celeriac, or celery root, it’s obvious that a very brave and very hungry person decided it would be dinner. But what the humble celeriac lacks in looks, it makes up for in flavor. Wildly versatile (as you can see from the dishes below), celeriac is a variety of celery — and it tastes like it. Most commonly pureed (it is fantastic with apples or potatoes) or made into a classic remoulade, celeriac dates back to ancient times and enjoyed its first wave of popularity in the Middle Ages. Low in calories, celery root is high in fiber and nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium. Find out what OpenTable diners are saying about the curious vegetable.

Daryl, New Brunswick, New Jersey: “No one left anything on their plates. I had the celery root appetizer, which was outstanding.”

DBGB, New York, New York: “The celery root soup, which my wife had as an appetizer on the three-course lunch menu, was phenomenal. Seriously, it was the single best 2 spoon-fulls of soup I have ever had.”

ELEVEN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:” The seafood platter served had a celery root sauce that was both scrumptious on its own but complemented the perfectly prepared buttery scallops and salmon and crabcake.”

The Fat Radish, New York, New York: “The food was very well prepared and delicious. Big kudos for the celery root pot pie.”

Gallery Restaurant, Charlotte, North Carolina: “The lentils with celery root was so good I am still thinking about it today.”

Continue Reading

Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead ferns are coveted among foragers!

Fiddlehead ferns are another beloved blink-and-you’ll-miss-them springtime treat. There are different kinds of fiddlehead ferns, but only several are actually edible. Local to several areas in North America, including the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the U.S., restaurants on OpenTable are serving this wild treat to the delight of diners.

80 Thoreau, Concord, Massachusetts: “Another great dinner at 80 Thoreau. Had the rabbit paté and the artichoke with barley. The paté was moist and very flavorful. The vegetarian dish was a palette of greens and golds. Indicative of the spring fare were the fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, and golden carrots accompanying the stuffed artichoke. It was presented so beautifully that I didn’t want to disturb it. Delicious dish I would have again.”

8407 Kitchen Bar, Silver Spring, Maryland: “The food is amazing. Loved the fiddlehead/ramp/chicken-of-the-woods mushroom salad! Very skilled server.”

Bricco Trattoria, Glastonbury, Connecticut: “They cook with local ingredients and had fiddleheads for an appetizer, followed by an apple salad with shaved fennel and a light dressing. The veal parmesan with a side of fresh pasta with pork strips in the sauce was excellent. I cannot remember getting a meal of this quality.”

Culina Millcreek, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: “Three of us went to Culina to celebrate a birthday. We all thought the evening special sounded delicious (asparagus soup with blue cheese, Alberta pickerel with fiddleheads), and all of us were extremely pleased. I also love to go to Culina for brunch.”

Fuel Restaurant, Lewiston, Maine: “This is the second time we have been to Fuel, and we were not disappointed. The food was wonderful. We had a dish of fiddleheads cooked in a white-wine reduction with apple smoked bacon — and asked for more bread to sop up the juice.”

Jamestown FiSH, Jamestown, Rhode Island: “We had two fabulous dinners at Fish. The first was a spicy shrimp dish with the most delicious polenta I’ve ever had. The second was a salmon dish with spring veggies, including fiddlehead ferns. Everything that comes out of the kitchen is beautifully presented and tastes fantastic! We wanted to lick our plates!! The chef is extremely creative.”

Continue Reading