Christmas Eve dinner is widely recognized as a time for families to gather round a delicious meal and relax before the whirlwind of Christmas Day festivities begin. It’s a chance to reflect on what makes the holidays special: tables decorated in garland, Christmas crackers, family, friends and, of course, amazing food.
But what might make your Christmas Eve dinner even more enjoyable is if you don’t have to prepare it. As luck would have it, some of the Triangle’s most celebrated chefs have done the work for you. Here are the delicious details on where to dine out for an exquisite Christmas Eve dinner. Bonus: Some of these chefs have also provided recipes for those of you who desire to make your own Christmas Eve dinner.
Call the restaurants or visit their websites to reserve a table. But don’t hesitate! Reservations fill up quickly at these establishments.
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen
301 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100, Raleigh
919.828.0018 | plateskitchen.com
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen offers a Christmas Eve dinner created by Chef David Mitchell you can enjoy any time before 7:30 p.m. In years past, Plates has offered herb-rubbed prime rib, confit duck and succulent mountain trout. The warm and festive atmosphere provides an intimate setting for friends and loved ones. Want to take the feast home with you? Plates’ Christmas package feeds six to eight. Enjoy a roast turkey breast and leg confit dresses with warm gravy and sides such as fresh, roasted vegetables and Union Special baguettes with house butter. For dine-in or takeout dessert, be sure to indulge in Mitchell’s famous Figgy Pudding.
Chef David Mitchell’s Figgy Pudding (may also be made with dates, as pictured above)
Preparation time: Less than 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30–60 minutes | Serves 6
5 ounces of figs or dates, chopped
9 fluid ounces of hot water
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2¼ ounces of butter, softened
2¼ ounces of caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
5 ounces of self-rising flour
Preheat the oven to 370 degrees. Mix the figs, baking soda and water together in a bowl and leave the mixture to soak for 10 minutes. In a clean bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Still stirring the butter mixture, gradually add the eggs, making sure they are well mixed in. Still stirring, gradually add the flour, then add the date mixture. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square cake tin. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, or until cooked through.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, cream, and the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
To serve, cut out a portion of the pudding onto a plate and pour the hot toffee sauce over it. Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa
100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary
919.447.4000 | theumstead.com/dining/herons
Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa offers an elegant, romantic Christmas Eve dinner every year with a seasonal menu accompanied by a vast list of wines and spirits. Previously, the restaurant has offered a four-course experience featuring a roast duck beside pickled quince and caramelized sweet potato, and a stunning steakhouse filet served with potato butter* (recipe below), broccoli and sunchoke relish. Enjoy Herons’ five-star cuisine surrounded by the restaurant’s aesthetic private art collection and intimate, polished wood interior.
Chef Steven D. Greene’s Chestnut Soup
2 quarts of fresh chestnuts
2 quarts of frozen chestnuts
3 onions, peeled and sliced
.75 liters of Madeira
2 bacon strips
¼ pound of butter
1 quart of milk
Add the bacon to a large braising pot and render. Lightly caramelize the onions, then add the chestnuts and “truffles,” which are optional. Deglaze with the Madeira. Reduce the wine by half. Add double the volume of chestnuts worth of chicken stock and simmer until the nuts are tender. Blend with cold butter and pass through a chinois. Season with salt.
*To make the potato butter mentioned in the above paragraph, peel and quarter 2–3 Yukon gold potatoes. Add them to cool filtered water with 3 grams of salt. Boil the potatoes until they are tender. While the potatoes cool, warm up 25 grams of heavy cream and ensure that you have 170 grams of soft plugra butter at room temperature. Strain the potatoes and put them through a potato ricer or a China cap. Whisk the riced potatoes with warm cream and butter in a mixing bowl. Add 3 additional grams of salt. For extra refinement, strain once more through a fine chinois.
500 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100, Raleigh
919.803.6033 | vidrioraleigh.com
Enjoy a beautiful collection of glass-blown decor, Mediterranean tiled walls and an incredibly vibrant menu at Vidrio for Christmas Eve. With an emphasis on the communal nature of dining, Chef Saif Rahman brings patrons together through a rich array of fresh fish, roasted meats and seasonal ingredients all cooked in the purest olive oil imported from Greece. Vidrio’s Christmas Eve menu offers limited but elevated cuisine highlighting his talented kitchen staff’s creativity. Enjoy shareable entrees such as duck á l’orange, slow-roasted pork and lamb tagine, all served with their own Mediterranean twist.
Chef Saif Rahman’s Bengali Holiday Turkey 16–20 servings
An 8- to 10-pound whole bird, washed and dried, is needed for this recipe.
Spiced Butter Ingredients
6 tablespoons of softened ghee
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup of toasted ground cumin
½ cup of toasted ground coriander
2 tablespoons of ground turmeric
2 tablespoons of chili flakes
3 tablespoons of mustard powder
2 tablespoons of Kashmiri chili powder
6 tablespoons of kosher salt (or more, to taste)
5 tablespoons of garlic paste
4 tablespoons of ginger paste
Zest of 3 lemons
Spiced Butter Directions
Mix the ghee, butter, spices, garlic and ginger pastes, and zest together. Massage this spiced butter all over the turkey and let the turkey sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Once the turkey has marinated for the full amount of time, take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm to room temperature, then proceed with the next steps.
2 cups of cooked kidney beans
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1 orange, sliced thick
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
Mix the beans, orange slices, salt and pepper together. Set aside.
Mixed Vegetable Ingredients
15 small red potatoes
1 bunch of celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
20 small-to-medium carrots, washed and unpeeled
3 large red onions, cut into quarters
2 bunches of parsley, washed and cleaned
¼ cup of fresh oregano
¼ cup of fresh thyme sprigs
3 leeks, with white and tender green
parts cut into 1-inch rings
5 bay leaves
½ cup of peanut or sunflower oil
¼ cup of kosher salt
Mixed Vegetable Directions
Mix all ingredients together and put them in a roasting pan.
Bengali Holiday Turkey Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the stuffing inside the turkey and tie the legs together to secure it. Put the turkey on top of the vegetables in a roasting pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Cook for another 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees when you stick a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching the bone) and 155 degrees in the breast. Take it out of the oven and rest the turkey for 20 minutes before carving it. Check the breast’s final temperature; it should read 165 degrees from carryover cooking. Serve the turkey with the stuffing and roasted vegetables.
Chef Saif Rahman’s Mexican Christmas Ponche 24–30 servings
2 gallons of water
4 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
10 long tamarind pods,
husks and seeds removed
7 large guavas, peeled and diced
4 medium red apples, peeled,
cored and diced
3 medium pears, peeled,
cored and diced
2 4-inch sugar cane sticks, peeled nd diced*
2½ cups of pitted prunes
1 cup of sultana raisins
3 medium oranges, sliced ¼-inch thick
14 ounces of chopped piloncillo or
1 cup of packed dark brown sugar*
Brandy, mezcal or anejo tequila
Place water, cinnamon sticks, cloves and tamarind pods in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain and discard all the spices and tamarind. Return the liquid back to the pot.
Add the guavas, apples, pears, sugar cane sticks, prunes, raisins, oranges and piloncillo or brown sugar. Simmer the mixture for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To serve, ladle the punch into coffee cups or mugs, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit. If desired, add an ounce of brandy, mezcal or tequila to each cup.
*Sugar cane sticks can be found fresh or frozen in most Mexican grocery stores, as can piloncillo, a raw form of pure cane sugar, also known as Mexican brown sugar.
5160 Sunset Lake Road, #101, Apex
984.229.7480 | osteriag.com
For a family-oriented Christmas Eve dinner, try Osteria G’s authentic Italian comfort food. Feel the holiday spirit as you sit near the dining room’s Christmas tree adorned with rustic, homey ornaments. Osteria G’s Christmas Eve specials include a seasonal pasta dish incorporating fresh, wintry ingredients inspired by the holidays, as well as other Italian classics featuring a Christmas twist. In the past, the restaurant has offered surf and turf with a béarnaise sauce, a slow-roasted herb stuffed porchetta and a rotating array of Tuscan wines, including a flavorful Montepulciano.
Osteria G’s Winter Spiced Pot de Creme Serves 8
1 quart of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of vanilla paste
8 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
220 grams of granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 gram of cardamom
1 gram of nutmeg
20 grams of crushed cinnamon sticks
Boil the cream and vanilla paste. In a separate bowl, mix together all eggs, sugar, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Slowly add the scalded cream to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Strain the mixture and fill eight 6-ounce ramekins. Arrange the ramekins in a pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake at 280 degrees until the mixture sets (when the amount that jiggles is the diameter of a nickel). Cool and serve.
Mulino’s Italian Kitchen & Bar
309 N. Dawson Street, Raleigh | 919.838.8595 | mulinoraleigh.com
Looking for a place to host a party for the workplace? Skip the stress and celebrate the season with a holiday party at Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar. Though the restaurant is not open Christmas Eve, it’s the perfect destination for a holiday outing with friends, family or coworkers. Offering multiple private dining areas that can accommodate groups of varying sizes, as well as three gorgeous bars, Mulino’s Italian Kitchen & Bar makes it easy for you and your guests to enjoy a festive holiday cocktail.
Chef Samad Hachby’s Chanterelle and Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Cooking time: 30 minutes | Serves 4
240 grams (8.47 ounces) of Carnaroli rice
200 grams (7.05 ounces) of porcini
1 large porcino
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cups of vegetable broth
1 glass of white wine
Pepper, to taste
Parsley, to taste
Sage, to taste
To prepare the porcini risotto, start by placing the mushrooms on a cutting board. Clean the mushrooms with a sponge and a small knife, without washing them, to remove the earthy parts, then cut them into strips. Chop the shallot and fry it in a saucepan with a drizzle of oil. Add the rice and toast it, then blend it with the wine. Let the alcohol evaporate, then wet the rice with a ladle of hot broth and cook it, adding more broth if necessary.
Halfway through cooking, add the mushrooms and mix everything together. Once the rice is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and add a little grated Parmesan cheese and a knob of butter, then stir it vigorously to emulsify it. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
3460 Ten Ten Road, Cary
919.267.6011 | chefspalette.net
Chef’s Palette’s warm and friendly atmosphere offers a Christmas Eve dinner that is both a family-oriented and fine-dining experience all at once. The land-and-sea restaurant typically features a menu with home-cooked flair. The Christmas Eve menu features an eclectic array of appetizers, salads and entrees. Elevated comfort foods such as creamy shrimp and grits are enjoyed alongside pan-seared scallops, chicken Francese, steak frites and other all-American classics. For dessert, enjoy creme brûlée, pumpkin bread pudding and Chef Ryan Summer’s famous chocolate Oreo pie. In addition to a dine-in experience, Chef’s Palette is also offering a pickup option for its Christmas Eve dinner.
Chef Ryan Summers’ Herbes de Provence–Marinated Lamb Rack With Balsamic Red Wine Reduction Serves 3–4
2 racks of lamb
Balsamic red wine reduction
Combine the herb marinade ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Cut up two racks of lamb into 2–3 bone portions. Add the lamb to the bowl, coating each piece well with the marinade. Cover and marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for 24–36 hours. Grill the lamb until the meat reaches a temperature of 130 degrees. Let the meat rest for 5–10 minutes before serving with the red wine reduction, either on top of the lamb or on the side as a dipping sauce.
Herb Marinade Ingredients
1 large shallot, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
¼ cup of mint, chopped
1/3 cup of herbes de Provence (can be purchased at most grocery stores)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic Red Wine Reduction Ingredients
Half a bottle of red wine
1½ cups of balsamic vinegar
Shallots, mint and rosemary, to taste
Veal demi-glace or beef bouillon, to add flavor and consistency
¼ cup of honey
2 tablespoons of butter
Balsamic Red Wine
Sweat the shallots. Deglaze with wine, balsamic and veal demi-glace or beef bouillon. Add the mint and rosemary, then reduce the mixture by half. Add in the honey and butter. Strain the mixture and then serve the sauce on top of the lamb or on the side as a dipping sauce.
Chef’s Tip: Serve the lamb and sauce with two bunches of broccolini. Blanch the broccolini, then cook it lightly in 3 tablespoons of butter with garlic, shallots and chicken stock, to taste. Serve all of the above with Israeli couscous with sautéed fresh tomato, olives and basil.
326 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh
919.881.8333 | tavernaagora.com
Taverna Agora offers a quaint, family-oriented Christmas Eve experience, where diners can enjoy the tastes of Greece inside a charming, picturesque dining room. The familiar blue and white table coverings, ceramic pottery and rich images of the Mediterranean coasts will transport you to the Greek Isles while you enjoy a three-course Christmas Eve dinner.
In the past, Taverna Agora has offered a 12-ounce ribeye and Astakos grilled lobster tail paired with imported Greek wines or hand-crafted cocktails. The restaurant embodies Greek gathering tavernas and encourages a serene, communal atmosphere where friends and families can gather to enjoy a meal without stress.
Chef Spyros Skellas’ Greek Christmas Lamb in Parchment Paper Serves 8
1 8-ounce lamb leg, bone-out
8 ounces of kefalotiri (saganaki) cheese, shredded
4 medium-sized carrots, shredded
2 ounces of pine nuts, toasted
4 cloves of garlic
3 ounces of olive oil
1 teaspoon of pink whole peppercorn
3–4 branches of fresh thyme
1–2 teaspoons of oregano
2–3 branches of fresh rosemary
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and dry the meat. Toast the pine nuts without oil.
In a large mixing bowl, add the shredded carrots, kefalotiri cheese, pine nuts, salt, pepper and oregano. Place the meat on a large piece of parchment paper. Rub it with salt, pepper and oregano. Make small incisions and tuck in pieces of garlic, some of the carrot and the cheese mixture. Use the remaining mix to cover the meat, then add the pink peppercorn and drizzle it with olive oil. Roll the meat into a firm roll and secure it with string or baker’s twine.
In a large mixing bowl, add the potato wedges and season them with salt, pepper and oregano. Place the meat roll at the center of the parchment paper and distribute the potatoes all around it. Add the herbs. Wrap everything and tie the parchment paper with some string or baker’s twine. Dampen the paper and put it in the oven on a pan. Cook for about 2 hours.
Angus Barn 9401 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh | 919.781.2444 | angusbarn.com
While not open for Christmas Eve, a holiday meal created by Angus Barn Chef Walter Royal is worth a visit. Shop the restaurant’s traditional country store while you’re there to find holiday snacks and appetizers that will make your home glow with Southern hospitality. Every holiday season, Angus Barn hangs beautiful garland, Christmas lights and gorgeous ornaments around its rustic dining room. It’s the perfect place to treat incoming family and friends.
Angus Barn Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce Serves 10–12
2 loaves of French bread
2 quarts of milk
4 cups of sugar
4 tablespoons of vanilla
6 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of yellow raisins
2 cups of chopped pecans
Soak the bread in milk and then add the raisins. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together, then stir into the bread mixture until mixed well. Add the nuts and mix again.
Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray and pour the melted butter into the pan to coat the bottom. Pour the pudding mixture into the pan and bake in a water bath until it is very firm—about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let it cool.
Bourbon Sauce Ingredients
2 pounds of butter, melted
8 cups of sugar
16 ounces of bourbon
Bourbon Sauce Directions
Cream the eggs, sugar and bourbon. Pour the warm butter over the egg mixture. Place the mixture in a double boiler and heat it until the sugar dissolves.
A Few More Options
Sullivan’s Steakhouse 410 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100, Raleigh
Sullivan’s Steakhouse offers a warm, social and luxurious atmosphere within the walls of its yellow-brick Creamery Building location in downtown Raleigh. Guests will find the elegant lacquered bar tops and tables decorated for the holidays, as well as a cozy Christmas feel beneath floods of warm light and polished wood. Enjoy Sullivan’s Steakhouse’s stellar a la carte menu, helmed by Executive Chef Mario Ledezma and featuring classics such as hand-cut steaks and signature cocktails. Customers can also participate in the restaurant’s holiday gift program, which offers guests a $10 gift card for every $100 enjoyed there. Make a Christmas Eve reservation at sullivanssteakhouse.com or by calling 919.833.2888.
a’Verde Cocina + Tequila Library 2300 Walnut Street, Cary
Experience a vivacious, lively atmosphere this holiday season at a’Verde Cocina + Tequila Library in Cary, where Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe takes a creative approach to Mexican fare. His trendy menu features fresh North Carolina ingredients and incorporates them into entrées that reflect the latest culinary trends. Choose from familiar dishes with an avant-garde twist: adobo marinated meat and sizzling vegetables, for example. Reserve a table for Christmas Eve at averdecary.com or by calling 984.200.3469.
The Peak on Salem 126 N. Salem Street, Apex
Enjoy Christmas Eve right in the middle of historic, festively decorated downtown Apex at The Peak on Salem. The restaurant’s gorgeous lacquered bar, and brick and marble accents envelop diners in a cozy, upscale ambience, where prime cuts of steak and fine wines serve as the centerpiece for an amazing culinary experience created by Chef Steve Zanini. The restaurant has offered a traditional three-course Christmas Eve dinner in the past, during which customers enjoyed twice-buttered cornbread and fresh salad alongside herb-roasted pork loin or prime rib entrées. Settle in and order a craft cocktail while enjoying an elevated, yet relaxed scene. Make a reservation at thepeakonsalem.com or by calling 919.446.6060.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen 7307 Tryon Road, Cary
For a Southern-inspired Christmas Eve meal, head over to Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, where Chef Dan Hoskins serves up delicious comfort food rendered with an array of local ingredients. From fried green tomatoes to Cheerwine-braised short ribs, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen offers every Southerner’s dream meal with a farm-to-table twist. Enjoy your favorite dishes in the restaurant’s beautiful garden patio or modern-chic dining room. Make a Christmas Eve reservation at lucky32.com.