Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Don’t get us wrong, we love turkey, stuffing and pigs in blankets as much as the next person.
But in December, it can sometimes feel like that’s all we’re eating, with work Christmas meals, multiple ‘Friendmas’ dinners and even lunch-time Christmas sandwiches packed full of the same indulgent ingredients.
By the time Christmas Day arrives, we’re often so full of potatoes and sprouts that we can barely look at another roast dinner. That’s why this year, we’re shunning the the traditional festive meals in the run up to the Big Day, and instead opting for one of the alternative Christmas dinner menus London has to offer.
After all, with festive food varying drastically around the world, there’s no reason we have to stick to spuds and gravy to get in the Yuletide spirit.
From vegan Christmas menus to Italian festive spreads to incredible Sri Lankan feasts, there are loads of restaurants proving that Christmas food comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
Of course, you’ll find similar menus all around the UK, but if you need some inspo, here are a selection some of the best Christmas menus London has to offer…
Mr Bao, Peckham
Mr Bao’s Christmas menu puts an Asian twist on Christmas flavours (Credit: Mr Bao)
Mr Bao in Peckham offers a Taiwanese twist on the classic Christmas menu, with the flavours you’d expect from the holidays but in the form of an Asian spread.
With many menu items priced at under a fiver, you can expect the likes of a prawn cocktail bao bun (featuring a giant panko fried prawn in sriracha Marie Rose sauce), Sichuan hot and spicy sprouts and a clementine pavlova.
No, there may not be gravy drenched potatoes here, but there are sweet potato fries with wasabi mayo – quite a lovely alternative, if you ask us.
If you are closer to Mr Bao’s Tooting sister restaurant, Daddy Bao, you can also head there for a full Crimbo menu, featuring the likes of chicken dumplings with crispy chilli oil, a turkey kiev bao and a nut roast bao if you’re veggie. The menu starts at £30 and comes with six festive specials, as well as a Christmas cocktail.
Acme Fire Cult, Dalston
Acme Fire Cult brings a bit of BBQ to the holidays (Credit: Acme Fire Cult)
Acme Fire Cult promises a family style spread without any of the drama.
Luxurious, meaty and with a huge punch of flavour, these guys are all about brilliantly barbecued food, and are one of the city’s most innovative live fire concepts.
From chefs Andrew Clarke & Daniel Watkins, the menu includes a selection of festive small plates, including focaccia with Marmite butter and Pecorino and brussels sprouts and kale with a sourdough miso Caesar.
For mains, there’s a choice of BBQ chicken, lamb, beef or tandoori celeriac all with their own accompaniments, and alongside some roasties (naturally) and BBQ greens.
Prices start at £60 and range up to £90 for this one, but you get a lot of food for your buck, and a truly unique take on Christmas flavours that’ll probably far outdoor your family roast (sorry mum).
Pasta for Christmas? Pastaio have you covered (Credit: Pastaio)
Pasta for Christmas? We’ll eat pasta any time of year, tbh.
Pastaio have a Christmas menu at a very reasonable £30, which offers up three courses of Italian goodness to see in the holidays.
Expect festive ingredients to be woven into dishes you might expect from a quintessential Italian spread – we’re talking roasted squash with red cabbage and even brussels sprout gnocchi. They finish up with tiramisu, because it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?
If you’re looking to go all out, there are some pricier festive menus at both £42 and £60 offering a little more to choose from. In fact, the latter also includes half a bottle of wine per person alongside an appertivo and nibbles.
Dishoom’s Indian feasting menu is pretty darn special (Credit: Dishoom)
Dishoom is one of London’s most exciting Indian restaurants, and its Christmas menu lives up to the hype.
There are lots of their classics on there, including their okra fries, gunpowder potatoes, jackfruit biryani and chicken ruby curry (if it aint broke, don’t fix it).
However, there are some injections of festivity, too. Stick around for the turkey raan with all the trimmings, which is a whole turkey leg cooked slowly until it’s tender and served with broccoli, sprouts and cranberry chutney.
There are also veggie and vegan menus available depending on your dietary requirements, and prices start at £42. Wash everything down with a festive bevvy and you’re in business.
This is one to brave Dishoom’s famous queue for…
Speedboat Bar, Soho
Speedboat Bar offers a Thai Christmas spread in Chinatown (Credit: Speedboat Bar)
Chinatown’s Speedboat Bar has a Thai festive menu that’ll add some spice into what is otherwise quite a beige season.
Starting at £50 per person, the menu begins with Thai sweetcorn cakes and oysters with smoky nam prik pao chilli jam and a seafood sauce.
Then there’s a prawn chu chee curry with whole king prawns and a lot of sides, including Chinese broccoli, chestnut, and shitake mushrooms.
And for the main event? Khao moo – aka soy sauce braised pork hocks with cassia and star anise. Oooft.
If this is what a Thai take on Christmas dinner looks like, we’re sold.
Dinner For One Hundred, Bloomsbury
Dinner For One Hundred are offering bottomless pizza. Yes, bottomless (Credit: D4100)
Friends of Twisted, Dinner For One Hundred, might have sold out of party spots at their D4100 bar in South-East London, but they’re also serving a festive spread at The Perseverance pub in Bloomsbury, where they man the kitchen.
They’re offering what they do best – pizza – but with a Christmas twist, (obvs). There’s a brussels sprout and pigs in blanket pizza, a pizza bianca with roasted pumpkin, hot honey and creme fraiche and a plant-based beetroot pizza, too.
The best part? It’s all you can eat for £35. Wash everything down with a side of carrots, sausages and salads, and then finish off with a slab of tiramisu (they’re renowned for their take on this Italian dessert, so don’t miss it).
Anyone for a Christmas pizza party!?
Hoppers offer a massive Sri Lankan festive spread (Credit: Hoppers)
Hoppers is offering up a Sri Lankan Christmas menu across its London outposts and it sounds pretty darn lovely.
Starting at £45, their festive menus come veggie or meaty as you so desire, and include the likes of hot butter chilli paneer, breadfruit or aubergine kari (curry) and as many hoppers, dosa and portions of rice as you can muster.
There are some holiday flavours in there, too, such as their venison roll and cranberry ketchup and their crown jewel kari and lamb kothu. Overall, though, this one’s less about cramming in Christmas notes and more about a really, really good curry spread.
We’re sure you’ll agree, that’s something we can get very on board with over the holidays (or whenever, tbh).
Casa do Frango, Various
Casa do Frango put their own spin on a Christmas bird (Credit: Casa do Frango)
Casa do Frango (aka fancy Nando’s), has a Christmas feast menu for larger groups, featuring wintry cocktails, sharing plates and – of course – *chicken*.
These guys are all about Piri-Piri done well, and their Portuguese menu offers everything from fire roasted green veg, salted cod fritters with roasted potatoes and grilled chorizo served with black olive mayo.
The main event is half a chicken grilled over wood charcoal, brushed with spices and either oregano or lemon and garlic.
Expect sides like Hispi slaw and spicy rice with chicken skin and plantain, and finish with almond cake – which is a traditional Portuguese dessert.
Everything is served to share,a nd costs £35 over lunch and £40 over dinner.
Miznon has branches in Soho and Notting Hill (Credit: Miznon)
Miznon puts a delightfully fun spin on the Christmas menu, offering Middle Eastern mezze vibes. It’s a far cry from your usual roast, but we aint complaining.
You can opt for a falafel or lamb kebab ‘feast’, which come alongside hummus, roasted tomatoes and salad. Then, everyone gets a filled pitta too – so you’d better be hungry.
You can stuff yours with all sorts, from fish ‘n’ chips (aka, grilled fish, crunchy potatoes, pickle and aioli), to cauliflower (with tahini, diced tomatoes and red onion with a spicy salsa). There’s a crispy chicken zaatar and spring onion pitta too (with plenty of aioli for good measure), and if those aren’t your jam there are plenty of other fillings like falafel and mushrooms.
The table will also get some veg to share, like a roasted cauliflower and a ‘bag ‘o’ green beans,’ which are shaken with an olive oil, lemon and garlic vinaigrette. The dessert will vary daily, and the whole thing will come to 40 quid, with the option of an extra glass of champers for £8.
Oh, and pssst, if you’re not after a whole menu but just wanna pop in for a bite, they also have a festive pitta, inspired by a salmon blini and stuffed with potatoes, sour cream, spring onions and topped with salmon roe. Jazzy, eh? It costs £16 and is available now.
Friendmas just got an upgrade (Credit: Alamy)So, there you have it. There are copious places to celebrate an alternative Christmas dinner in London this year, meaning you can save the roast until Christmas Day.
Whether you’re after a cheap Christmas set menu with incredible flavours, a spicy holiday curry or a bunch of pasta dishes to bring some Yultide joy, there’s bound to be somewhere that tickles your fancy.
Use this guide as a starting point, but by all means have a search and see what else is out there. The main point is that a Christmas dinner menu is truly what you make of it – leave the turkey at home and a whole world of possibilities await.