Christmas comes but once a year but Christmas lunch doesn’t have to: between now and New Year’s Eve it would be easy enough to have a different festive feast every day of the week in a London restaurant.
Of course, a Christmas lunch with friends is not the same as dinner with a loved one under the mistletoe and unless you’re exceptionally close to your colleagues then the annual knees-up with workmates is likely to have a rather different flavour to a festive family gathering. Below we’ve selected a range of places to celebrate, from gastropubs that are great for groups to Michelin-starred restaurants serving some of the finest food in London.
Here we’ve concentrated on the more traditional turkey-with-all-the-trimmings places from, if not quite budget, then the reasonably priced to the blow-out. Look out, too, for our upcoming guides to London’s best veggie and vegan Christmas menus, and stay tuned next week for our guide to the finest restaurants in the capital open on Christmas Day. Season’s eatings!
This dining room in the former floral hall of Borough Market offers the opportunity to stock up on festive ingredients from London’s finest larder before sitting down to an à la carte Christmas lunch or dinner. One course of roast breast of Norfolk Bronze turkey with trimmings of (deep breath) cabbage, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, root vegetables and — why the hell not? — Yorkshire pudding will probably suffice for most appetites, or go for a full three-course blow-out of turkey and sage Scotch egg, roast beef Wellington and Christmas pudding with brandy custard.
How much? Turkey and all the trimmings, £32.50; three-course lunch/dinner, approx £55
When? Until December 31
The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL, roast-restaurant.com
The Cadogan Arms
Christmas trees, hot toddies, mince pies and carols courtesy of the Chelsea Pensioners Choir: The Cadogan Arms might not just be the most Christmassy pub on the King’s Road but the whole capital (though prices are very much aimed at SW3 locals: Bob Cratchit, walk on by). Expect starters of smoked salmon, ham hock terrine, prawn cocktail and parsnip soup ahead of roast Bronze turkey with all the trimmings, beef Wellington with bone marrow gravy, and braised roe deer shoulder for two to share, then rhubarb trifle, chocolate tart and Christmas pudding with brandy butter sauce.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £90
When? Until January 1
298 King’s Road, SW3 5UG, thecadoganarms.london
Should festive conversation begin to flag, there is live jazz to fill the silence at Ranald Macdonald’s pair of tartan-clad, Scottish-themed restaurants where the menu offers a tickbox of tarted-up Christmas classics alongside some decidedly non-festive dishes for the bah-humbug brigade. Dunkeld oak-smoked salmon can be followed by roast Norfolk Bronze turkey wrapped in Parma ham, and black cherry and amaretto Christmas pudding, or crispy squid with chilli and Tellicherry pepper by smoked haddock fishcake “Monte Carlo” and sticky toffee pudding. Decent veggie choice, too.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner from £59
When? November 28-December 30 (closed 24-27)
15 Eccleston Street, SW1W 9LX and Cabot Place, E14 4QT, boisdale.co.uk
Can’t make it to Lapland? Book a table instead at Aquavit, the St James’ Market Scandinavian, where head chef Jonas Karlsson is introducing Londoners to the Julbord, the traditional Nordic sharing feast that is basically a smörgåsbord with Christmas bells on. Expect starters of a trio of pickled herrings and gravlax with dill and mustard sauce ahead of Swedish meatballs, prinskorv sausage and braised short ribs. Puddings include ris à la Malta (rice pudding) with sour cherry sauce and there are Swedish petits fours, too.
How much? Lunch/dinner, £90 per person (minimum two guests)
When? Until December 24
St James’s Market, 1 Carlton Street, SW1Y 4QQ, aquavitrestaurants.com
Chef James Lowe’s Michelin-starred Shoreditch dining room is offering a three- and four-course Christmas menu alongside the usual lunchtime à la carte and evening tasting menu. The daily changing menu will reflect the best seasonal British ingredients Lowe has been able to get hold of that morning: Falmouth native oysters with crab apple, say, or mussels with Brussels sprouts tops and lovage, and braised goose with carrots and prunes.
How much? Three/four-course lunch, £65/£79
When? December 1-23
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ, lyleslondon.com
Eat in one of the poshest parts of town without paying a king’s ransom at this Belgravia gastropub. Three Christmassy courses at lunch and dinner include a warm salad of confit duck with pancetta, duck-fat potatoes, lambs lettuce and crispy hen’s egg followed by roast turkey with hispi cabbage, parsnip purée, pommes cocotte, pigs in blankets and cranberries, with Christmas pudding ice cream with warm madeleines and frosted pecans for afters. Super handy for catching the last train home from Victoria, too.
How much? Two/three-course lunch/dinner, £34/£39
When? December 1-23
139 Ebury Street, SW1W 9QU, ganymedelondon.co.uk
Each of the Gladwin Brothers’ six London dining rooms (including The Black Lamb SW19, The Fat Badger TW10, Nutbourne SW11, Rabbit SW3 and The Shed W8) is offering a Christmas set menu this December but for slap-bang-in-the-middle convenience, Sussex in Soho is the bros’ easiest restaurant for everyone to get to. The playful take on Crimbo classics includes turkey sausage roll with tarragon and mustard seed, monkfish and chard Wellington with saffron butter sauce, and mince-pie jammy dodgers.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £49.95
When? Until December 23
63-64 Frith Street, W1D 3JW, sussex-restaurant.com
The “Festive Dinner” at Richard Corrigan’s Mayfair restaurant offers three courses with three choices for each and, refreshingly, not a turkey or mince pie in sight: welcome relief for anyone suffering from a Christmas food surfeit. British game terrine and line-caught mackerel sashimi precede day-boat Cornish plaice and slow-cooked Antrim ox cheek; vegetarians get Jerusalem artichoke royale and a warm salad of endive and there’s spiced pumpkin custard, a Valhrona chocolate tart and a pair of British and Irish cheeses to choose between for pud.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £59/£69; wine pairing, £36/£40
When? Until December 31
28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH, corrigansmayfair.co.uk
Old Compton Brasserie
One might have marinated cured salmon followed by roast turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding with rum custard at OCB this festive season but the Soho brasserie is too much of a crowd pleaser not to give the Crimbo-averse something to eat too: tempura prawns followed by roast cod with crushed new potatoes, or cream of celeriac soup and pan-fried gnocchi with caponata for the veggies, plus Belgian chocolate cake, sticky toffee pudding and crème brûlée for afters. Probably not a meal to be savoured with one’s nearest and dearest but great fun with a group of mates. All that and a bauble installation, too.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £35-£50 according to date
When? November 21-December 23
36-38 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TT, oldcomptonbrasserie.co.uk
The Quality Chop House
Founded in 1869, this Farringdon classic is the place to indulge in a full Victorian Christmas fantasy. The “Festive Feasting Menu” is designed to share whether you’re a table of two or 10. Snacky starters of game terrine, smoked short-rib croquette and pastrami-cured salmon precede a cut of meat prepared that day by the in-house butcher: Highland sirloin, stuffed saddle of Yorkshire lamb or Bronze turkey, with a boozy pecan tart for pud. Still hungry? Order an extra plate of chicken liver and foie gras parfait with winter black truffle (£18) and a Stichelton and fig cheese course (£15).
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £65
When? December 1-23
88-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA, thequalitychophouse.com
Le Comptoir Robuchon
Say “joyeux Joël!” — maybe — at this glossy London outpost of the Robuchon empire, a fittingly luxurious tribute to the man who was the most awarded chef in Michelin-star history at the time of his death in 2018. Capon replaces turkey, with ooh-la-la trimmings of winter black truffle, salsify and Perigueux sauce; elsewhere are Gallic-accented dishes of mushroom royale with parsley coulis, wild turbot, foie gras torchon with pear jam and brioche, and chocolate cream with hazelnut shortbread. There’s a vegetarian menu, too, though paying the same price for the likes of Jersualem artichoke risotto strikes us as un peu de trop.
How much? Five-course lunch/dinner, £120
When? Until December 24
6 Clarges Street, W1J 8AE, robuchonlondon.co.uk
London’s second-oldest restaurant began life as an oyster barrow on Haymarket in 1742 and moved to this Jermyn Street site in 1984, though thankfully the quality of British ingredients available has improved in the intervening 280 years. Wilton’s is famous for being one of London’s dearer places to have dinner, but what is less well known is that the set lunch is a bit of a bargain for St James’s and Christmas is no exception. Things kick off with celeriac, hazelnut and truffle soup, Secret Smokehouse smoked salmon or six rock oysters ahead of poached sea trout, Acquerello risotto cake or daube of venison with quince, chestnuts and wild mushrooms, and Christmas pudding, apple crumble or cheese for afters. Determined to have turkey? Throughout December, roast Norfolk Bronze turkey will be served from the carving trolley.
How much? Two/three course lunch, £39.95/£47.95; turkey from the trolley, £40
When? Lunch, and turkey from the trolley Mon, Wed and Fri evening, December 3-23
55 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX, wiltons.co.uk
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Rather like a high-street equivalent of Annabel’s, the King’s Road outpost of the Ivy offshoot goes all out on the festive decoration front each Christmas, transforming into something that looks like a set from Elf. The three-course menu includes a seasonal spin on shepherd’s pie with confit goose and turkey and pigs in blankets with cranberry sauce while elsewhere are Stilton and walnut soufflé, roast salmon fillet and Christmas pudding with vanilla cream. Festive drinks, meanwhile, include a vodka and ginger “spiced apple strudel” and a Cognac-heavy hot chocolate.
How much? Three-course lunch/dinner, £60 (including mince pies and Christmas crackers)
When? Until December 24
195-197 King’s Road, SW3 5EQ, theivychelseagarden.com
Petersham Nurseries Café
London’s poshest garden centre looks lovely at any time of year (especially when combined with the riverside walk from Richmond) but Christmas is particularly magical, not least because the lifestyle emporium inside is a Santa’s grotto of covetable gift ideas. The Italian flavour to the Christmas menu reflects the heritage of owners and all-round arbiters of taste Gael and Francesco Boglione: chanterelle and parmesan risotto with the option to add white truffle, duck breast with seared quince, spiced red cabbage and chestnuts, and mulled wine-poached pear with honey ice cream made from the hives onsite.
How much? Two/three-course lunch/dinner, £55/£65
When? Until 23 December
Off Church Lane, Petersham Road, Richmond, TW10 7AB, petershamnurseries.com