After more than a year of limited celebrations, diners are eager to spend quality time with loved ones this holiday season. According to a recent survey commissioned by OpenTable, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations and part of Booking Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), half of Americans (50%) would prefer an experience over a gift this holiday season and nearly one third (31%) are looking for unique ways to celebrate. Luckily, OpenTable has a product designed to deliver exactly that: its newly-launched Experiences feature, which allows diners to discover and book special events such as tasting menus, cooking classes and wine tastings. This December, OpenTable Experiences is home to exclusive culinary events across the country, including experiences at some of the most coveted restaurants on the dining scene such as Hearth in New York City, Republique in Los Angeles, Cabra in Chicago, MIDA in Boston and Emmer & Rye in Austin.
OpenTable has curated a list of holiday celebrations as part of its ‘Tis the Season of Experiences campaign, which launched today to answer diners’ desire for presence over presents this holiday season. The list offers experiences to suit every taste and dining occasion, from breakfast with Santa to seasonal wine tastings, sophisticated holiday teas to adventurous tasting menus.
“After a year of learning how to operate in new normals, restaurants are getting more creative than ever, transforming their spaces to offer the ultimate hospitality experience,” said Susan Lee, Chief Growth Officer at OpenTable. “We’re proud to share these amazing holiday events from our restaurant partners to help diners celebrate the holidays.”
“The Feast of the Seven Fishes Experience is a Hearth holiday tradition, and we’ve been serving this beloved Italian-American seafood feast on Christmas Eve for 18 years,” said Marco Canora, Chef and Founder at Hearth. “We always look forward to seeing the families who spend this evening with us every year and all of the new friendly faces, too!”
OpenTable is highlighting festive experiences across multiple categories, including:
‘Tis the season of… themed tasting experiences
- Hearth’s Feast of the Seven Fishes (New York, NY), December 24, 2021: Hearth is bringing back its annual Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, putting a greenmarket twist on the Italian-American tradition. Hearth’s menu relies on local ingredients, and diners can also add an optional wine pairing focused on bottles from Italy’s coastal regions.
- Autumn’s Wild Harvest Omakase at Honey Badger (Brooklyn, NY), Thursdays through Saturdays until December 18, 2021: Get wild in the heart of Brooklyn with this omakase experience composed of ingredients that were caught, foraged, or grown in the Northeast. To add to the ambiance, the meal is served to diners in individual wooden chalets.
- MIDA’s Feast of the Seven Pastas (Boston, MA and Newton, MA), December 23, 2021: Inspired by the traditional Christmas Eve meal, this feast features seven entree pasta dishes including gnocchi cacio e pepe, ricotta gnudi al funghi and paccheri bolognese. Available for dine-in or take out at both locations, the Experience will be available to book on December 10.
- Cafe La Vie’s Van Gogh Dinner (St. Louis, MO), Wednesdays through December 29, 2021: Snag a spot at one of Cafe La Vie’s Van Gogh dinners for an art-inspired evening where each dish is named after and inspired by one of the iconic artist’s paintings, such as the “Lying Cow” with beef short rib, Tuscan kale risotto and tapioca-crusted vidalia onion.
‘Tis the season of… holiday tea
- Holiday Tea at TheGarden Court (San Francisco, CA), Various dates through December 24, 2021: You’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive setting for tea than under the famed stained glass dome of The Garden Court in the Palace Hotel. The tea service is just as opulent, featuring all of the usual trimmings as well as an exclusive Nutcracker tea, boasting a rich aroma and nutty palate.
- Afternoon Tea at Le Cavalier (Wilmington, DE), Fridays through December 17, 2021: Le Cavalier likes to play with the classics, and the restaurant’s winter tea service is no different. Teas blended at a local teahouse are served alongside pastries and Parisian sandwiches, with the ability to add on an a la carte cocktail or glass of natural wine.
‘Tis the season of… breakfast with Santa
- The View at Battery Park (New York, NY), December 11, 2021: This waterfront restaurant is pulling out all of the stops when Santa comes to the Big Apple, offering live music, crafts and even a few gifts. And while the kids are making their Christmas lists, adults can enjoy dishes such as braised short ribs and a bloody mary.
- Breakfast with Santa at The Chocolatier (Hershey, PA), Friday – Sunday through December 24, 2021: Breakfast with Santa is sure to be sweet when it’s hosted by The Chocolatier, a restaurant attached to the candy-themed Hershey Park. The buffet breakfast offers savory options and a dizzying array of chocolate toppings for pancakes and French toast.
‘Tis the season of… decadent New Year’s Eve celebrations
- New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu at Republique (Los Angeles, CA), December 31, 2021: Indulge with a gastronomic experience imbued with history and grandeur (Republique was originally erected in 1929 by Charlie Chaplin and later transformed into the iconic La Brea Bakery) with a highly seasonal and locally sourced multi-course tasting menu. The Experience is available in two seatings.
- New Year’s Eve Dinner on the Rooftop at Cabra (Chicago, IL), December 31, 2021: Ring in 2022 with a lively dining experience featuring a Peruvian-inspired pre-fixe dinner, specialty cocktails and a champagne toast, with stunning views of Chicago as the backdrop.
- New Year’s Eve at Emmer & Rye (Austin, TX), December 31, 2021: Emmer & Rye will host a 10 course pre-fixe menu to ring in the New Year in style. The special menu will feature dishes including: Red Snapper with Pickled Beet, Caramelized Fennel, Charcoal Oil; Dry Aged Wagyu Beef Tartare with Shallot, Kimchi, Smoked Egg Yolk, Beef Tallow, Potato Chip; and Burnt Edge Lasagna with Eggplant, Garlic, Tomato, Veloute Foam.
To learn more about the ‘Tis the Season of Experiences campaign and get inspiration for holiday celebrations, visit https://blog.opentable.com/best-holiday-restaurants-experiences-2021. To see the full list of experiences near you, visit your local experiences hub and be sure to check local public health guidelines and communications about COVID-19.
READ MORE: Wonder why everything Korean is trending? Kimchi is one major reason