Food & Drink

Centre County restaurants offer special holiday menus

Harrison’s for the Holidays December menu features special items throughout the month.
Harrison’s for the Holidays December menu features special items throughout the month. Photo provided

If you’d prefer to kick up your feet and relax over the holidays, rather than spend family time slaving away over a turkey in the kitchen, the best chefs in State College can give your family a fantastic Christmas or New Year’s feast. You’ll be left wondering why you ever stayed home for the holidays in the first place.

Toftrees Golf Resort offers a Christmas Day buffet in the Aspen Room. The Christmas Day menu, available 11 a.m.-3 p.m., includes appetizers (assorted cheeses, a charcuterie display and chilled shrimp); a soup and garden station (an artisan salad blend, Waldorf salad, melon and berry display, truffle essence potato soup, baguettes and breads); pasta station (made to order with three different kinds of pasta, four sauces and add-ins such as seafood, chicken and vegetables); chef’s carving station (beef strip loin with roasted garlic jus, bourbon-mustard glazed Virginia ham and roasted turkey with gravy); and buffet (Cornish game hen, herb-crusted salmon, butternut squash ravioli, Scarborough fair potatoes, wild rice, green beans and carrots).

The mouthwatering buffet is $39 for adults, $19 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger.

Right down the street, the Carnegie Inn & Spa restaurant is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve guests can find the regular menu. However, a special New Year’s Eve offer combines both the Inn and restaurant, for an adults-only getaway. The New Year’s Eve First Night Celebration Package is offered Dec. 31 only, and includes dinner for two, cooked-to-order breakfast, a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries and two First Night event buttons.

Downtown, the Allen Street Grill provides several different New Year’s Eve feature items on its menu, convenient for stopping by during the First Night festivities. Special entrees include a half-roasted Long Island duck with orange sauce, fingerling potatoes and fresh vegetables; stuffed flounder with crab meat and Old Bay butter sauce, rice pilaf and fresh vegetables; and freestyle ravioli of shrimp, carrots, baby spinach, asparagus, roasted peppers and onions, layered between three pasta sheets and finished off with a fresh chive sauce. The New Year’s Eve entrees start at $19.29.

Even if you can’t make time for a sit-down dinner on New Year’s Eve, First Night vendors offer plenty to tempt your taste buds. Grab Hanson’s Original Kettle Korn at Sidney Friedman Park or Heidi’s Strudel on South Allen Street. The University Baptist and Brethren Church on South Burrowes Street will host a Soups and Sweets Cafe, 4-8 p.m., serving up homemade breads, soups and desserts, with donations benefiting youth travel and volunteer work. Likewise, the Faith United Church of Christ on East College Avenue hosts its own First Night Cafe, with several different varieties of chili, hot dogs and desserts, with proceeds going toward the church’s ministries.

Already have your Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans, and can’t make it to a special holiday dining event? Harrison’s has you covered this month with its Harrison’s for the Holidays December menu. Special menu items include starters like lobster bisque and baked brie in puff pastry, and entrees after 4:30 p.m. such as prosciutto and pear-stuffed chicken and pecan-crusted salmon. Other holiday features are a grilled vegetable lasagna (with four cheese and bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash) and deconstructed beef wellington served with mashed potatoes and Guinness gravy. Dessert is a sticky toffee gingerbread, topped with Meyer Dairy whipped cream. The restaurant is even serving up a few holiday cocktails to keep things merry, such as spiked eggnog with Cognac and cinnamon, and a candy cane cocktail.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at