WITH DECEMBER well and truly under way, it’s officially that time of year where your favourite eateries trade in their usual menus for something more festive. This season bars, restaurants and pubs are pulling out all the stops as far as their dishes are concerned so whether you’re after something traditional or want a modern, creative take on the classics, you’re spoilt for choice. Here are our four of the best...
1. The new spin on a classic: Coq d'Argent
Coq d'Argent, the traditional, high-end French restaurant in the City, may not seem like the obvious place for festive fun. But hot cocktails, mulled wine (including more ingredients than you can shake a candy cane at), fairy lights and blankets all bring a little bit of Narnia escapism to the City. The Winter Terrace can accommodate up to 100 people, with groups of 25 - 45 on a semi-private basis.
The menu is the same classic fare we’re used to — this is still Coq d’Argent, no matter how many pretty lights they put up — with head chef Mickael Weiss cooking up contemporary takes on French classics. The seared scallop and crispy pork belly on ink and chorizo risotto is every bit as delicious as it sounds, and the venison (parsnip puree, glazed baby carrot and Amaretto sauce) melts in the mouth — just try to forget you’re munching on a distant cousin of Rudolph.
Cost for two people with a glass of mulled wine: £110. To book, call: 020 7395 5000
2. The best of both worlds: The Babylon Restaurant
The Babylon restaurant housed at the Kensington Roof Garden has managed to do something fresh and interesting, without moving too far from the traditional Christmas menu that we all know and love.
The main course, for example, features a turkey steak teamed with a pork and chestnut stuffing bon bon, smoked bacon chipolata sausage and turkey jus with all the classic trimmings. The other courses have a more modern twist. For a starter you can choose between a mini goats cheese fritter with beetroot and apple purée or a warming and luxurious risotto dish finished off perfectly with truffle oil. And the desert is just as interesting. The traditional Christmas pudding comes in a frozen parfait with bailey custard and chestnut Chantilly crème.
Cost for two people with wine: £110. To book, call: 020 7368 3993
3. The winter warmer: The White Swan
For a warm and hearty winter meal, The White Swan is the place to be. Tom and Ed Martin’s Fetter Lane favourite has created a Christmas menu worthy of being on offer all year round.
The three-course menu starts with a glass of Kentish sparkling wine, quickly followed by a choice between Yorkshire venison terrine with an apple and juniper chutney on toast or a king prawn and leek gratin. The mains are equally as appealing. The pub has ditched turkey altogether, offering a choice of Herdwick lamb with black pudding stuffing and dauphinoise potatoes, or a pan fried fillet of Atlantic cod. With Christmas pudding served with brandy custard for desert, this is definitely a winning menu.
Cost for two people with wine: £110. To book, call: 020 7242 9696
4. The unconventional take: The Painted Heron
If you’re looking for something completely different, The Painted Heron is a good way to go. Opened in 2002 by head chef Yogesh Datta, the restaurant has gained a reputation for producing a modern interpretation of Indian cuisine and the same is true for its take on festive dining.
Its Christmas menu is one of the most extensive available and taps into the staple dishes but in a loose way. Roasted goose and pheasant replace turkey and the menu features traditional Indians dishes like a creamed cauliflower korma curry and freshly baked tandoori breads.
Cost for two people for five courses with wine: £195.
To book, call: 020 7351 5232