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London’s best festive dining

Published on November 12, 2019 by Rebecca Hinshelwood

waiter serving food at a fine dining restaurant

If you find yourself in London over the festive period, you’ll probably be thinking of where to eat. Food is crucial to the Christmas experience. So we have family festive meals and corporate Christmas dinners. Not to mention the array of lunches, suppers and nibbles while you catch up with those ‘auld acquaintances’. But if you’re passing through or on a long stay in the city, where are the most festive London eateries?

The Feasting Tradition

First, why the obsession with food at Christmas? Well, it goes back farther than you might expect! Back to the Romans, actually. The Roman feast Saturnalia and subsequently the Anglo-Saxon Yule were festivals based on the Winter Solstice where the darkest days of the year were lightened by feasting and celebrating. Gradually, through Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Dickens’ Victorian Christmas, the feast was refined with boar, goose, and eventually turkey. Mince pies and Christmas pudding have evolved from meat based dishes into the sweet dried fruit puddings that we know today. It is these which adorn many a festive menu in London’s dining establishments.

Traditional Roast Dinner

Simpsons in the Strand – Strand, WC2 

This is the ultimate in traditional English festive fare. For nearly 200 years, spectacular roast beef has been carved at the table from a silver trolley. At Christmas you can choose between the beef and Norfolk turkey with festive stuffing and pigs in blankets. There is of course a salmon or vegetarian option too. To follow, Christmas pud and chocolate yule log complete the classic menu. Simpsons is perfectly located for combining with a show, from The Snowman to The Nutcracker.

Festive Fine Dining

The Lanesborough – Hyde Park 

Famous for its elegant Christmas decor, lustrous tree and enchanted festive atmosphere, The Lanesborough provides real refinement for the season. The set festive menu offers a Michelin twist on the traditional with Scottish smoked salmon, turkey pie and chestnut cream fondant.

Vegetarian Yule

Percy & Founders – Fitzrovia

Although old style meat dishes are on the menu, vegetarians are well catered for this Christmas at Percy & Founders. Choose from roasted chestnut & celeriac soup and rainbow beetroot salad to start and winter vegetable tart with red cabbage and parsnip the stars. It’s just beyond Oxford Street, so you can enjoy restorative festive dining after a busy shopping day!

Cool Christmastide

Julie’s – Holland Park 

With its glamorous party atmosphere, this celeb favourite is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. So there’s even more of a joyous party vibe for those choosing to enjoy the Christmas lunch menu here. The restaurant has been recently refurbished, so its mix of elegant, cosy and private promises a pretty cool yule.  

The Gift of Experience

London Shell Co – Grand Union Canal, Paddington 

Take to the water this Christmas on either a canal dining cruise aboard the Price Regent, or at the permanently moored Grand Duchess. When Christmas is a time for joyful experiences (as well as feasting!) a celebratory dinner on the water ticks all the boxes. The Grand Duchess offers a private ‘Captain’s Table’ dining option for 10 with a ‘festive feasting’ menu. In the restaurant, seating just 40, there is a seasonal à la carte menu starring the finest Cornish seafood.

Seasonal Spice

Kanishka – Mayfair 

This restaurant from Michelin Star Chef Atul Kochhar boasts menus to create compelling flavour experiences. There are three menus – the ‘Jolly’, the ‘Merry’ and the ‘Festive Feast’. The first two offer seasonal twists on regional Indian dishes, while the latter is a full tasting menu. With festive cocktails and New Year’s bites, this is a great choice for socialising groups.

More than anything, the Christmas season in London is about joy, light and comfort. Whether you are working, Christmas shopping, seeing family or getting away from it all, a luxury serviced apartment makes a great festive base.

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