London’s best Christmas lunches, from Kerridge’s Bar & Grill to The Twenty Two

Festive fun: the Duck & Waffle tree  (Press handout)
Festive fun: the Duck & Waffle tree (Press handout)

The Christmas Day lunch, as even the most inattentive viewer of Eastenders will have grasped, is an emotionally charged occasion with the potential to escalate into an Armageddon of insults more explosive than even the most shoddily-made Christmas cracker.

Far safer to remove what is possibly the biggest point of contention — the lunch itself — and allow someone else to do the cooking and, even better, the washing up.

London’s hotels, with their captive market of tourists, are an obvious if likely expensive starting point, though it’s worth noting that even somewhere as luxurious as Claridge’s will drop its prices significantly on Boxing Day (from £450 to £100, in Claridge’s case).

The capital’s non-European restaurants, meanwhile, are a reminder that while Christmas may be a Christian festival, the holiday season is celebrated by all faiths and those with none. Tayyabs, the Whitechapel kebab and chop house, is a raucous antidote to seasonal sentimentality, while Chinatown on Christmas Day feels like any other bank holiday.

Below, however, we’ve recommended the restaurants offering push-the-boat-out celebration lunches, or simply the sort of festive feast we all wish we could rustle up given the time and access to professional chef qualifications.

And remember, while most pubs are open on Christmas Day, do leave the drama at home; there’s the Queen Vic for that.

The Guinea

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Many Young’s pubs are offering Christmas Day menus (the Windmill in Clapham looks like a winner) but for sheer feelgood factor — and despite the loss of landlord Oisin Rogers — none beat the Guinea in Mayfair, tucked down a mews off Berkeley Square and serving rib-sticking British classics since 1952 (there’s been an inn on the site since 1423). Expect pretty much everything you would hope to find on a Christmas lunch menu: roast ballotine of turkey or dry-aged rump of beef with a lamb cutlet, all served with roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding, honey-glazed carrots, minted peas and Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts. Veggies get a blue cheese, truffle and walnut gratin, there are starters of prawn cocktail and winter-vegetable soup, sticky toffee or Christmas pud for afters and, in true English fashion, cheese served at the end.

How much? Five courses, £150

30 Bruton Place, W1J 6NL, theguinea.co.uk

Riding House Café

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

London’s pair of Riding House Cafés in Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia are open on Christmas Day for a five-course lunch. Charming chef-patron Henry Omereye oversees roast turkey comes with apple and raisin stuffing and pigs in blankets or there’s whole grilled sea bass with prawns, cockles, samphire and tamarind butter, while veggies get truffled portobello mushroom and sweet potato Wellington with porcini cream. Sides to share include roast potatoes, carrots, kale and sprouts, plus a festive cheese board with cherry tomato jam, while other nice touches include white miso butter with the sourdough roll. To finish, there’s Christmas pudding with pavlova, coconut cream and cranberry compote.

How much: Five courses, £95

1 Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1AF and 43-51 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PQ, ridinghouse.cafe

Kerridge’s Bar & Grill

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Tom Kerridge came in for a fair bit of stick for selling a Christmas feast box that feeds four for £195 but add almost another £100 to that and magically the washing up disappears. Quality, however, is assured. Things kick off with Champagne and canapés ahead of duck liver parfait and crab pancakes, a main-course choice between roast Copas Bronze turkey with all the trimmings or roast fillet of Angus beef with stuffed Yorkshire pudding, then Christmas pudding with brandy sauce and truffle-baked Camembert.

How much? Three courses, £275 (includes canapés and mince pies)

Corinthia London, 10 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5AE, kerridgesbarandgrill.co.uk

The Trafalgar Tavern

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Charles Dickens was such a fan of this famous riverside pub that he chose it as the setting for the wedding breakfast in his final novel, Our Mutual Friend. The Trafalgar in Greenwich, now scrubbed up to its Victorian glory, is offering three traditional courses on Christmas Day: starters of smoked salmon or duck and prune terrine, mains of roast turkey or beef with all the trimmings, then apple custard tart or Christmas pudding and brandy butter. Kids get three courses of garlic bread and crudités, fish and chips or bangers and mash, and apple crumble.

How much: Three-course lunch, £100 (includes a glass of Prosecco); kids’ menu, £25

Park Row, SE10 9NW, trafalgartavern.co.uk

Duck & Waffle

 (Regalo pictures)
(Regalo pictures)

The empty avenues of the Square Mile below might not be the most seasonal streetscape in the capital but cast your eyes instead to the horizon from the 40th-floor of the Heron Tower where, if we’re in for a white Christmas, diners should see the first snowflakes. There’s plenty to look at inside too, from “snow”-covered trees and Xmas glitz to a bar transformed into a sparkling sleigh. No duck on the menu, but the waffle comes as a Christmas pudding waffle while elsewhere are smoked chicken and chestnut hash, Jerusalem artichoke and truffle soup, tranche of turbot and whole roasted Bronze turkey. Extras thrown in include a welcome cocktail, canapés and mince pies.

How much? Three courses, £130 (£180 with matching wine), £50 for children under 10

Heron Tower, Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY, duckandwaffle.com

Bob Bob Ricard

 (Paul Winch-Furness - Photographe)
(Paul Winch-Furness - Photographe)

For anyone looking for some Christmas razzle-dazzle without the Christmas clichés (and no kids under 15) the Soho Bob Bob is open on December 25 serving its usual à la carte menu. BBR remains one of the best bets in London for feeling glamorous without breaking the bank and three courses here can clock in at under 40 quid. Still, who can resist the lure of the “press for Champagne” buttons and the sort of hang-the-expense cooking that will make you wish it could be Christmas every day: caviar with crème fraiche, blinis and vodka shots, salmon en croûte with Champagne sauce, and a savoury pud of Stinking Bishop soufflé to finish if the Insta-bait of the signature chocolate glory melted at the table doesn’t appeal. Or as it’s Christmas, why not have both?

How much: Three courses, approx £55

1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF, bobbobricard.com

Decimo

 (Anton Rodriguez)
(Anton Rodriguez)

For a hotel dining room that doesn’t feel like dining in a hotel, take the jolly red lift to the top floor of the Standard, which gives a cracking view over King’s Cross and St Pancras as it wooshes to the top floor. The view inside Decimo is curiously obscured by dangling curtains (though there’s an unexpected panorama of the West End from the private room at the back) while the Christmas Day menu reflects the half-Spanish heritage of Bristolian chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias: pressed suckling pig; pickled veg and pork scratchings; roast duck breast with truffle mole sauce, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce; and chocolate mousse with Pedro Ximénez sherry, raisins and bread.

How much: Four courses, £120 (includes a welcome drink)

The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG, decimo.london

The Flask

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Follow a Christmas Day constitutional on Hampstead Heath with lunch at the most famous pub in Highgate, parts of which date back to the 17th century, when the namesake flasks were used to gather water from the springs nearby. The Fuller’s pub is offering chicken liver parfait or crab Thermidor tart to start followed by turkey breast with all the trimmings or baked herb-crusted brill, then Christmas pudding with brandy butter or brown-butter shortbread with whipped toffee, washed down with pints of London Pride or something from the well-priced wine list. There are plant-based and children’s menus, too.

How much? Three courses, £95 (includes canapés and petits fours); plant-based menu, £39.95; kids’ menu, £47.50

77 Highgate West Hill, N6 6BU, theflaskhighgate.com

Le Pont de la Tour

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Several D&D London restaurants are open on Christmas Day (including Bluebird, Butlers Wharf Chop House, German Gymnasium and Radici) but for the most magical setting, Le Pont de la Tour, by the river and looking straight at Tower Bridge, is hard to beat. Expect seasonal snacks of ballotine of goose liver, winter truffle macaroni and fried Porthilly oysters ahead of mirabelle-cured salmon, roast tournedos of Bronze turkey, Manjari chocolate delice and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese. Vegetarians get mulled cauliflower croquettes and parsnip gnocchi and there’s a separate kid’s menu, too.

How much? Five courses, £130; vegetarian menu, £120; kids’ menu, £30

36d Shad Thames, SE1 2YE, lepontdelatour.co.uk

The Twenty Two

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

True, it’s a hotel restaurant, but given that this Mayfair newcomer only houses 31 bedrooms, one’s fellow diners are likely to be only the most exclusive of tourists and in-the-know Londoners. An amuse-bouche of white bean and truffle velouté might be followed by Devon crab salad with cucumber, radish and samphire ahead of roast Norfolk turkey with spiced red cabbage and glazed parsnips, and Christmas pudding flamed at the table. Not feeling so festive? There’s also grilled sea bass, baked delica pumpkin and toasted pavlova (not all one dish...).

How much: Six courses, £150 (including a glass of Champagne)

The Twenty Two, 22 Grosvenor Square, W1K 6LF, the22.london

Gaucho

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

The Argentine-themed steak group is famous for its pampas-reared beef but its Hampstead, Richmond and Tower Bridge branches are entering into the festive spirit on December 25 by offering a chimichurri butter-roasted turkey on Christmas Day. Elsewhere on the menu are an amuse bouche of roasted corn velouté with sourdough croutons, starters of cinnamon-cured salmon, chicken liver pâté and a pumpkin, provolone and truffle empanada, plus beef Wellington for the turkey averse, Christmas pudding and cheese and crackers.

How much: Four courses, £125; kids’ menu, £62.50

NW3, SE1 and TW10, gauchorestaurants.com

28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Eat, drink and be merry at the four branches of the wine-focused bar-cum-bistro, where there’s as much emphasis on the imbibing as the ingesting (28-50 are the latitudes between which wine can be successfully produced). Expect classic options of smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, dill and horseradish yoghurt, roast turkey breast with stuffing, roasted potatoes, carrots and sage jus, blue cheese and port, and Christmas pudding with brandy custard. There are fish and veggie dishes, too and, of course, access to the European-led wine list with something for most wallets.

How much: Five courses, £84.95 (including a glass of Champagne)

SW3 (Chelsea and South Kensington), W1, WC2, 2850.co.uk

Holborn Dining Room

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

The courtyard of the Rosewood London hotel plays host to one of London’s more memorably splendid Christmas trees each year, which makes a suitably seasonal entrance before taking a seat in the hotel’s restaurant. Holborn Dining Room might be most famous for its pies but on December 25 roast Bronze turkey, Loch Duart salmon en croûte and roast forerib of Aberdeen Angus will be taking centre stage; elsewhere on the five-course menu are starters of cinnamon and orange-cured Forman & Field salmon, Thermidor-glazed diver-caught scallop, Christmas pudding with brandy butter, and mince pies with the coffee.

How much? Five courses, £195 (including a glass of Champagne)

Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN, holborndiningroom.com

Sushisamba

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Both Sushisambas will be open for Christmas Day but, given the vista from the Heron Tower is more impressive from Duck & Waffle, this Covent Garden sibling may be a better bet if you’re here for the food not the views (though the setting above Covent Garden Market, looking out onto the Piazza, is not without its charm). The restaurant will be decked out with an installation of over 300 metallic balloons while, to eat, the “Festive Taste of Samba” menu promises oyster karaage with yuzu koshō mayo, a chirashi of langoustine, caviar, samphire, tamago, and yuzu tobiko, truffle Asahi-braised short rib with purple potato and wasabi kizami, and truffle-grilled lobster. Want turkey? There’s always the Boxing Day sales.

How much: Five courses, £150

35 The Market, WC2E 8RF, sushisamba.com

@mrbenmccormack