From Italian fine dining to rustic farmhouse fare… there’s a dazzling array of dining choices at Christmas.
The Corinthia hotel in Westminster is a new favourite of mine. It has a stunning bar, a state-of-the-art spa and an excellent restaurant, The Northall, which is one of the capital’s best hotel dining rooms. At the helm is Garry Hollihead, a man obsessed with the provenance of his ingredients and who is often up at the crack of dawn to meet suppliers delivering scallops from Scotland and oysters from the Thames estuary.
His Christmas lunch looks deceptively simple – Loch Var smoked salmon, capers, lemon and soda bread, free-range turkey, middle-white pork, with apple, cinnamon and raisin stuffing, followed by Christmas pudding, with frosted redcurrants and brandy Anglaise – but is a cookery masterclass.
For something different you could entertain clients in the splendour of the world’s most famous department store. Harrods has devised a fabulous pop-up space in its lower ground floor. Stelle Di Stelle is a temple to the best Italian cuisine and open until the end of January 2015. Each month a different multi-Michelin-starred chef from a top Italian restaurant will serve up a tasting menu for lunch or dinner with matching wines. During December it’s the turn of Giorgio Pinchiorri and Annie Féolde from the three-star Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.
A flavour-packed Christmas feast is promised which just may contain the pair’s award-winning dish caramelle, a two-colour ravioli-like pasta shaped like a sweet, and stuffed with aubergine and goat’s cheese.
At River Cottage HQ, a 17th-century farmhouse near Axminster, Devon, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall focuses on local produce. You’ll be taken to the house by tractor, where you’ll then toast the season with a drink in front of a roaring fire in a nearby yurt while munching canapés such as chorizo scotch egg, or Devon brie on rosemary crumpets, before settling down to a three-course festive feast.
The Milsom group of hotels and restaurants in Essex and Suffolk provides a range of intimate places to dine – and stay. A particular favourite is Maison Talbooth where you can stroll down the road (or take the courtesy car) to its restaurant Le Talbooth overlooking the river Stour at Dedham in Essex.
The three-course Christmas party menu includes starters such as celeriac velouté, main courses including fillet of brill and puds such as plum and almond cheesecake which, along with mince pies and coffee can be enjoyed in the private dining room for just £31 per person – amazing value for the festive party season.