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Finding the hearths

If you're not going home for the holidays but crave an affordable home-cooked meal, check out these seven cozy local restaurants.

One day out of the year, we get together with people we love, share a meal and give thanks. But as students, not all of us can go home to our families for Thanksgiving. I set out on a mission: to find local restaurants open on Thanksgiving with great meals under $25. The catch? Each restaurant must have a fireplace, just like home. Home might not always be where your family is, but the hearth may just remind you of where you’re from.

Brae Loch Inn, 5 Albany St., Cazenovia, N.Y. 

(315) 655-3431,
Thanksgiving Hours: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

As soon as you enter Brae Loch, you feel its coziness and warmth. The Brae Loch is a large estate situated just down the street from Cazenovia Lake. Its Thanksgiving buffet is $23.95 (excluding drinks) and features a carving station of turkey, ham and roast beef, and sides such as mashed potatoes, butternut squash, stuffing and candied yams. If you don’t want turkey on Turkey Day, don’t fret. Brae Loch also offers dishes such as herb-roasted chicken, seafood Newburg with wild rice and stuffed manicotti primavera. And save room for dessert, as there are assorted pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies.

The inn was built in 1805 and originally served as the Barr family estate. Current innkeeper Jim Barr inherited the business from his father in 1986 and has tried to keep up the inn's heritage: the waitresses still dress up in Scottish kilts. There are 14 fireplaces spread throughout the inn, with 6 of them scattered in the dining rooms, upstairs and down. Sitting lounges, with comfy plush chairs and fireplaces, are perfect for a before or after-dinner drink. Make reservations, as Barr said he expects around 450 to 500 people this Thanksgiving. 

The Brewster Inn, 6 Ledyard Ave., Cazenovia, N.Y.

(315) 655-9232,
Thanksgiving Hours: 12 p.m. 8 p.m. with seatings at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.

This large brown mansion sits on the shore of beautiful Cazenovia Lake, . There are a few options to choose from for Thanksgiving. You can order a traditional meal with turkey, herbed stuffing, Chantilly potatoes, roasted acorn squash, creamed pearl onions, fall relish and giblet gravy for $26, or choose a moderately priced dish like butternut squash ravioli with brown sage butter, Parmesan cheese and truffles, and beef ragout pappardelle with hand-cut pasta and Parmesan cheese. All entrees on the Thanksgiving menu come with a house salad, or you can upgrade to other salads on the menu such as Maytag Bleu Cheese with wild greens, red grapes, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette, or Fall Harvest salad with Cougar Gold cheese, walnuts, crispy onions and cider reduction.

Manager Iris Fitch recommends that budget-minded diners get an appetizer such as the butternut squash bisque with shrimp for $9, Thai calamari with spinach and lemon beurre blanc for $12 and a salad. If you have a group of 8 or 10 friends, consider The Brewster Inn’s Thanksgiving takeout. For $125, you get a dinner that includes roasted turkey, Brewster Chantilly potatoes, homemade stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, choice of two vegetables and two loaves of stretch bread. The Inn features gas fireplaces in both function rooms, and the building dates back to 1890. If you walk to the back of the restaurant you can take in the views of the lake.

Glen Loch Restaurant, 4626 North St., Jamesville, N.Y. 

(315) 469-6969,
Thanksgiving Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“No one cares as much as family,” says Callie Barr, niece of Brae Loch Inn owner Jim Barr and proprietor of the Glen Loch. Callie represents the fourth generation of Barr family running the restaurant and dinner theater, according to its website. Like the Brae Loch Inn, The Glen Loch will have a Thanksgiving buffet for $23.95, excluding drinks. Callie said popular buffet offerings include carved roast Vermont tom turkey, old-fashioned turkey stuffing, sweet potatoes, assorted breads and desserts from the dessert table. She expects around 450 people that day, so if you want in, definitely try to make a reservation. The Glen Loch has two gas fireplaces, one in the banquet room and one in the lounge. They also accept the off-campus meal plan.

Lincklaen House, 79 Albany St., Cazenovia, N.Y. 

(315) 655-3461,
Thanksgiving Hours: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Lincklaen House is of Dutch origin and dates back to 1835: with its high ceilings, big round tables and spacious dining rooms, it has a very regal, elegant feel. The Thanksgiving buffet costs $20, excluding drinks. Popular items on the buffet include seafood bisque, Buffalo dip (a spicy Buffalo chicken dip), carved turkey with gravy, maple glazed ham and cracker-encrusted haddock. For dessert, manager Carrie Taylor recommends pecan pie, pumpkin pie or apple crisp, the signature dessert. Taylor says the Lincklaen House employees act like one big family, so if you go there on Thanksgiving, you will more than likely be a part of the family for the evening.

Morgan’s of Syracuse, 329 Fay Rd., Syracuse, N.Y.

(315) 468-2113,
Thanksgiving Hours: 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Open since 1984, this restaurant and tavern has two fireplaces in the dining room. Its Thanksgiving menu is extensive, starting out with a choice of fresh fruit cup, garden salad or butternut bisque soup, which hostess Cindy Smolen says is “to die for!” For an entrée, choose from offerings such as the fresh-roasted turkey dinner with all the trimmings for $17.95, pork Normandy (a roasted loin of pork with pecans, apples and an applejack brandy sauce) for $19.95 and the veal Florentine (medallions of veal sautéed with spinach, mushrooms and a gorgonzola cheese sauce with seasoned breadcrumbs) for $23.95.  

Saratoga Steaks & Seafood On the Green, 200 Waring Rd. Syracuse, N.Y. 

(315) 445-1976
Thanksgiving Hours: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This 23-year-old restaurant has lived through several changes over the years. The original building, said manager Pat Kraus, opened in the 1920s as a horse barn. Then it was the home of several restaurants, including Dafney’s. One thing that’s always stayed the same? The fireplaces. At Saratoga Steaks & Seafood, you will find three. A gas-burning fireplace is located in the lounge and another is in a banquet room in the back of the restaurant, which serves up to 38 people for parties and events. The biggest one is right in the middle of the main dining room, and it’s an open, wood-burning fireplace. Kraus says she gets phone calls requesting to sit by the fire. For Thanksgiving, the $18 all-you-can-eat turkey dinner buffet includes dessert. You can also get the plated traditional turkey dinner for $18, which includes apple sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce and gravy. Drinks are extra. 

The Sherwood Inn, 26 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, N.Y. 

(315) 685-3405,
Thanksgiving Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A royal blue inn sitting near the picturesque Skaneateles Lake, The Sherwood Inn “lends itself to the holidays,” says General Manager Michael Tutor. Their house is open to you during the holiday season, with a Thanksgiving dinner for $26. For your first course, choose from potato leek soup garnished with chopped chives, or the Harvest House Salad. For your entrée, eat the traditional roasted Thanksgiving turkey with apple and sausage stuffing, whipped potatoes, maple glazed yams, butternut squash, green bean casserole, family-style vegetables and cranberry pear chutney. And to finish off the night, choose from pumpkin pie, apple pie or pecan tart and a choice of coffee or tea. Also, if you’re looking to have a bottle of wine there that evening, you will receive 25% off. There are many fireplaces throughout the Inn, but four are on the main floor. Tutor says the inn gets many requests for fireside seats.

Delivery Service

Do you know of any establishment that will deliver a Thanksgiving meal to the dorms at Syracuse University? My daughter is going to be there alone and does not have any transportation. :(

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