Planning for Christmas lunch starts early. There’s the food to order, space to clear to store the turkey, double checking that you still have the giant roasting pan, the extras like crackers to get, a starter to decide on.
Then there is the day itself. Up at dawn to get the bird in the oven, working out how to get six pans on four hobs, the aperitif to chill…and the thought of all that washing up afterwards – most of it won’t go in the dishwasher.
Or you could eat out.
Not every food place opens on Christmas day, and those that do fill up quickly, so you will need to book. You can expect to pay a premium – both for the meal itself and the taxi back (unless you have a non-drinker in your party, of course).
But the joy of simply eating a meal prepared by somebody else, enjoying the traditional tastes then, at the end, just heading home for a snooze or family board game can make it all worthwhile.
Here are some options for those who live, or are staying, in London this Christmas.
Duck and Waffle 110 Bishopsgate EC2 4AY (02036407310), approximately £90 per head www.duckandwaffle.com
This Michelin Plated restaurant offers stunning views while you wait for your turkey to arrive. Situated on the fortieth flood or the Heron Tower in the City, this is a pricy place, but is well worth the expense if you want a real treat. It’s exciting menu (how about bacon wrapped dates for a starter?) is innovative and traditional at the same time, and it also offers a decent range of vegetarian options.
Cinnamon Soho 5 Kingly Street W1B 5PF (02074371664), approximately £50 per head www.cinnamonsoho.com
If you are breaking with tradition by eating out, how about going the whole way and celebrating with a Christmas Day Curry? Cod and crab meat with beetroot followed by pan seared goose breast both sound pretty good to me, taken from their latest menu. And rather than a Christmas pud that will sit listlessly in your stomach for the rest of the day, a nice light chocolate and cumin tart, with vanilla ice-cream sounds a great way to end your meal.
The Admiralty 66 Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DS (02079300066), from £32.95 per person
Looking out onto Trafalgar Square, this is London’s most central pub. Its Christmas menu includes Smoked Salmon, parsnip soup, pate or a goat’s cheese tart to start, before moving on to the traditional turkey.
Beef, salmon and vegetarian options are also available. The interestingly named black cab Christmas pud sounds like an unusual take on the traditional dessert, and if you do not have room for this, then there are chocolate based options as well. Or, for the price listed about, you could forsake one of the courses.
Whichever option you choose, the traditional Admiralty will help to transport you back to Dickensian Christmases. The only thing that the pub can’t guarantee is a fall of snow.
The Anchor, Bankside 34 Park Street, Southwark, London SE1 9EF (02074071577), prices from £20.99 (includes complimentary coffee and mince pie).
Fortunately, the plague pits on which the Anchor was built are no longer infectious, and Romans no longer bury their dead at the site. Nor, for that matter, is it any more referred to by locals as Dead Man’s Brewery – but it does still serve a good Christmas lunch.
As well as traditional Christmas Fayre, the pub also offers more modern twists, such as a festive burger and maple flavoured root vegetable soup. Overlooking the Thames, those living to the north of the River can walk off their feast with a walk across the nearby Millennium bridge.
Grazing Goat 6 New Quebec Street, W1H 7RQ (02077247243) – approximately £90 per head www.thegrazinggoat.co.uk
OK, it’s a bit dear for a pub, but the Grazing Goat is of the gastro variety – and it has a great name, which means a lot. It is a part of a small chain and is located in the select Portman Village.
Traditional fayre, perfectly cooked, can be varied with the addition of, for example, baked pear and honey cake to replace the usual Christmas Pudding.
The meal comes, as well, with a free glass of champagne.