For many of us, Christmas is a joyful time to spend with loved ones, drink a silly amount of alcoholic tipples and gorge on exciting festive food.
Luckily for fervent foodies living in London, there are plenty of restaurants offering tempting Christmas and winter menus to turn those long dark nights into gastronomic dalliances to remember.
Here are some of our favourites….
This quintessentially English fine dining restaurant resides in the chic wooden confines of the elegant Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair.
I visited with a friend for a much-needed chinwag, yet all essential chatter was temporarily muted as divine dish after dish was placed before us, each one tasting more exquisite than the last.
Michelin starred chef Adam Byatt’s creations were tantalising to both our eyes and tastebuds – and our Instagram accounts admittedly.
We started our feast with a decadent plate of Ostra Regal oysters, which we generously doused in fresh lemon and red shallot vinegar.
Next to arrive regally at the table was a dashing dish of seared tuna with Christmassy clementine, charred cucumber and chilli – an almost otherworldly celebration of modern British gastronomy.
Our mains were a culinary homage to the sea and included a perfectly grilled dover sole smothered in flavoursome caper butter, and a fabulously flaky John Dory baked in seaweed butter, served with palourde clams, lemon and chilli.
A selection of fine wines and champagnes were served throughout the evening by Charlie’s head sommelier – each glass meticulously complimenting the food.
My friend indulged her sweet tooth at the end of the meal with a unspeakably rich dark chocolate fondant, whilst the thoughtful waiting staff presented me with a surprise bowl of berries after hearing about my party-pooping sugar detox.
Hidden discreetly within a quaint yet inconspicuous street between Waterloo and Southbank, resides the silently alluring Sticky Mango restaurant.
I was particularly keen to visit after reading the praises of The Sunday Times’ Marina O’Laughlin – “The food is so good, it’s a surprise to find that chef Peter Lloyd doesn’t hail from Kuala Lumpur.”
After a night spent dining on several exceptional Balinese dishes in this chic yet sultry London restaurant, I find myself thinking along the same lines as Marina.
Awarded Best Fusion at the 2019 Golden Chopstick Awards, Sticky Mango’s talented head chef expertly balances sweet, savoury and Unami flavours inspired from his exotic travels across South East Asia.
Lloyd has travelled extensively around Asia and his food is inspired by real experiences, whether that’s being invited into private homes in Indonesia to learn from home-cooks, or tasting and learning about the history and culture of South East Asian street food. He says: “Thanks to reading and travelling, I began to understand the cuisine and it opened up a whole new world of flavours – it was like a new beginning for me; like starting my career again. I started to understand the concept of Asian food and coupled with my experience as head chef at Spice Market, I put the two together to develop my own style.”
We savoured a steaming hot, lime infused chicken and coconut soup to start alongside fragrant chicken and shrimp nam rolls – accompanied by a zesty dipping sauce. Both dishes were blissful, yet left us wanting more.
Luckily a comforting dish of Massaman lamb shank was next brought to the table, smothered in a creamy curry sauce and surrounded by soft potatoes – the perfect dish for cold winter nights.
We left well fed, happy and mental planning our next visit.
Al throughout December, Mamounia Lounge, the Middle Eastern restaurant, cocktail bar and subterranean late-night den in the heart of Mayfair, has been serving an exotic Christmas menu guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit.
I went one evening with my Moroccan food-loving Moroccan other half to see what all the festive fuss was all about, and we loved every minute of our merry moorish experience.
A tempting selection of Moroccan and Lebanese mezze and main dishes were brought to the table one after the other – each more fabulous than the last.
We devoured a number of tasty sharing plates such as fattouch salad, lamb briouat, tasty halloumi cheese slices, crispy falafels and mini filo pastries stuffed with feta.
Our mains included a perfectly grilled fillet of sea bass perched on a bed of chargrilled asparagus -which I doused lovingly with fresh lemon.
My Morrocan’s lamb and prune tagine was a dashing concoction of slow cooked lamb, warming cinnamon and cumin merged with syrupy sweep apricots and prunes – which brought back enchanting memories from a recent trip to Marrakech.
Mamounia’s Christmas menu is ideal for for any festive event – from office parties to big family gatherings. Priced at £60 per person, it includes a champagne reception, followed by a three-course meal.
Just make sure you stay for the belly dancing and old school UK garage tunes courtesy of the resident weekend DJ – a nice touch Mamounia….
Just off Sloane Street resides the effortlessly chic Kutir restaurant, famed for its modern take on exceptional Indian cuisine.
This elegant London townhouse is styled in tasteful furnishings, and pleasing-to-the-eye artworks adorn the walls.
I was intrigued to visit this elegant London townhouse after learning that the head chef Rohit Ghai was a true culinary maverick – earning a Michelin star at renowned Indian restaurant Jamavar just one year after it opened.
The cocktail menu is exotic and tempting – perfect for celebrating the yuletide season with your favourite person before indulging in a fine dining feast fit for a maharaja.
I visited with a good friend for lunch on a chilly winter day, so the vast variety of warming, spiced sharing plates were greatly welcomed, as were the piping hot pots of fresh peppermint teas which we poured into gold trimmed crockery.
The aloo tikki – a crispy potato cake with tamarind and a mint chutney, was an Instagramers delight, arriving in a shamelessly flamboyant fashion, accompanied with a lavish dollop of honey yogurt.
The salmon tandoori tikka with dill raita and pickle was a mergence of traditional Indian flavours with a modern twist and the black cumin smothered lamb chops stunned us both into a hushed silence after just one taste.
We were even more impressed with the fenugreek infused, creamy chicken tikka masala, but it was the pan fried crispy sea bass fillet swimming like a rare piece of art in a thick coconut and tomato sauce which really stole the show for us that day.
An obscenely rich chocolate pudding residing by a row of mini banana fritters coaxed me into breaking my etherial post Christmas sugar detox, but it was worth every single bite.
My quest to discover London’s finest Indian food continued at the plush Baker Street restaurant Ooty – named after a picturesque resort town in the Western Ghats mountains in the Tamil Nadu region of India.
Famed for it’s modern take on South Indian gastronomy, this opulently furnished restaurant steers the diner away from traditional curries and instead celebrates the tasty dishes of the southern region.
The restaurant is a new venture from friends Aseela Goenka and Pooja Nayak, and the first solo project for revered chef Manmeet Singh Bali who trained with the prestigious Taj group of hotels in India.
Dishes such as the baked cod with gunpowder spices and the lamb rack served alongside a delightful blob of chilli jam and generous drizzle of beetroot vinaigrette transported our tastebuds to the sandy shores of Goa.
Exotic cocktails muddled with cardamon and rosewater complimented the fragrantly-spiced dishes and helped my dining partner and I delve even further into the Christmas spirit.
Our mains were a pleasurable dalliance of land and sea, with regal dishes served to us with exceptional presentation.
The Keralan lime lobster with bisque squid ink was a true culinary masterpiece, whilst the buttery soft lamb shank koora served with fragrant lemon and pine nut rice and plantain crisps could possibly tempt a few naughty vegans over to the “dark side”.
Main featured Image: Ooty