NYC’s Best Christmas Eve Restaurants Featuring Feast of Seven Fishes
These days even the most Christmas-celebrating families are taking advantage of that great NYC ritual of gorging on Chinese food and seeing a movie on Christmas night. You've been entertaining for days (or weeks!), all the presents are opened, you just feel like doing something simple. Seriously: the theaters are all packed that night, with almost everything selling out, so make sure to get your tickets in advance. So that's Christmas dinner… but what about Christmas Eve? Although we usually do a family meal at home that night, now that my children are young adults I've been more tempted than ever to go out for a proper Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. If you feel the same (for whatever reason) here are a few spots around town serving what are likely to be excellent versions of that traditional Italian-American holiday meal.
Lincoln Ristorante, Upper West Side
One of the Upper West Side's best restaurants (and certainly among its most fancy), chef Jonathan Benno's Lincoln Restaurant will not only be a pretty and special-feeling place to spend your Christmas Eve, it will also almost certainly be delicious. And at the relatively bargain price of $95 per person (though wine pairings will tack on an additional $75), you get six courses, including a Smoked Eel and Foie Gras Terrine, Lobster-Scallop filled Squid Ink Pasta, and Turbot with Lentils and Black Truffles. Note: you can get this special menu any night between December 16 and 24.
Hearth, East Village
Chef Marco Canora is also doing a Feast of Seven fishes at his wonderful Tuscan-American Hearth restaurant, but unlike Benno above, you can only get this meal on Christmas Eve, so make reservations right this second. Hearth is charging $96 per person for its four course (plus amuse and dessert) spectacular (wine parings are an additional $54), a meal that includes Ceci Bean Soup with prawns, Linguini con Vongole (which are those tiny baby clams served in the shell), and Gingerbread Cake with roasted apples, toffee sauce, and egg nog gelato.
Aquavit, Midtown East
Just to mix things up a bit, consider the Julbord at the acclaimed Aquavit, a traditional Swedish holiday smorgasbord that features an astonishing array of delights. There are nine different types of herring, for example (pickled, mustard, lemon, lingonberry, etc.); schools of swimmers from Black Currant Cured Cod to Hot Smoked Trout to Dry Cured Gravlax; meats both cold (Christmas Ham, Cured Venison, for example) and hot (Lamb Roast, Swedish Meatballs, Christmas Sausage, among many others); and a full sixteen choices for dessert (I'll have the Eggnog Panna Cotta, a few Coconut Financiers, and a big helping of Kladdkaka, the Swedish sticky chocolate cake). Cost is $95 per person for as much as you want to eat, and although you can get it for lunch on both December 12 and 19, the Julbord is only set out for dinner on the 24th.
The first-rate and always-lively neighborhood Italian spot Vic's (formerly Five Points, from the team that also runs Rosie's, Cookshop, and Hundred Acres) is doing a five-course Feast of Seven Fishes, on Christmas Eve only, for $70 a person. The menu hasn't yet been finalized, but judging from the chef Hillary Sterling's love of bold flavors and commitment to market-fresh ingredients (not to mention her considerable skills in the kitchen), this seems like a good bet, even sight unseen.
The Clam, West Village
Finally, Chef Mike Price is throwing a Seven Fishes party on Christmas Eve at his casual, happening Hudson Street restaurant, The Clam. Four courses plus dessert will set you back $90 a person, and choices include Venetian Seafood Salad (with calamari, shrimp, octopus, scallops… that's four fishes right there!), Lobster Chowder, Baked Clams (of course), and 86 Proof Chocolate Ice Box Cake.