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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Culinary Christmas

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2006 at 10:42 AM

It's that festive time of year when restaurant owners across the land nail a tattered artificial wreath onto the front door and slap A Gene Autry Christmas into the eight-track. Fortunately, some spots take decorating to a higher level, seasoning their cuisine with tasty holiday lighting and decor. Take Vue in Hudson: We stopped by the restaurant's handsome lounge for cocktails and apps last weekend, as a prelude to some Christmas shopping, figuring the handsome appointments, unobtrusive holiday music, and sparkly view of the First & Main shopping district would make perfect starters to a spending spree. We weren't the least bit disappointed. Here are some of our other picks for servings of seasonal cheer: Inn at Turner's Mill in Hudson . . . The cozy "Christmas in the country" decor includes a fireplace, candlelight, and lots of elegantly rustic ornamentation, as backdrop to a menu of seasonal American cuisine. Vivo downtown, in the Old Arcade) . . . Posh, sophisticated, yet just excessive enough to qualify as Christmas decor, Vivo's hall-decking not only includes its own upscale interior, but provides the ideal excuse to stroll through the attached, historic Arcade, where the glass, gilding, and intricate ironwork always seems straight off a Victorian Christmas card. XO Prime in the Warehouse District . . . Like the restaurant itself, XO's seasonal decor is spare and svelte. But there is just something about the high ceilings, the sexy lighting, and the view of downtown through the tall Palladian windows that always makes us feel shiny and bright. Shaker Square (for a full listing of restaurants, see www.shakersquare.net ) . . . When it comes to dining, this East Side landmark is a veritable buffet, with options ranging from family-friendly (Yours Truly), to Brazilian (Sarav�), Mexican (Luchita's), Hungarian (Balaton), contemporary American (fire), and a coffeehouse (Dewey's), where a steamy mug of hot chocolate tastes just like Christmas Eve. Regardless of where you actually eat, window-side tables offer lovely views; afterward, amble around the four quadrants of the Square, to gather the full effect. Chagrin Falls . . . As is the case at Shaker Square, Chagrin Falls' restaurant options are many -- Blake's? Rick's Cafe? Gamekeeper's Tavern?. But the New England-style vibe is a singular treat, with trees, windows, and riverside railings festooned in garlands, greenery, and ribbons. Take a walk, dig the lights, and see if you don't start whistling "White Christmas." -- Elaine T. Cicora

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