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Holiday dinners pack a wollop of flavor and value

Posted 3:29pm on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

If you're not cooking Christmas or New Year's Eve dinners, give yourself a pat on the back. And then make reservations for a lovely evening out. Here are our five top picks for dining out, plus a nice option for staying home with a fabulous dinner prepared by experts. (Note that prices generally don't include alcohol, tax or tip.)

Bonnell's: Jon Bonnell serves some of his greatest hits on a three-course, $85 menu on New Year's Eve. You'll get his oyster Texasfeller, crispy quail leg, braised duck empanada and elk taco on the appetizer platter, followed by a main course of beef tenderloin with grilled swordfish and a dessert sampler with a glass of sparkling wine. 

Cacharel: High atop an office building in North Arlington, with a killer view of Cowboys Stadium and Six Flags, you can enjoy this elegant French restaurant's usual menus on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. From the steak menu, choose classic shrimp cocktail or smoked salmon followed by beef tenderloin and lobster tail; or go for the prix-fix ($48.50 per person) menu choices, such as classic Caesar salad or escargot, roasted duck breast in mango-cinnamon sauce and apricot souffle with roasted macadamias.

Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana: On New Year's Eve, Lanny offers a $95 dinner that would cost $150 or more in other cities. His lengthy, six-course menu includes lobster tail with wild mushrooms and apple-sweet potato puree; duck proscuitto over romaine, goat cheese and poached pear; and prime tenderloin with gnocchi. As usual, his desserts are a bit insane.

Lonesome Dove: Tim Love, opening his renowned restaurant on Sundays during December, will serve a seven-course New Year's Eve menu, with a champagne toast, for $95 - another relative bargain for the kind of ingredients used. A sampling of dishes includes lamb belly BLT with kangaroo nacho and duck confit spring roll; Berkshire pork green chili; grilled trout with sweet potato-langostino stuffing; a cheese course; and many sweets.

Olenjack's Grille: Chef Brian Olenjack offers a Christmas Eve buffet from 4 until 8 p.m. ($25 adults $12. children), laden with everything from braised beef with poblanos and winter vegetables to penne with bolognese, greens with tomato vinaigrette and grilled salmon salad, plus loads of desserts. On New Year's Eve, multi-course dinner options ($45-$47 per person or $100 per couple start with black-eyed pea soup or salad, followed by either lamb chops, halibut with gumbo or beef tenderloin, followed by a selection of fancy desserts.

To see who else is open and accepting reservations, check out Open Table.

Want to stay in but eat well? Ask Central Market for help. The grocery's catering department can hook you up with a complete, traditional turkey dinner, as well as turkey dinners with special twists, all to take home and enjoy. But if you're ready for something different, think about the herb-crusted beef tenderloin dinner, serving 6 to 8, for $169.99. It includes herbed potato gratin, roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and haved parmesan and brioche rolls. There's a nice vegetarian dinner option, too, serving 2 for $39.99.

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