As far as we’re concerned over here at Foodism, a Christmas meal shouldn’t be cooked unless it’s on Christmas day. In the lead-up, you should forgo all time in the kitchen in favour of dining out as much as your wallet will allow. It is, of course, silly season, and what better way to make the most of it than by getting as silly as possible?

It’s the perfect incongruity of Christmas that makes dining out over this time particularly special. It’s cold and rainy outside, but cosy and warm in this restaurant. It might be dark at 4:30pm, but that just leaves more time for you to enjoy the romance of an abundance of fairy lights. And while the raucousness of summer lingers in your mind, there’s red wine to be drunk and platefuls of indulgent food to be put away and years to be celebrated.

But above all, it’s the humble Christmas menu that entices us out of our warm, cosy beds, traipsing far and wide to hoover up all the classics – turkey and sprouts and all of the trimmings – alongside the more unique options and everything in between. After all, is it even the most wonderful time of the year if you haven’t gone up a dress size by the end of it all? We think not. From the much-anticipated Dishoom festive feasts, to gorgeous cuts of venison and plates piling with pasta, we’ve done the hard yards and rounded up the capital’s best Christmas menus for eating yourself into something of a food coma (but in, like, a festive way).

Toklas

1 Surrey Street, WC2R 2ND

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Toklas recently touched down in Covent Garden and has been lauded by the likes of Marina O’Loughlin, Jay Rayner and Tim Hayward for its approach to preparation, which lets the ingredients do much of the heavy lifting. Launched by the founders of Frieze, Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, they’ve taken over a massive ground floor section of 180 The Strand to create a paean to both art and modern British bistro fare, with a popular bakery thrown in for good measure. The restaurant will be serving a Christmas feasting menu from 22nd November until 23rd December and costs £65 a head, with dishes such as pheasant and pomegranate; braised chicken with wild mushroom, bay and balsamic, or chf Yohei Furuhashi’s famous strudel.

toklaslondon.com

Dishoom

Various locations

The Dishoom festive feasts are fairly infamous at this point. Every year, without fail, the group turns out some new and inventive takes on the Christmas classics. It’s perfect for those days when you simply cannot look at another pig in a blanket without wanting to go on a full blown wellness retreat. Designed around thaals (large plates), this year’s Festive Raan Feast includes the turkey raan (with a vegetarian option for our herbivorous friends) and sprouts with lime-chilli dressing, alongside menu favourites including grilled meats and biryani. Visiting for their infamous breakfast? Even the cult favourite bacon naan has been given a festive rework, adding brie and cranberry chilli chutney to the mix.

dishoom.com

Luca

88 St John Street, EC1M 4EH

The sibling to Isaac McHale’s two-Michelin-starred Clove Club, Luca is inarguably one of London’s most romantic restaurants, raising a well-formed eyebrow on Clerkenwell’s St John Street, whether in its sheltered terrace, intimate garden room, pasta room or dining room. For those that want to enjoy a festive season meal with tender touch, perhaps with someone special, Luca is a sure shot. Prepare to be transported to Italy with a buon natale celebration of the best produce and cooking, diving into the likes of pine-cured monkfish crudo with smoked cod’s roe and spiced clementines, braised Hereford ox cheek with brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and to finish, panettone bread and butter pudding. It’ll run you £155 per person.

luca.restaurant

The Laundry

374 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PL

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South London has been rewarded with a spate of excellent new restaurants recently, but there is something to be said for the tried and true spots that have a loyal following from around the city – like Kiwi restaurateur Melanie Brown's The Laundry, an all-day neighbourhood bistro, restaurant and wine shop which launched in, you guessed it, a laundry – a grand Edwardian washhouse to be precise. Harvey has put together a fabulous festive menu that is perhaps best enjoyed on The Laundry’s year-round, winterised, Parisian-style terrace, under the sumptuous embrace of a tartan blanket. Alongside seasonal cocktails, guests will be invited to tuck into hearty cold-weather fare such as pigs in blankets, black pudding croquettes, raclette tartiflette and slow-cooked beef cottage pie with bone marrow mash and rosemary.

thelaundrybrixton.com

Acme Fire Cult

Abbot Street, E8 3DP

Look, we are very aware that sitting outside might not seem like the natural choice around Christmas time, with temperatures plummeting and the threat of rain almost permanently imminent. But hear us out for a second: you’re sitting at Acme Fire Cult, the rain delicately pattering on the roof of their sprawling terrace. The fairy lights give the whole space a kind of preternatural glow, and the heaters warm your shoulders, cutting out any of the residual chill that claws outside. The fresh air soothes your festivity-addled brain; a christmas tree twinkles in the corner. You are happy. It’s Christmas! You have a reason to wear your favourite winter coat. Convinced yet? If our incredible wordsmith skills aren’t enough, then let the menu entice you: coal roast leeks with pistachio romesco, roasted Brussels sprouts with blueberry-ancho agrodolce, longhorn ox cheek with ‘Eccles cake’ glaze, pot roast chicken with vadouvan butter and creme fraiche, and that’s not even the half of it. See you there.

acmefirecult.com

Pastaio

Various locations

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There is something about the season of indulgence that seems fitting for consuming acres of Italian food. Huge plates of pasta, piles of charcuterie, boozy tiramisu – who said Christmas feasting had to be all dry turkey and sprouts? Pastaio are firmly leaning into this, with their festive specials. Expect to kick things off with ‘nduja devils on horseback, move onto the frankly illegal sounding black truffle and burrata fried sandwich, freshen things up with brussels sprouts with chestnut, pancetta and potato gnocchi and properly send things off with the venetian duck ragu. Got space after all that? The sharing panettone bread and butter pudding will ensure you’re rolling onto the tube.

pastaio.co.uk

Sarap

10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX

Are you reaching that point where if you have to eat another piece of turkey you’re going to poke your eye out? We feel you. When you’ve overloaded on the classics, it doesn’t mean your festive feasting has to be cast aside. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is where Sarap steps in. Chef Budgie Montoya has created a menu of menu favourites that bring festive elements into his bold flavours and exquisite take on modern Filipino cooking. Expect dishes like bistek tartare tartlet, sisig with soy cured egg yolk, r ellenong manok with glazed carrots and chicken jus and “Silvana” bombe alaska. Wash it all down with a Filipino rum cocktail or five.

saraplondon.com

Jikoni

19-21 Blandford Street, W1U 3DJ

Bright and airy with a palpable feminine touch, the dining room at Jikoni is the kind of space that leaves you feeling energised, no matter how long your lunch was, how late in the evening it is, or how much wine you’ve had along the way. It is, then, the perfect space for a long festive feast, one that carries on far past when it was meant to end, and encourages you to browse the Liberty Christmas shop afterwards. The festive menu at Jikoni is inspired by chef Ravinder Bhogal’s family recipes and personal Christmas traditions. The menu will feature an array of dishes that transcend cuisines and prescribed flavour profiles, like cacio e pepe sausage rolls, and native lobster moilee with lemon rice and coconut chutney.

jikonilondon.com

Manteca

49-51 Curtain Road, EC2A 3P

Live fire CVs united to pyrotechnic effect when David Carter (Smokestak) and Chris Leach (Pitt Cue, Kitty Fisher’s) joined forces to launch Manteca as a pop-up at 10 Heddon Street in Mayfair, and, following the concept’s untrammelled success, as a bricks-and-mortar establishment on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road. The nose-to-tail Italian eatery has launched a heavy-hitting tasting menu for £75 a head, playing the hits from big flavour pasta plates such as ​​strozzapreti alla norcina, pork sausage and black truffle to a choice of roast (porchetta, dexter sirloin, hereford lamb loin) with salumi potatoes, grilled greens and black cabbage salad. And, for the full Christmas experience, put a bow on the meal with a hefty slab of hazelnut tiramisu.

mantecarestaurant.co.uk

Native at Browns

Browns, 39 Brook Street, W1K 4JE

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The Christmas menu at Native at Browns was specifically billed to us as having “no turkey” which, honestly, sounds wonderful. Call it controversial, but the dry, often overcooked bird can ruin an otherwise wonderful meal. Famed for putting foraged ingredients front and centre, Native was a leader in the world of seasonal and locally sourced, prioritising these concepts before they were fashionable buzzwords. Its Christmas menu centres some stunning winter ingredients, with dishes like chalk stream trout with salt baked beetroot and hay cream and venison with burnt cauliflower and seaweed salsa verde. The best part? You’re perfectly located for a spot of post-meal Christmas shopping thanks to its position within Browns.

nativerestaurant.co.uk

Townsend

77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX

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Celebrating Christmas at an art gallery feels very Love Actually . While we can’t vouch for dark corners for doing… dark deeds, we can speak to the incredible food in an airy space that offers enviable proximity to one of the city’s best art collections. Food is seasonal with a decidedly festive twist, think partridge with braised red cabbage and bread sauce and thyme poached pears with chocolate sauce and hazelnuts. The series of menus available for both normal restaurant guests as well as Christmas events are also impressively affordable, with prices ranging from £30-45 a head.

townsendrestaurant.co.uk

Upstairs at Trinity

4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG

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We promise we’re not ardent turkey haters but…. The fact that the Upstairs at Trinity menu highlights goose rather than its decorated friend really is quite attractive. With a feasting menu designed for groups of four or more, it’s the perfect excuse to bundle up your friends, family and loved ones, head for a trot around Clapham Common and then pile around a table to feast on dishes like whole baked Vacherin Mont D’Or served with croutons, cornichons and pickles, roasted goose and, fittingly, goose fat roasted potatoes.

trinity-upstairs.co.uk

La Dame de Pic

Four Seasons Hotel, 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ

How would a Michelin star chef do Christmas? Find out for yourself at the decorated La Dame de Pic. Anne-Sophie Pic has designed a gorgeous menu that still adheres to the impeccable cooking that earned her two Michelin stars, but works in a few festive features to boot, like poulette de la cour d'armoise and Bûche de Noël, a French Christmas classic, reinvented by the restaurant’s pastry team and flavoured with Tahitian vanilla mousse, pink grapefruit and Damascus rose.

ladamedepiclondon.co.uk

Darby’s

3 Viaduct Garden, SW11 7AY

Ah, the Big Apple at Christmas. Pop culture has rhapsodised about the festive season in New York for time immemorial – twinkling lights, snow on the ground, romantic ice rinks, strolls through Central Park with piping hot cups of hot cocoa. While a ticket over there might not be in your Christmas stocking this year, you can do the next best thing and head to Darby’s, Robin Gill’s New York-style restaurant in the viaduct gardens. His vibrant festive menus feature a whopper of a main course: whole roasted Aylesbury duck. Just make sure to leave space for the Virunga chocolate crémeaux with Guinness ice cream.

darbys-london.com

Corrigan’s Mayfair

28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH

Firmly back on British shores, bring a dose of glamour to your Christmas meals with a table at Corrigan’s in Mayfair. Richard Corrigan’s captivating restaurant serves as the stage for his impeccable cooking that firmly centres produce and ingredients from the British Isles. Expect a menu that flits with ease between impeccable fish dishes with the finest seafood from around the country, hearty game dishes and desserts that leave everything on an impeccable note.

corrigansmayfair.co.uk

Fallow

52 Haymarket, SW1Y 4RP

Have you got eight friends you’re looking to take for a Christmas meal? We can’t relate, as we don’t even know that many people, let alone like them enough to spend a whole meal together. But if you are popular enough to be in that lofty position, then Fallow has you covered. Designed for 9 or more people, its festive menu leans heavily on the classics but with an exceptional Fallow twist, featuring stuffing flatbread with caramelised onion, apple and sage and quite possibly the best pigs in blankets you’ll ever have.

fallowrestaurant.com

Fifth Floor Cafe at Harvey Nichols

109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ

Fancy a refuel while ticking off your Christmas shopping? You won't even need to leave the building for this one. The Fifth Floor Cafe at Harvey Nichs has a whipped up a lovely, festive three-course menu. For £36, including a glass of prosecco, you'll get three courses from a menu that includes dishes like mushroom pate with pickled mushrooms served with cornichons and seeded sourdough and turkey breast with Brussels sprouts, white cabbage and chestnuts and a range of yuletide desserts. Toast to a successful shopping day and put your feet up for a well-earned break.

harveynichols.com

Smokestak

35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB

While American BBQ might not exactly scream festivities, Smokestak has pulled it out of the bag with its festive menu this year. Managing to work some Christmas classics into the mix – mulled wine, mainly – the two menus, one priced at £50, the other at £65, give everything a firmly American twist. So while, yes, your meal may still include a centrepiece and somer roast veg on the side, that meat will be brisket that's been slowly cooked for the better part of a day, and those vegetables will be honey and thyme roasted and the whole thing will have been preceded by a procession of snacks that will easily knock your socks off.

smokestak.co.uk

The Blues Kitchen

Various locations

Blues Kitchen Christmas Burger

While OG American-inspired smokehouse and nightlife group The Blues Kitchen isn't doing a Christmas menu per se this year (Thanksgiving is often the one the restaurants pull out all the stops for when it comes to holiday-inspired, whole-table feasting), you can find a seasonal burger there that's pretty much a whole meal in and of itself. The good thing is that the Yippee-Ki-Yay burger – named, if it's not immediately clear, for Bruce Willis's catchphrase in the Christmas movie of all Christmas movies – doesn't try to squeeze a whole Christmas dinner into a bun. Instead, a panko-crusted turkey breast is laden with pork stuffing, plus carrot purée and celeriac rémoulade for a bit of crunch and balance. "Do I sound like I'm orderin' a pizza?" Not with this instant classic on offer, you don't.

theblueskitchen.com