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So you burnt the turkey...

Sometimes Thanksgiving dinners don’t work out the way you planned -- you burn the turkey, the power goes out mid-cooking, the dog jumps up and knocks the entire untouched spread off of the table, you serve dinner 9 hours late. Okay, maybe the last one was just me.

The first (and only) time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I ended up serving an undercooked (okay, raw) turkey, scorched sweet potato gratin, and a pot of mashed potatoes that had congealed from too many re-heatings to a den of grumpy and hungry relatives at 1:30 AM.

My pie was excellent, though.

I imagine around noon, when my family noticed that the turkey sat in the refrigerator, still looking a lot like the top of Moby’s head, and that I was out jogging, they began to fear for their meal.

Apparently Thanksgiving dinner is not something you start cooking at 2 PM the day of. Who knew?

In retrospect, by my fifth utterance of  “30 more minutes”  (which would be repeated approximately 81 more times), we all should have packed up shop and headed to a restaurant. Hell, at 1 PM, when I was doing post-workout lunges in our driveway, we should have realized the meal was officially consigned to Hades.

Since I was policing our pantry like a rabid pit bull (I didn't want people to spoil their appetites by eating a mere 12 hours before dinner ... or breakfast, rather), an underground bartering system emerged from our den:

I'll trade you a half-eaten pack of jerky for your Nutrigrain bar.

Five bucks for a handful of the [lint covered] pita chips [from the bottom of your purse].

I'm your father, you owe me those peanuts!

Honestly, considering both our meal's bizarre start time and the overwhelming inedibility of my spread, I would have been better off serving my famous Hot Pocket and Diet Coke. I nail that one almost every time.

Yes, we laugh about it now (at a restaurant, of course). And I still believe home-cooked Thanksgiving dinners are a luxury. However, eating at a normal hour of the day is an even bigger luxury.

Needless to say, don't wait until midnight to realize that dinner at home just isn't happening.

If you begin feeling that your Thanksgiving meal is a no-go, do yourself a favor and salvage the day by dining out.

To find the right restaurant for you, finish the following statement: My Thanksgiving food philosophy is (or will be) best described as _______.

Gimme : Show me what you've got. Thanksgiving is about bounty (you should probably keep this definition to yourself); I want more options than I can actually consume.

Royal Sonesta : Split belly real estate among dozens of options from a decadent spread, including a deep fried turkey, oyster dressing, smoked salmon and scallop crepes, pecan crusted redfish, smoked trout, sushi, a caviar bar, marinated crab claws, shrimp cocktail, oysters, choclate pumpkin bread pudding, blood orange crème brûlée, and more. Challenge accepted.

Seating times available from 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM. $75 per person; $30 for children 6 - 12 years; children uder 6 free.

Traditional What do you mean what do I want to eat? It's Thanksgiving; we're eating turkey and some sort of pumpkin dessert. 

Domenica : Domenica will offer a four-course Thanksgiving menu, consisting of: a wood roasted heirloom carrot salad, creamy grilled fennel and sausage with bruschetta, heritage turkey stuffed 'alla parmigana', and pumpkin budino. $65 per person; $25 for children under 12. 11 AM - 11 PM.

Indecisive:  I want to eat turkey, my foreign cousin wants a shellfish platter, and my nephew wants six bowls of mashed potatoes.

Cafe Adelaide : Order à la carte or from the restaurant's special $38 three-course Thanksgiving menu. Enjoy offerings ranging from typical Cajun, like Adelaide's seafood cassoulet, to festive, think turducken and a sweet potato bisque. Entrees start at $24. 11:30 AM - 7 PM.

Desperate : The turkey exploded,the dip bowl is empty, someone just mentioned Obamacare, Gramps has told the same war anecdote seven times, and a riot is about to break out in the living room if I don't get this group edibles ASAP.

Nirvana : While Nirvana is not going to serve your group a traditional Thanksgiving supper (or anything close to it, for that matter), you don't need reservations, service is fast, and the menu accommodates vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Chelsea Lee is associate editor at NolaVie. Email comments to her at [email protected]

Chelsea Lee is managing editor at NolaVie. Email comments to her at [email protected]