Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
We’ve got a lot of time for a traditional Christmas dinner – we’re talking turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, sprouts and potatoes piled up to the ceiling.
But over the holidays you can often find yourself going out for so many roasts that you practically turn into a Yorkshire Pudding.
So, why not mix it up when you head out with your mates to celebrate the holidays this year?
It’s not even Christmas yet and we’re already sick of turkey (Credit: Alamy)
After all, Christmas food varies drastically around the world, and there are tonnes of restaurants across the UK showcasing alternative festive grub in all its glory.
From Caribbean tasting menus to Sri Lankan feasts, to an upscale Italian food with a Christmassy twist, across the UK, you don’t need to rely on spuds and gravy to get in the Yuletide spirit.
Here’s a selection some of the best alternative festive menus on offer:
Cin Cin (Hove, London)
Cin Cin offers pasta and burrata on its Italian Christmas menu (Credit: Instagram/ Cin Cin)
Who could say no to Christmas pasta? With restaurants in Hove and London’s Fitzrovia, Cin Cin is an Italian joint with a hell of a reputation, and it has an array of Christmas set menus to choose from, whether you want lunch, dinner or a five course tasting menu.
Say goodbye to pigs in blankets and hello to burrata topped with sprouts and a chestnut caponata, and ditch the turkey in favour of sweet potato tortellini with truffle butter and sage.
A three course Christmas lunch menu will cost £35, a mid-afternoon three course Christmas dinner will set you back £50 and the five course dinner menu will cost £60, and see the addition of focaccia, antipasti and a roasted venison, with all the sides, Prosecco and Limoncello.
Visit this eatery for a festive feast that would please any Italian Nonna – the menu is running until the New Year.
The Prince Regent (London)
The Prince Regent is offering up seafood this Christmas (Credit: Instagram/ London Shell Co)
Fancy a Christmas meal on the water?
From London Shell Co, The Prince Regent offers a Christmas menu made up of delicious British seafood sourced from Cornwall, to be tucked into whilst journeying along the Regents Canal in Central London.
The menu still includes nods to the holiday season: there’s a Cornish cod served with Savoy cabbage, chestnuts, guanciale and sage and a Somerset brandy baba with raisins and Chantilly cream.
On the steeper side, this menu sits at £65 per person, and is available throughout December. But considering you get a boat trip thrown in for good measure, we’d say it’s definitely worth considering if you feel like doing something a little different for your Christmas celebrations.
Wahaca (London, Wales, Edinburgh, Brighton)
Wahaca’s festive menu includes a turkey taquito (Credit: Wahaca)
Wahaca’s Christmas menu is a true Mexican feast.
The UK-wide high-street chain, co-founded by Masterchef winner, Thomasina Miers, offers a series of tacos and small plates inspired by flavours of the holidays, but given a Mexican twist.
Highlights include a turkey taquito, pork pilbil tacos, an organic squash and crumbled feta tostada and a mince pie empanada with brandy butter ice cream.
This is relatively affordable, as far as Christmas menus go. The offering is for two or more people to share, and starts at £25 per person, running up until December 31st.
Dishoom (London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham)
Some features Christmas menu (Credit: Instagram – Dishoom/ Dishoom Mcr)
We don’t need to tell you about the appeal of Dishoom – the queues outside all eight of its restaurants speak for themselves.
Dishoom’s Christmas menu aims to bring people together with a selection of large Thaals (dishes stacked with sharing plates).
The Indian restaurant chain offers up some of its best loved dishes, including the house black daal, but also adds some Christmassy options into the mix. Don’t miss the turkey raan – which is a whole leg of turkey, slow cooked until falling off the bone (oh, and have no fear veggies, there’s also a vegan version of this, made with soy pieces).
The Christmas feast is on offer for £39 per person, and is available for groups of four or more from 22nd November to 24th December.
Hoppers is offering up a Sri Lankan Christmas menu (Credit: Hoppers)
Sri Lankan restaurant chain Hoppers, from Gymkhana founders, Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi, is also offering a set menu with a Christmas twist, and a bunch of festive cocktails to boot.
Options includes devilled pheasant breast, venison with cranberry kothu roti and a mince pie love cake, whilst you can sip on a sunset spice milk punch, made of rum, cardamon, cinnamon, pineapple and spiced jaggery (sugar) and Sri Lankan black tea.
With three sites across London, in Marylebone, Kings Cross and Soho, Hoppers has developed somewhat of a cult fanbase since it launched in 2015, so we’d suggest booking swiftly to avoid disappointment.
At £49 per person, this festive feast runs through December right up until Christmas, and promises to be seriously special.
Esmie’s in Coventry offers up seriously more-ish Caribbean fare (Credit: Instagram/ Esmie’s)
Esmie’s may look like a casual, low key Caribbean restaurant in Coventry, but its Christmas menu sounds like a party.
On December 17th, the restaurant is throwing a one hour bottomless rum punch reggae party, with live music, games and a three course meal, too (check out a preview of how fun it looks here…)
There’s a pumpkin soup for starter, followed by either jerk turkey, Caribbean spiced salmon or a seitan roast – and if that hasn’t lured you in, we can bet the rum mince pie creme brûlée will do the job.
Who wants a traditional British Christmas dinner when there’s bottomless rum and jerk turkey? You can get involved for £30 a head on the 17th, or enquire about booking the menu on a different date for your Christmas party (£19.50 for two courses or £24.50 for three), right up until the New Year.
Chez Jules (Edinburgh)
Chez Jules at Christmas (Credit: Instagram/ Chez Jules)
Fancy going French this Christmas? Well if you’re in Edinburgh then head down to Chez Jules for an affordable festive menu, which doesn’t scrimp on flavour.
The French Bistro is well loved by locals and offers up a menu akin to that you’d find when wondering the streets of Paris. As far as the grub goes, you can pick from fish soup with gruyere cheese croutons, a pork terrine with onion chutney or a smoked salmon salad, served with prawns in a Marie Rose sauce.
If you’re here with a mate who is less keen to break from tradition, then there’s a roast turkey with all the trimmings for them, too. Win, win.
Two courses will cost £15.90, and will be available from the 1st to the 31st December over lunch times – excluding Christmas Day.
Mamasan (Liverpool, Glasgow)
Mamasan boasts a South-Asian Christmas menu (Credit: Instagram/ Mamasan)
With restaurants in Liverpool and Glasgow, Mamasan has a tried and tested formula. It uses local ingredients and turns them into extremely yummy South East Asian grub – and their Christmas menu is no different.
Served in a casual brasserie setting, the restaurants offer a three course set meal, featuring a 24 hour slow roasted Iberico pork char sui, roasted peach massaman curry or a coal roasted baby chicken satay to choose from.
The set menu will set you back £40, and you can add a welcome glass of Prosecco for an extra fiver.
Bookings start from 18th November, and run throughout Christmas (minus Christmas Day). Make sure you check out their cocktails, whilst you’re there!
Ottoman Kitchen (Southampton)
A selection of Ottoman Kitchen’s hot starters (Credit: Instagram/ Ottoman Kitchen Southampton)
Southhampton’s award winning Ottoman Kitchen is another festive alternative if you want to get in the spirit but shun the bog-standard roast.
You’ll be welcomed with a Turkish delight and a cocktail, as well as bread and dips before tucking into a mezze course, with the stuffed vine leaves, spinach and feta parcels and Sucuk (Turkish sausage) on offer.
For main course, there’s a sharing plate with rice, salad and everything you’d want from a Turkish spread, really – we’re talking chicken shish, falafel, grilled halloumi and lamb.
This menu will set you back £32.95 when ordered on Sunday-Thursday and £36.95 when ordered on a Friday or Saturday, and it’s available now until the end of the holidays.