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Special menus for the holiday season

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The holidays, much like Santa, bring with them special goodies. Boston diners, for example, associate the Christmas season with Grill 23 & Bar's special lunch offerings. The restaurant, which does not serve lunch normally throughout the year, does so at Christmas time, and receives acclaim for beautiful holiday decorations as well as its exemplary lunch fare from a three-course prix fixe menu ($39 per person).

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Start with your choice of Grilled Caesar Salad with Chimichurri dressing and roasted tomatoes or Heirloom Beet Soup with Cured Salmon and Citrus Créme Fraiche.

Then choose from such entrée items as Lamb Bolognese
 Orecchiette, Aged Parmesan; Crispy Fried Hake
 with Roasted Lobster Chowder, Tarragon Vinegar; and Grill 23 Dry Aged Sirloin Meatloaf
 with Lazy Susan Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Bordelaise.

Lastly, indulge with either Eggnog Ice Cream Profiteroles with Brandy Caramel or Chocolate Cremeux
 Cocoa Nib Crumble, Whipped Cream, and White Chocolate-Peppermint Sauce.

In the city's South End, Union Bar & Grille is doing a "Home for the Holidays" menu this year with special cocktails, craft beers and wines along with a three course prix fixe ($33.95) that starts with Verrill Farms kale salad with brussel sprouts, endive, black walnuts, and blood orange vinaigrette, New England clam chowdah with littlenecks, cherrystones, bacon and potatoes, or potato and truffle pierogi, duck confit, black trumpet mushrooms, and rich duck jus.

For the main course, pick from goose ballotine with foie gras stuffing, creamed chard, Dot's cranberry relish and pheasant jus; grilled venison with parsnip puree, foraged mushrooms, chestnuts, carrot sauce poivrade; or house-made fettucine with slow cooked wild boar Bolognese, red wine, herbs, and Parmesan crema.

Treat yourself and enjoy your choice of warm pumpkin bread pudding, Bourbon créme Anglaise and spiced pepitas or house seasonal sorbet with fresh berries. The menu is available for the month of December.

Meanwhile, on New Year's in Brookline, Tim Maslow at Ribelle and his former Momofuku (NYC) colleague, James Mark, now with North will offer a Chinese influenced meal. Diners will be seated at tables of 8, a lucky number in Chinese culture. Tickets are $180 a pair (no individual tickets) and diners may be seated at tables with others whom they don't know to celebrate the new year with friends both old and new.

The menu is:

First Course: north

Hot and pungent soup + lobster, country ham, crab paste, dried scallop, shan tofu

Second Course: north & ribelle

Zhajiangmian + dry aged ham ragu, femented beans, spicy cucumbers, buckwheat noodles
Sizzling Fried Rice + scrambled egg, sesame, soy, oysters, oyster mayo

Third Course: ribelle & north

Shanghai Pan Fried Noodle + pickled turnip, smoked miso, egg yolk, preserved porcini
Skate Wing Tomahawk + ginger scallion butter, burnt cabbages, steamed rice

Fourth Course: north & ribelle

Crispy Sweet Potatoes + fermented black bean mash, Chinese chives, young kale, beer brined roots
Peking Duck + scallion pancakes, cucumber, hoisin, fermented hots

Fifth Course: ribelle

Ginger Cake + black sesame ice cream, blood orange curd, nori

Reservations must be made through Event-Brite but reservations for a waiting list will be available from Ribelle at 617-232-2322. Five percent of total sales will go to the Greater Boston Food Bank.

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