Christmas Eve New Years Eve dinner

A number of local restaurants are offering Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve specials for dinner.

Who’s excited for 2020 to be over? I am, I am!

Please, no repeat of 2020! Isolation, quarantines, e-learning, toilet paper shortage (who saw that coming!) Not to mention the hit that restaurants have taken this year! My wish for the New Year — no more COVID, for everyone to be healthy and we can all get back to everyday life.

This year Dave and I will say good-riddance to 2020 and look forward to health and happiness in 2021. Where are we heading – The Longbranch, of course! It’s been New Year’s tradition for us for many years. We enjoy the food, the ambiance and we love the owners, Chefs Nick and Lindsay Bohn.

The Longbranch

They will be open on New Year’s Eve with Nick and Lindsay’s fabulous menu.

“We aren’t going to be seeing our normal New Year this year,” stated Chef Lindsay. “But what we do have to offer is going to be amazing!”

Come celebrate the evening by starting with their Bang Bang shrimp tossed in Bang Bang sauce. Also, pan-fried frog legs, cajun or regular with drawn butter and finally, fried calamari with sweet chili and marinara dipping sauce.

Chefs Nick and Lindsay have some delicious entrees on their menu — an 8-ounce fire-grilled filet mignon, a 14-ounce succulent rib-eye steak or a beautiful 12-ounce prime rib in Au Jus with horseradish cream sauce — delicious!

One of my favorites is their succulent bacon Gorgonzola pork chops, grilled then topped with their cream bacon gorgonzola butter, or a bone-in pork chop topped with apple bacon onion jam, excellent.

On the seafood side, they’ll serve citrus-glazed grilled salmon. I’ve had this, and it’s absolutely fantastic. There’s also baked garlic butter cod or drunken jumbo shrimp with hot or cold with cocktail sauce or drawn butter. Guests can also have their house dredged jumbo fried shrimp.

A little Italian pasta on a cold winter’s night is an excellent choice — try their rigatoni tossed in ratatouille pasta sauce with house-made Italian sausage, or another one of my favorites, the lobster ravioli with fresh asparagus tossed in lobster cream sauce.

All entrees are served with a choice of side and soup or side salad.

Save room for dessert, or as Chef Lindsay says, take it home and eat it next year!

I love the mixed berry bread pudding with sugar cookie crumble topped with fresh mixed berry sauce. I can’t remember a New Year’s Eve that Dave hasn’t ordered one of Chef’s dynamite chocolate cakes. This year he’ll be treated to a chocolate cake with ganache and caramel sauce. The chefs have a beautiful oatmeal raisin cookie cheesecake with crème drizzle and crumbled cookie pieces. Delightful!

We have never left The Longbranch without having their out-of-this-world ice cream drinks — Brandy Alexander is my favorite.

We can all agree that 2020 was not a great year. Serving soup on New Year’s Day has been a Longbranch tradition for 20 years. So make sure to stop in on New Year’s Day for a complimentary bowl of black-eyed pea soup to ring in good fortune for 2021. Let’s hope for a prosperous, healthy year.

The kitchen will be closed on New Year’s Day; dinner will be served from 4 to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

Reservations are highly recommended. As a matter of fact, mine was made two weeks ago!

The Longbranch is one of my favorite restaurants that offers the luxury of elegant entrees without traveling north to the city. The food is fantastic, the ambiance is comfortable and the service is dynamite. Chefs Nick and Lindsay Bohn never disappoint their guests.

The Longbranch is located at 2713 N. 1500 East Road, Clifton. Check out their Facebook page or call 815-694-9748.

Anthony’s Pizzeria and Family Restaurant and Pub

Located in Manteno, Anthony’s Pizzeria will be open on New Year’s Eve and serving an incredible special.

This year’s special will be a steak medallion trio with lobster tail, soup or salad, vegetables and potato choice. Dining begins at 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

Anthony’s is located at 63 N. Main St., Manteno. Don’t forget to follow Anthony’s Pizzeria and Family Restaurant and Pub on Facebook. Call 815-468-3484.

Tom’s Tavern and Restaurant

Head to Kempton to get a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at Tom’s Tavern and Restaurant.

Owner Tom Petrose wants his guests to have the same quality buffet that is typically served in house but to enjoy in their home. This is a pickup, carry-out only special on Thursday, Dec. 24.

On the menu — sliced ham off the bone, two pieces of fried fish, their famous fried chicken, baked mostaccioli with garlic toast, sliced roast pork loin over homemade stuffing and real mashed potatoes, corn casserole and a large side salad, macaroni salad or potato salad — all homemade.

The price is reasonable at $14.95 per person. The kids will have their own menu: option one is sliced pork, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Option two is fried chicken, mostaccioli and garlic bread. Kids meals are for ages six and under and are $5.99.

This is a reservation-only event with pickup from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please pre-pay by card when calling for your reservation. There will be a $2 surcharge for credit and debit cards. Cash is always welcome!

Check out Tom’s Tavern’s Facebook page for more information on the dinners.

Tom’s Tavern is located at 221 Main St., Kempton. To make reservations, call 815-253-6407.

The Bennett-Curtis House

Don’t forget the Holiday at Hogwarts event happening at The Bennett-Curtis House through the holidays. New this holiday season — Escape from Azkaban! Who doesn’t love Harry?

The Bennett-Curtis House will continue with its heat and serve holiday dinners. Guests will choose from turkey, ham and smoked pork loin for entrees, each with four different side dishes and a whole pie or bread pudding. You can order your dinner online and pick-up; how easy is that?

This event will be available for pickup the month of December, while supplies last. Orders require 72-hours notice. Payment required at time of order.

Reservations are required by calling 815-465-2288.

For more information, visit The Bennett-Curtis House is located at 302 W. Taylor St., Grant Park.