This is that most wonderful time of the year… if you love cooking. When friends and family descend on your home, they usually want to be fed, and be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, everyone has their favorite dish they’re hoping you’ll prepare. So this year, roll out an entire menu. And yes, you can, because even if slaving behind a stove isn’t your thing, any number of top local chefs will happily do it for you.
Santé Restaurant at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, 707-939-2415, fairmont.com.
Just the name inspires: Christmas Grand Buffet, and it indeed is grand, offering 40+ appetizers including housemade pâté de campagne, seafood terrine, caviar and blinis. Executive chef Bruno Tison also sends out tempting classics like Shrimp Louis, roast goose, Niman Ranch Prime rib, and veal sweet breads in ivory sauce and black truffles. Dessert is a particular highlight, in two dozen delights like Bûche de Noël, Opera cake, and espresso-cardamom pot de crème.
Details: From 2 to 8 p.m.; $95 per person, $47.50 for children 5-12 years, complimentary for children 4-and-under.
Dickens Dinner at Madrona Manor
1001 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, 707-433-4231, madronamanor.com.
The supper is a decades-long tradition for this Wine Country destination, and on and on Christmas Day, there is a special matinee meal, too. The storybook holiday starts at the front door of the Michelin-star resort, which is a historic 1881 Victorian mansion lavishly bedecked with 4,000 twinkling lights on a 14-foot tall Christmas tree. Inside brim wreaths, garlands, fresh flowers, toys and ornaments, capped off with carolers wandering the grounds, dressed in period clothing. Then, it’s on to the feast, where executive chef Jesse Mallgren’s presents a five-course menu of dishes like petite lobster Shepherd’s pie, beef Wellington, and Christmas pudding.
Details: Seating at 6:30 p.m. or a 1:30 p.m. matinee; $85 to $125 per person.
Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar
1325 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-931-2024, thelodgeatsonoma.com.
Chef de Cuisine Andrew Wilson offers a 3-course a la carte Christmas dinner featuring coffee crusted fillet beef, roasted ham, Liberty Farm duck or seabass with Portuguese-style shellfish stew. Be sure to add a Christmas wine flight including the I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas Flight; the Three Pinot Kings of Christmas; or the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Vertical Flight.
Details: From 2 to 8 p.m.; prices vary.
Baker & Banker
1701 Octavia St., San Francisco, 415-351-2500, bakerandbanker.com.
Enjoy a salute to Hanukkah with a four-course menu dedicated to Jewish dishes such as chicken soup, trout latke, brisket and apple cake. The menu runs December 20-28 and is inspired by chef Jeff Banker’s childhood and the recipes his mother used to cook for the holidays.
Details: From $65.
Pier 5, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415-839-2134, lafittesf.com.
The four-course $89 menu celebrates savory style with oxtail or seasonal mushroom consume; ravioli of parsnip, rye raisins and chicories; a choice of roast duck, red rice and olives, or truffle and veal stuffed suckling with creme onion soubise and boxty, or chile roast crab in the bag; and dessert of bouche noel, almond-persimmon ice cream sandwiches or double chocolate peppermint cookie crunch.
Tip: Leave the reindeer at home, and reserve a stylish holiday sleigh with a Pure Luxury limousine or Town Car.