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 Credit * Photograph: Spread Eagle
Photograph: Spread Eagle

The nine best Christmas meals to book at London restaurants

Six of which have group outdoor dining options!

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui

Got turkey cravings? Indulge in the best festive feasts at London restaurants this year, from decadent sandwiches to full-on banquets.

1. The Bombay bad boy 

Here’s a festive treat we never knew we needed: mince-pie kulfi. You’ll find the fruity, creamy frozen dessert on Dishoom’s Christmas feasting menu. The line-up is thaals (large communal plates) featuring some of its best-loved dishes, small plates, grills, biryanis, plus a slow-cooked turkey raan. That’s a 24-hour barbecued turkey leg served with a spicy cranberry chutney. The menu is available right up until Christmas Eve for groups of four to six people and costs £39 per person. If you’re looking for outdoor seating, head to the Shoreditch, Carnaby and King’s Cross branches. For a good deal? Check out its newly revamped Covent Garden joint where there’s 50 percent off food until the end of January. Really, really good stuff. Various locations 

2. The one on a lovely festive terrace

Lush greenery, an elegant piazza… stepping into the Petersham feels like coding yourself into the Instagram app. And boy, oh boy, have we missed it while it’s been shut for the past nine months. But the Richmond favourite is back, reopening its doors as a winter wonderland just in time for the festive season. Wrap up super warm in a blanket with a hot aperitivo while you sit under a sea of twinkling lights and decorations on the patio. Then tuck into La Goccia’s Italian Christmas set menu. It’s a £75 per person sharing affair: rich pumpkin ravioli, osso buco di vitello with bone marrow risotto and a classic fluffy Italian panettone with marsala zabaione. Just a light meal then. 31 King St, WC2E 8JD.

3. The vegan nirvana

Non-meat-eaters needn’t miss out on Christmas bingeing. No, no: in fact, if you head to 100 percent vegan pub The Spread Eagle you can expect a menu so vast it’ll leave you unable to walk home. Head chef Gina Hopkins’s creations focus on inventive, bold, surprising flavours. There’s potted ‘faux gras’ with toast and pickles. There’s beet wellington, with all the traditional seasonal trimmings and an unbelievably rich gravy, which is sure to confuse the meatheads. It’s all a very reasonable £30 for three courses (and a glass of bubbly) and there’s outdoor seating with heaters on the terrace and in the garden. 224 Homerton High St, E9 6AS.

4. The properly luxury option

The bad news? Chef Calum Franklin’s legendary pies won’t be gracing the festive menu at Holborn Dining Room this year, so Christmas visitors won’t get to indulge in the, quite frankly, iconic potato one. The good news? The menu the plush restaurant is serving more than makes up for it. A baked lobster-thermidor tart and rabbit-and-bacon en croûte on starters, while roast Suffolk turkey served with red braised cabbage and cranberry sauce makes for a fitting centrepiece. Costing £70 per person for three courses and ending with a mighty selection of desserts, this is proper rich-person-well-on-their-way-to-get-gout food. 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN.

Photograph: Charlie McKay
Photograph: Charlie McKay

5. The traditional family-style dinner

As many of us debate whether to stay put or head home for Christmas this year, one thing that is for certain is that The Camberwell Arms’ famously plentiful winter menu is back on. Expect classic Christmas stuff. Crispy brussels sprouts, topped with pickled red onions, thyme and fried breadcrumbs? Hi! Glistening glazed smoked ham? Hello… Rich chocolate cheesecake with spiced poached clementine? Yes, please. It can all be yours from £35. And you can even order it all to be delivered to your home via the Big Night website too, if you want the festive fun without the in-communal-space risks. 65 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8TR.

6. The actual Christmas Day extravaganza

If you’re skipping seeing the parents this year and the idea of spending hours cooking a roast on Christmas Day seems incredibly tedious, don’t panic. We have one hell of a recommendation for you. End the year on a high with a proper blowout meal complete with sweeping, panoramic views of the city (and outdoor seating if you so desire). The venue? Decimo at LA-cool hotel The Standard. You can enjoy the likes of *deep breath* wood fire bread with olive oil, Spanish pigs in blankets, jamon croquetas, fried potatoes, muscovy duck with mole, and chocolate mousse to wash it all down for £68 per person. It includes a welcome cocktail and zero washing up. 10 Argyle St, WC1H 8EG.

7. The extremely meaty option

Vegans be gone from here. Smokestak is firing up its grill for a toasty festive season. The wood-smoking specialist has just launched a fully enclosed heated winter terrace with a clear roof to allow in as much natural sunlight (or what’s left of it) as possible while keeping you dry and sort-of warm. Anyway, we’re sure you’ll forget about any December chill when the food arrives at this Shoreditch spot. The plan here is incredible Christmas sandwiches, announced one at a time, like streetwear drops but tastier and far less cringe. First up? A smoked gammon, gherkin and sauerkraut special for £9. 35 Sclater St, E1 6LB.

Photograph: Holborn Dining Room
Photograph: Holborn Dining Room

8. The wine-and-sarnie smash

The geniuses at neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar Peckham Cellars have created a Christmas miracle: a festive sandwich that’s almost overwhelming in its scale and richness. Take a deep-fried turkey schnitzel, bacon jam, stuffing, brie, and cranberry sauce and wedge between two ginormous slices of bread. Then serve with a side dish of jus to dip it all in. It’s £10 and perfect for eating slowly while you indulge in a few socially distanced natural reds, either at home with your household or basking in the warm glow of Peckham Cellars’ shiny outdoor heaters with a BYO blanket. 125 Queen’s Rd, SE15 2ND.

9. And one last idea…

Not a fan of the classic Christmas roast? Consider going for a Cantonese roast goose or duck this festive season. (It’s also a great way to support a small BIPOC independent restaurant that has been ravaged by the pandemic while you’re at it.) Our pick for the best birds in town? Gold Mine, a no-frills Chinese restaurant that’s known for its signature roast meats, which can be seen hanging in the window. They’re available for dine in or takeaway. Our suggestion? Take a bird home (it’s £27.80 for a whole roast duck ) and replicate Asian banquet vibes in the comfort of your own home. Serve it with roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, pigs in blankets and gravy. Purists can get stuffed: it’s Christmas 2020, there are no rules any more. 102 Queensway, W2 3RR.

Not feeling festive yet? Catch the vibe from these dazzling Christmas light displays in London

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