East Village, With All the Trimmings

FxCam_1289336440232Timothy Krause

They say there is a chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy.

Now, it’s safe to say no scientific institution or study has actually proven this information. The truthiness of this bit of knowledge goes unquestioned because on every Thanksgiving day the fact is loudly announced by the obligatory young and obnoxious cousin/child of a neighbor/stranger’s nephew to a room full of people who are wiping gravy sweat from their brows. Often, it’s the last thing many people hear before drifting off into a tortured, caloric slumber.

It is for this reason alone that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be celebrated at home. Since our fair collection of loud and populated street corners means this city never sleeps, we certainly can’t be sleeping on Nov. 25 ; we have things to do. Funkmaster Flex and Swizz Beatz will be at Webster Hall, and after that it’s straight to Union Square to stand in the line at Best Buy. If we sleep, someone will steal our spot.

However, some East Village residents who actually admit to having a family – and maybe, god forbid, a life before their days of wearing a leather jacket – do get nostalgic for sweet potatoes and gizzards. Luckily, a few restaurants are providing prix fixe menus for gobblers of gravy and gratin. And, thank your holy fowls, it’s all the same delicious East Village food at the same reasonable prices.

Maybe the best meal deal is at Westville East, the outpost for fresh veggies and succulent meats on 11th Street and Avenue A. For $35 eaters choose between grilled corn, salad and soup for appetizer, turkey or ham for entree, and a choice of two of their famous veggie sides: collard greens, green beans with almonds, grilled asparagus, and beets. Everything comes with cornbread, cranberry sauce and stuffing, which, really, they should be spooning that out for free for five days before T-Day to get us all in shape. There are also three pies to choose from for dessert, the rumor being that one of them is their signature pumpkin whoopee pie.

Back Forty on Avenue B is known for their rustic dishes and decor that so perfectly matches a cinnamon apple-scented Glade candle. Their Thanksgiving Day feast includes heritage turkey with chestnut turkey sausage stuffing and choice of “holiday appropriate” sides (crossing our fingers that cranberry sauce doesn’t count as a “side”). Dinner lasts from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and though the portions may not be king-sized – considering Back Forty has a strange definition of the word “stack” in relation to pancakes and because they are charging the very reasonable price of $50 per person – the bird is bound to be fresh and the cocktails spicy. Plus, there’s always Eleven B’s pizza stand around the corner for dessert.

Though this restaurant should be closed on Thanksgiving and all its employees should be forced to sit in the dark and think about the pain they’ve caused to innocent carnivores everywhere, dinner at the vegetarian restaurant Angelica Kitchen has five light-in-oil courses for their feast. Celery root bisque with roasted apple croutons seems to be the best choice for appetizer (the alternative is, um, mushroom broth), but decision-making will be nearly impossible for dessert; poached pear in warm cranberry caramel sauce with cardamom custard and hazelnut brittle is just one option, or perhaps you’d prefer a slice of pumpkin pie crowned in allspice cream, or a chocolate truffle tart with pistachio crust, vanilla bean cream and black cherry coulis?

Though the main event may sound inedible (heirloom bean tamales or fake meat wrapped in an “herbed phyllo pastry crust,” followed by gas and unhappiness), who gives a tofu when there are unlimited amounts of tea, chai, and spiced almond milk (whatever that is, it sounds good) included in the $55 meal. Parties have a limited eating time at Angelica because there are actually many, many vegeturkians in the East Village that stay true to this fad on T-Day, so ask the hostess how much time you have to digest each course because you might need to employ stomach stretches to fit it all in. (Also, Angelica will give away your table unless you call to confirm your reservation by 5 p.m. today.)

Well that was fun, reading about real food, but for those of us who actually need to eat on Turkey Day, greasy favorites like 7A Cafe offer prix fixe menus on the cheap. For under $30 you’ll get some leftovers and all the corn bread that the one cook scheduled that day can put out.

And the best part about Thanksgiving in the East Village? Besides the fact that you’re not eating with your (ugh) family, getting a perfectly spiced and carefully crafted reasonably priced meal, you are miles and miles away from that damn parade. Happy Holidays!

This post has been changed to correct an error; an earlier version misstated the hours of operation for The Life Café.