An Afton House Thanksgiving

Giving thanks for extra yams.

To succeed at Thanksgiving means throwing 10 turkeys into the air and catching all of them at once. There’s the cooking turkey, the cleaning turkey, the “I hope my home is big enough for everyone” turkey, and the trickiest turkey of all—your opinionated Aunt Ruth. The Afton House Inn has the solution for diners who suffer feast anxiety: Thanksgiving buffet, served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 23. Co-owner Dan Jarvis supervises the scene, serving up all the classic recipes and more.

Choose from the classic herb-roasted turkey with gravy, seared pork loin with Honeycrisp apple sauce, sliced honey and clove-baked ham, slow-cooked beef with Marsala mushroom sauce, crispy fried Minnesota sunfish and fresh Atlantic salmon with coarse-grain mustard aioli. To spend all of this feast filling up on turkey would keep with tradition, but who says “no” to fresh salmon or pot roast?

Filling up on meat alone would be a fallacious feasting faux pas. The folks at Afton House Inn know sides do matter, and chef Ryan Kaliher hopes you come prepared to dive in to homemade Minnesota wild-rice pilaf, and a chestnut sage dressing that offers up the perfect amount of spice. Here’s to hoping you’ve been practicing your drizzle game, because the smashed skin-on red potatoes will feel left at sea without their gravy boat of creamy goodness.

Jarvis encourages leaving extra room for his favorite recipe, butternut squash and yam gratin. Cooked with plenty of brown sugar and cream, this masterpiece “is like eating dessert.” It’s like pie, but with extra Vitamin A.

For the Thanksgiving elite who remembered to save room for dessert, the buffet has saved its sweetest surprises for last. Treat yourself with a slice of chocolate or carrot cake, or a piece of warm cobbler. (Fear not, there’s also a place at the table for pie for those who keep tradition, with a slice of  pecan or pumpkin.) For the hosts of the family, take an extra moment at the end of your meal to appreciate the true blessings of an Afton House Thanksgiving: the blessing of being unburdened from cleaning a single dish or glass. The affable crew of The Afton House Inn has you covered. (Buffet prices: $27 adults, $15 children 3–10, $9 tots 2 and younger. Plan an 18 percent gratuity on groups of eight or more.)

In addition to keeping the tradition of welcoming loved ones from near and far into their homes for a meal, many Americans also celebrate by welcoming a few other reliable visitors. That’s right, the annual NFL matchups featuring the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are a great way to bring the family together, and quickly divide them before serving the unifying feast to heal all hurt feelings. But the best part about Thanksgiving game day? Folks need not leave their homes to participate.

For those who would prefer to spend the day enjoying football and family time at home rather than trying to put out another grease fire, Jarvis recommends opting in for an Afton House feast to go. “Customers will order one of our Thanksgiving packages and feel like a hero” bringing the feast home to share, he says. For families expecting four to six guests, Package 1 includes 5 lbs. of sliced turkey, 2 lbs. of mashed potatoes, 2 lbs. of stuffing, 1 lb. of sweet potatoes, 1.5 lbs. green bean almondine, 8 oz. cranberries, 1 pint of gravy, 10 dinner rolls and your choice of one pecan, pumpkin or Dutch apple pie ($98).

For the family of 10–12, Package 2 includes a 10–12 lb. whole turkey, 4 lbs. mashed potatoes, 4 lbs. stuffing, 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, 3 lbs. green bean almondine, 1 lb. cranberries, 1 quart gravy, 18 dinner rolls and your choice of two pies ($179). Last year’s order topped 100 take-home dinners, so call ahead to guarantee your Thanksgiving meal. 


Main Street in Stillwater is a notorious summer hotspot. Consider yourself lucky if you find a spot on the drag, let alone a metered stall by the river. Locals breathe a collective sigh of relief as the weather turns to autumn. But should your patio lounging and socializing suffer due to a drop in temperature? Lion’s Tavern general manager Daved Najarian thinks not.   

Najarian is thrilled to unveil the seasonal cocktail menu, which boasts nine new creations, and wants the St. Croix community to know that the Lion’s Tavern patio will have the outdoor fireplace operating until the bitter cold forces such fellowship indoors. Najarian is hard at work with bar manager Ryan Wood and bartender Chase Bowersox, who are constantly crafting new and improved recipes to carry St. Croix tastemakers through the coldest months of the holiday season. What will they come up with next? The Bordeaux and Brandy is new this year, and Najarian is excited to share the recipe:

2 Bordeaux cherries
1 orange slice
1 lemon slice
½ oz. simple syrup
(substitute 1 tsp. sugar)
Clove bitters (substitute
a pinch of ground cloves)
2½ oz. Laird’s Apple
Jack brandy
1 oz. Bordeaux red wine
(substitute any
blended red)

Begin by muddling the cherries, adding the lemon and orange slices. Muddle all three with simple syrup or sugar. Add a dash of clove bitters, and mix into a lowball glass with ice. Pour the Laird’s Apple Jack brandy and Bordeaux over the entire mixture, and stir to integrate.

Savor each sip with the mixologist satisfaction of bringing together two flavors that work better together than they do apart.