Ah, Christmas. It happens every year and yet, without fail, every November we’re shocked it’s sitting there on the horizon, looming, with its bank account-draining socialising and gifting and its excess of dry turkey.
We promise we’re not grinches here at Foodism, but we do like to pick and choose the elements of festive splendour we partake in. That Christmas lunch with your cousin’s best friend’s girlfriend’s group of pals? Hard pass. The pub crawl with your nearest and dearest where Christmas jumpers are compulsory? Absolutely, we’ll be there in a flash.
One of the few things we actually appreciate about Christmas? The ways in which some of our favourite restaurants interpret the classic festive fare into a series of vibrant feasting menus designed for congregating with your loved ones around a dining table, with no arguing over who does the dishes and no overcooked poultry in sight. While it might feel like every damn restaurant in the capital is trotting out a Christmas menu, some of them are genuinely wonderful. We’ve done our snooping and rounded up our favourites here for you. Post-dinner argument over port not included.
The best Christmas menus in London for 2023
Dishoom is a go-to restaurant for a mega feast any day of the year, so it makes sense their Christmas offering would be an indulgent affair. Giving the classic ingredients an Indian twist, the menu includes dishes like turkey raan (spiced, slow-cooked and served with a vibrant masala), sprouts with lime-chilli dressing alongside classic dishes from the menu served in abundance. Wash it all down with their selection of festive tipples.
30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL
Fancy absolutely banishing turkey from your festive menu? Head to Speedboat Bar, where the team are bringing the best of Bangkok’s Chinatown to London. Priced at £50 per person, the menu starts with Speedboat’s signature sweetcorn fritters followed by Thai oysters with smoky nam prik pao chilli jam, and a zingy green seafood sauce topped with crispy shallots. Then, move onto a warming prawn chu chee curry of whole king prawns, temper the heat with pickled mustard green salad and Chinese broccoli, chestnut, and shitake mushroom, before moving onto the main event: khao moo - pork hocks slow-braised with soy sauce, cassia and star anise. You may never go back to a classic turkey and trimmings.
St. JOHN Bread and Wine
94-96 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ
The original St. JOHN completely redefined modern British food, and its younger sibling, with head chef Farokh Talati at its helm, has continued this reputation with a dose of east London running through it. This is the place to come for hearty, warming fare – exactly the kind of food you want around Christmas – and the festive menu is precisely that. For £57 per person, you’ll get a whole roast pig, grilled venison, roasted Dexter beef or roast goose and goose fat mash for the main course, with accompanying starters and desserts paired alongside.
Acme Fire Cult
Abbot Street, E8 3DP
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The best way to jazz up a Christmas meal? Cook it over fire, of course, and there’s no better spot to head to for a smoke-licked festive feast than Acme Fire Cult. Nudged into a car park at the bottom of a side road in Dalston, it wouldn’t immediately seem like the place you’d find a cosy winter dining spot, but the restaurant seems to rise out of the wintery night like a smoky beacon. The covered, heated terrace somehow manages to banish the chill from outside, and the aroma from the BBQ will have you salivating immediately. The team have given their small plates a suitable yuletide update, and for mains you can choose from chicken, lamb shoulder or wood roast beef with accompanying sides. Pints of 40FT beer (the brewery sits opposite) are borderline compulsory.
19 Ganton Street, W1F 9BN
Nothing is more likely to get you in the festive mood than a long Italian lunch, and there’s no better place to head for Mediterranean gluttony than Pastaio. For just £30 a head the group feasting menu includes sharing antipasti and a choice of pasta, such as Brussels sprout, chestnut and pancetta gnocchi or Dorset crab spaghetti, all rounded off with its signature tiramisu. Whet your appetite a boozy slushy – the flavour changes monthly in collaboration with one of the team’s favourite foodies.
The Laundry Brixton
374 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PL
Fancy your Christmas meal with a bistro feel? Set your coordinates for The Laundry in Brixton, easily one of our favourite restaurants in the city for reliable all-day dining. Head chef Sami Harvey has given festive dining a French accent (alongside a hearty dose of Kiwi hospitality) with dishes like cod provençal and confit duck leg served with a selection of sides including Christmas classics Brussels sprouts & chestnuts and pigs in blankets.
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Steak takes centre stage at Gaucho. Specifically Argentinian steaks with environmental kudos (the team are working to lower the carbon footprint of their meat as much as possible). But they’re branching out a little at Christmas; across the group’s 20 restaurants, there are a series of festive menus at differing price points that prove this steakhouse isn’t just about red meat. From chimichurri butter roasted turkey to whole grilled sea bass, Gaucho proves that their repertoire is wide and varied. Don’t worry, though, there are still the classic ribeyes and lomos for those looking to top up their iron levels.
Celebrate Christmas Sri Lankan style at Hoppers. Whether you opt for 'The Festive Taste of Hoppers' menu which gives the restaurant’s classic tasting menu a yuletide twist with the addition of dishes like venison roll and cranberry ketchup, crown jewel Karis and lamb kothu, or go all out with the 'Group Festive Feast' which is a whopping spread packed full of chettinadu chicken bites, prawn chilli fry, kalupol roasted chicken, lamb kothu, unlimited hoppers and dosas and festive pudding, you’re sure to leave well-fed and merry.