Julia Child says stuff it, truss it and cook it at 325. So when did Thanksgiving fixings get so darned elaborate? Squanto wouldn't even recognize the meal we sweat over each November. Here are ways to lighten the load: Eat out, grab prepared dishes to reheat at home, and by all means, leave the pies to the experts. Make reservations or place orders ASAP.
All six locations: Ybor City; St. Armands Circle in Sarasota; St. Augustine; the Pier in St. Petersburg; Sand Key in Clearwater Beach; and Celebration; 11 a.m. to close; adults $19.95, children 10 and under $5.95; columbiarestaurant.com. The Columbia Café at the Tampa Bay History Center in Channelside will be closed that day.
The Gonzmart family invites you for a traditional Thanksgiving feast of roast Vermont turkey, Columbia stuffing, fresh vegetables, whipped potatoes, candied yams, cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Dinner also includes a choice of Columbia soups or Caesar salad. Beverages include your choice of coffee, tea or soft drinks.
Renaissance Tampa Hotel's Pelagia Trattoria
4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa; (813) 313-3235 or pelagiatrattoria.com; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Pelagia will offer its regular a la carte menu for Thanksgiving, with the addition of several seasonal specials, such as a cream of acorn squash soup with watercress foam ($6.50), a shrimp and pumpkin risotto ($26), a traditional oven-roasted turkey marinated in apple cider with corn-bread-raisin stuffing ($24) and a pumpkin Bailey's cheesecake with caramel gelato for dessert ($7.50).
Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 894-1000 or marriott.com; 1 to 8 p.m.; adults $48, children 11 and under $16.
Marchand's Bar and Grill sends out a four-course menu for Thanksgiving featuring roasted pumpkin soup, a baby greens salad with spicy pecan goat cheese and entree selections including a smoked beef tenderloin and a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The Vinoy's pastry staff will also offer dessert selections like traditional pumpkin pie with whipped cream and a wackier hazelnut chocolate s'more torte.
Sandpearl Resort's Caretta on the Gulf
500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach; (727) 441-2425 or sandpearl.com. Brunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; adults $49, children ages 3 to 10 $19. Dinner 5 to 9 p.m.; prix fixe menu $55 per person, children ages 3 to 10 $20.
Brunch is a traditional buffet ranging from breakfast items to turkey and its proper accoutrements. The dinner is a plated three-course affair starting with appetizer options lobster and pumpkin bisque, red watercress salad or glazed pork belly; entree options of organic turkey, Hereford Ranch filet mignon, spear-caught Florida grouper or butternut squash pierogis; and dessert selections of spiced pumpkin souffle, apple dumplings or chocolate pecan layer cake.
Spoto's Grill 131
13079 Park Blvd. N, Seminole; (727) 393-1703; 1 to 8 p.m.; adults $18.90, children under 12 $12.90.
The day's featured menu includes soup or salad, turkey with giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, fluffy mashed potatoes, green beans amandine, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie with bourbon whipped cream and coffee or tea. Other menu items available a la carte.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
5223 N Orient Road, Tampa; toll-free 1-866-502-7529.
From 5 p.m. until close, Council Oak offers a deep-fried fresh young turkey with all the trimmings for $34 per person. Reservations strongly suggested. Floyd's is closed, but from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. the Green Room restaurant offers a traditional turkey dinner with country dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce for $26 per person (pumpkin pie cheesecake an additional $6.50); reservations not accepted. And Fresh Harvest restaurant offers a buffet from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with sushi, noodles, dim sum, raw bar items, a grill station and more traditional Thanksgiving fare for $35 per person.
4009 Tampa Road, Oldsmar; (813) 814-7778 or flamestonegrill.com.
Again this year, FlameStone is offering takeout 12-pound rotisserie turkeys slow roasted for up to six hours, enough to feed eight people. It comes with corn bread with candied pecan butter, corn bread stuffing, housemade turkey gravy, rustic cranberry relish, green bean amandine, a choice of mashed sweet potatoes or mashed red-skin double butter potatoes and a choice of Dutch cinnamon apple pie or pumpkin pie with whipped cream, all for $95. All sides are available a la carte, and the restaurant is open Thanksgiving morning for pickup. Order ahead.
16319 Florida Ave., Lutz; (813) 443-5753. Pickup from 9 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving.
A gourmet market featuring freshly prepared entrees, a full sandwich bar and deli, cheeses and wines just celebrated its official grand opening. For Thanksgiving, they are offering cooked turkeys between 10 and 18 pounds for $1.99 per pound, or cooked and sliced turkeys for $5.99 per pound (for Amish turkeys add $3 per pound). In addition, the shop is offering a range of salads, side veggies and condiments (from green bean casserole to baked acorn squash and candied yams) from $3.99 to $6.99 per pound. Apple, pumpkin, pecan and sweet potato pies are offered at $9.99 and $10.99, and complete Thanksgiving dinners are available for $29.99 for two people, $59.99 for four people, $99.99 for six people and $133.99 for eight.
Postcard Inn on the Beach
6300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; (727) 367-2711.
Rooms are available for Thanksgiving at $129 a night for two people and include a family-style Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner with trimmings, two appetizers and a choice of two desserts. For those who would like to bring the entire family, extra meals can be purchased for $19.95 per adult and $12.95 per child. The restaurant is also selling smoked turkeys to go ($35 serves six to eight).
Laura Reiley can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at blogs.tampabay.com/dining.
Wright's Gourmet House
1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 251-5242 or wrightsgourmet.com. Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Wright's Gourmet House is justifiably famous for its pecan pie, ($21.95, with a refundable $5 deposit for the glass dish). No doubt, its flaky crust, deeply toasted pecan flavor and sweet, custardy filling is among the best around. Also at the top of the holiday heap are the pumpkin pie ($16.95, with that $5 deposit) and their decadent pumpkin cake ($32.95). Order in advance, although there will be an array of pies in the case if you just show up.
The Uhurus in St. Petersburg are best known as activists for social justice. But they show their sweet side this time of year when they hold their annual pie sale. You can order sweet potato ($12), apple crumb ($12) and pumpkin ($8) pies now, and they will be ready for pickup in time for Thanksgiving. Order online at uhurupies.org or call (727) 683-9949. E-mail orders are taken at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pies can be picked up Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday; check Web site for pickup locations. For six or more pies, delivery is offered.
9107 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 576-5005 or vicorp.com; 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Their top sellers are apple ($8.99), French silk ($11.99) and pumpkin ($9.99), the big kahuna. They sell so many that some locations station a freezer truck outside, selling the pies right off the truck. They move thousands, which you can order from the Web site or just walk in and get yours topped with fresh whipped cream. Each year the Village Inn sponsors a charity, all leftover pies going there the day after Thanksgiving. Customers can purchase extra pies to donate to this year's charity, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Village Inn also offers a traditional turkey dinner for $10.99.