Whether you celebrate with three people or 30, Friendsgiving reminds us that it’s important to enjoy each other

Paseo Grill’s curtained tables and back room offer parties of all sizes a place to find a little privacy. | Photo Gazette / file

Paseo Grill’s curtained tables and back room offer parties of all sizes a place to find a little privacy. | Photo Gazette / file

Friendsgiving shouldn’t be a lot of work. There shouldn’t be so much cooking and cleaning before everyone arrives that it becomes difficult to enjoy the meal and the company. That’s just not what Friendsgiving is about.

Broadway 10 Bar & Chophouse co-owner Aaron Soward said he loves hosting at his home, though there can be drawbacks.

“I love cooking. We do it at my house every year,” Soward said. “And I love that my family can be relaxed and enjoy it.”

What he doesn’t love is he and his wife being relegated to the kitchen before and after the meal while everyone else enjoys quality time. The same is true for Friendsgiving parties, but staff at Broadway 10 Bar & Chophouse, 1101 N. Broadway Ave., help make holiday gatherings easier for everyone by putting together group meals they can serve to people on the go.

“It’s something we could even deliver,” Soward said.

Customers can put the responsibility of making sure everything is cooked correctly and tastes great on the capable shoulders of his kitchen staff.

“You’re getting a product that is failproof. It takes all the doubt out of it,” Soward said.

Kitchen escape

Stella Modern Italian Cuisine sous chef and assistant manager Melissa Aust said personalization is one reason people choose her restaurant for dinner parties during the holidays.

The Midtown District Italian restaurant, 1201 N. Walker Ave., is a favorite for Friendsgiving groups, Aust said, because the chefs are so eager to work with customers.

“Depending on the size of the party, we can do a limited menu, where people can choose from four entrees, soup or salad and two desserts, or we can have a buffet-style service,” she said.

Stella’s largest room can hold about 50 while the second-largest can serve up to 28, she said. Of course, dinner parties don’t have to be huge to be fun. Inside Paseo Grill, 2909 Paseo Drive, there are options for private and semiprivate spaces, said co-owner Lesley Rawlinson. It also runs The Reserve, a full-service dining room across the street from the restaurant for groups of up to 50 guests.

For smaller parties, there are easily curtained-off areas to keep dinner feeling more intimate. Small groups get access to the full menu, while Rawlinson suggests a pre-set menu for bigger gatherings.

“The execution is a little easier that way,” Rawlinson said. “It takes a little more thinking out of it.”

Mixing menus

Friendsgiving celebrations often follow the traditional Thanksgiving menu with turkey, ham and green bean casserole, but why limit a dinner party to one type of cuisine?

One of the city’s most interesting private dining spaces is the giant round table at Sushi Neko, 4318 N. Western Ave. Guests remove their shoes and sit on mats before sharing plates of sashimi and maki rolls.

Few places in the metro can match James E. McNellie’s Public House, 1100 Classen Drive, for beer selection and space. The three-story restaurant serves Irish pub fare in a laid-back environment that is equally friendly to the wallet and taste buds.

Wherever they choose to go, Aaron Soward said the best treat for hosts who take their celebrations to a restaurant isn’t the gourmet food or selection of cocktails. It’s that they don’t have to clean up when the party is over.

“Nobody likes being stuck cleaning up,” he said.

 

Dinner party destinations

Sometimes, home isn’t the best place for a dinner party. Whether due to a lack of space, time or culinary acumen, many prefer to host their gatherings at restaurants, where they can mingle with friends while chefs and servers handle the details. Here are a few suggestions:

Broadway 10 Bar & Chophouse

1101 N. Broadway Ave.

broadway10okc.com

405-212-3949

Hefner Grill

9201 Lake Hefner Parkway

hefnergrill.com

405-748-6113

J. Bruner’s at The Haunted House

7101 Miramar Blvd.

jbruners.com/haunted-house

405-478-1417

James E. McNellie’s Public House

1100 Classen Drive

mcnelliesokc.com

405-601-7468

The Meat Market Refectory

2920 NW 63rd St.

meatmarketrefectory.com

405-608-8866

Paseo Grill

2909 Paseo Drive, Suite A

paseogrill.com

405-601-1079

Red PrimeSteak

504 N. Broadway Ave.

redprimesteak.com

405-232-2626

Stella Modern Italian Cuisine

1201 N. Walker Ave.

stella-okc.com

405-235-2200

Sushi Neko

4318 N. Western Ave.

sushineko.com

405-528-8862

 

Print Headline: Buddy love: Friendsgiving is about losing the traditions that don’t work and celebrating new ones that do. Whether you celebrate with three people or 30, it’s important to focus on enjoying each other.

Greg is the Gazette's full-time food writer and reviewer. He goes to restaurants a lot. He orders three entrees and gets funny looks and then takes out his camera and people are like, "Ugh. This guy." Greg is writing this right now and it feels weird to keep referring to myself in the third person. On Twitter and Instagram: @Elwelleats

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