Christmas in America is about one thing: overindulgence. Sure, for a distinct minority, it's a religious holiday, but for most people it's about spending too much money, buying too many gifts, seeing too many relatives, drinking too much booze, and eating too much food. There's no better way to celebrate the season's excess than going to a fancy hotel for a really BIG Christmas meal. Here's our guide to the biggest banquets: The Hunt Club
Sorrento Hotel, 900 Madison, 343-6156 The Hunt Club is "an incredibly romantic spot," according to Cat Spellman, the restaurant's able publicist. Spellman purrs about the atmosphere in a way that simply makes you want to climb up First Hill immediately, take in the wild, "over-the-top" holiday decorations, listen to the live jazz piano of Overton Berry in the lounge, and enjoy a fabulous meal from Chef Brian Scheehser. Christmas Day comestibles begin with cream of forest mushroom soup with hazelnut chantilly and move on to main courses like roast breast of Oregon pheasant accompanied by wild rice stuffing and spiced apple compote, or rainbow brook trout with potato gnocchi. And who could resist a dessert of ginger cr譥 brl饠or a soft-centered chocolate torte? Afterwards, sated, one can wander the lobby admiring the Honduran mahogany and the decorative creations of the pastry chef, who baked a miniature replica of the hotel in gingerbread last year. Adults $75, children under 12 pay their age, 2-8pm. The Georgian Room
Four Seasons Olympic Hotel, 411 University, 621-7889 It's "holiday magic" from the moment you pull up at the Four Seasons hotel, says enthusiastic employee Melissa Henninger. Outside the trees sparkle with white holiday lights, while inside the grand lobby a 30-foot Christmas tree holds court. Take the kids upstairs to the Teddy Bear Suite, one of the hotel's sumptuous suites completely filled with teddy bears. Over 100 teddy bear books beckon, you can have pictures taken, and there are costumes to try on. Dinner in the Georgian Room is filled with an "exciting holiday buzz," Henninger says. The sheer elegance of the surroundings—30-foot ceilings, paladin windows, gorgeous chandeliers—will alone make the evening special. But then there's the food, by chef Gavin Stephenson. Start out with duck liver roulade crusted with crushed black truffles, or a smoked salmon and lobster cocktail with Russian caviar relish. Main courses range from the traditional—roast Tom turkey with all the trimmings—to the contemporary—morel mushroom pie with truffle roast root vegetables. Top it off with a Christmas plum pudding or pistachio cr譥 brl饠in a crisp pastry, and you'll go home floating from the "five-star treatment." Adults $75, children $22, 3:30-9pm. The Painted Table
Alexis Hotel, 92 Madison, 624-3636 "A unique visual setting that whets the appetite for what's to come" awaits you at the Painted Table, a lively restaurant nestled into the European-style, boutique Alexis Hotel, according to publicist Tamara Wilson. The restaurant's signature style features painted tables set with "larger charger plates, each hand-thrown and hand-painted," created especially for the restaurant by several well-known Washington artists. If the atmosphere alone isn't enough to thrill you, consider this: Christmas is chef Tim Kelley's favorite day of the year. Kelley, steeped in Asian and French influences, showcases his honey-lavender Long Island duck on the 25th. Other entr饳 include an herb-basted salmon and New York steak. Inventive appetizers, like pomegranate-glazed quail and a winter squash bisque, introduce this chef's style to newcomers. Adults $50, $70 with additional wine pairing, 2-8pm. Roy's
Westin Hotel, 1900 Fifth, 256-7697 Want to escape those midwinter Seattle blues? Head on down to Roy's for your Christmas feast. A steel drum band serenades guests as they enter the festive dining room amidst waitstaff decked out in Hawaiian shirts. The South Sea influence comes from Roy Yamaguchi, the culinary visionary behind Roy's, who has pioneered "a true contemporary Hawaiian cuisine—that blend of East and West and Polynesia that's been long expected and slow arriving," according to Honolulu magazine. At Roy's Seattle restaurant chef Dean Shinagawa offers a Christmas Day buffet featuring whole Maine lobster vichyssoise, prime rib, and a carving station with classic roast turkey. Other entr饳 include the cilantro pesto-seared mahi mahi, herb-roasted leg of lamb, and poached eggs Tillamook with Canadian bacon. Cap the evening with sweet Hawaiian bread pudding or a Grand Marnier coconut yule log, and you'll swear you spent the holidays in Maui this year. Adults $26.95, kids (6-11) $12.95,10am-4pm. George Howland is the news editor at Seattle Weekly.