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Thanksgiving in London

Thanksgiving in London, originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

For the first time in three years, Mr. Crab was actually home for Thanksgiving and not traipsing around the world as usual in South America or Baghdad. I had neither the time nor the energy to cook a real turkey dinner, so we decided to go out for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, many London restaurants now host traditional Thanksgiving dinners to cater to the 50,000+ American expats in London. Some places, like Bodean's, even show NFL games. Unfortunately, we waited until the last minute. Practically every place in London was sold out. That's how we ended up at the Chicago Rib Shack last night.

Chicago Rib Shack (CRS) is located in West London in the posh Kensington neighborhood, around the corner from the famous Harrod's department store. When we got there, we were surprised to find the place decked out in all things Americana. The basement of the restaurant was covered in American flags and streamers and all guests were given a little vinyl American flag upon arrival. The stereo was BLARING American rock & pop music plus theme songs from American shows like "The A-Team" and "Magnum P.I."! Apparently, the British managers of the restaurant thought Thanksgiving was some sort of patriotic holiday like the Fourth of July. Oh well. Kudos to them for trying!

We were joined at dinner by one of Mrs. Crab's British coworkers, and we spent the evening giving her a crash course in Thanksgiving 101. The set meal dinner included a so-so hunk (not slices) of turkey wrapped in bacon, delicious stuffing, yummy honey glazed carrots, so-so garlic mash potatoes, broccoli and green beans, roast potatoes, cranberry "salsa" and for desert, one of the best pumpkin pies I've ever tasted. (Our British friend, who had never tasted pumpkin pie before, took one bite, described it "interesting," then pushed away the plate!) The CRS has an extensive menu of American beers including Anchor Steam, Brooklyn Lager and Goose Island IPA. Overall, I give the food 3 out of 5 stars.

The restaurant was packed with Yanks, some (ok, us too) singing along to the cheezy songs like Bonnie Tyler's "Holding out for a Hero" We finally had to explain to our kindly Brazillian waitress that, no, Thanksgiving does not normally involve blaring rock music in the middle of dinner that was so loud it was impossible to hold a conversation. Afterwards, maybe, but not during dinner! At least not any Thanksgiving I remember! I thought she would be offended, but she was so sweet she turned it lower and even changed the CD and put on a bit of Christmas music. So big points for customer service.

Overall, I don't think I'd eat out for Thanksgiving again. Next year, if we're still here, I intend to host & cook a proper American Thanksgiving dinner party. RSVP now!