Everything But The Bird: This Year We’re Thankful for Side Dishes

Photo by Tony Tran

Seared foie gras at Andrea’s in Encore | Photo by Tony Tran

Turkey. Potatoes. Gravy. Stuffing. How many ways can you possibly enjoy the same holiday meal over and over again? Turns out, plenty! While turkey always gets the glory, the real heroes are the more versatile side dishes, and every region seems to have its own version.

  • Take Andrea’s (in Encore, 702-770-5340, WynnLasVegas.com), for example. A solid appetizer, the seared foie gras with Hawaiian bread dressing and cranberry-miso gastrique combines haute ingredients with Asian influence. (You can also opt for this as an entrée, served with Muscovy duck breast).
  • Andre’s at Monte Carlo (702-798-7151, AndreLV.com) offers the truly elegant experience of a four-course, $90 prix-fixe menu demonstrating how a French restaurant interprets an American holiday. If the starter of chestnut macaron filled with foie gras mousse is any indication, we will happily forget about most of the traditional New England-inspired dishes.
  • How do you make your Thanksgiving a little Spanish? Have it José’s Way at Bazaar Meat (in SLS, 702-761-7610, SLSLasVegas.com/Thanksgiving), where the three-course, $85 prix-fixe menu begins with the chef’s signature Ferran Adria olives and croquetas de pavo. Our favorite side offerings are the Delmonico potatoes—a classic potato pie served piping hot with a layer of cream and cheddar cheese—along with cornbread dressing studded with butifarra (a traditional Catalan sausage) and confit piquillo peppers.
  • Get a taste of the Deep South at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House (in MGM Grand, 702-891-7374, MGMGrand.com) with a $70 tasting menu. It’s like the chef himself blessed the second course with a “Bam!” of Louisiana baked oysters with hickory smoked bacon, gulf-shrimp and oyster mushroom ragout with smoked fontina cheese and absinthe-spiked Hollandaise. Things get even heavier following a turkey roulade with a fourth course of traditional Belgian carbonnade, or braised beef short ribs served with celery root puree.
  • Should you take Thanksgiving so seriously that nothing less than a buffet will do, round up your fellow pilgrims and land at Bacchanal Buffet. Of the 500 items already available, the carving station should be the first stop so you can build your perfect plate. But who needs turkey when there’s suckling pig, bone-in prime rib, oak-grilled lamb chops and peach wood-smoked brisket? Keep to tradition with such holiday side specials as grilled kabocha squash with candied pepitas, pumpkin spice crème and pomegranate molasses, or salt-baked beet flutes, filled with horseradish goat cheese mousseline and micro herbs. Dishes like these remind us to be thankful that buffets now can be just as elegant as four-course meals.