Now, here at Secret London, we love a roast dinner. More so during the festive season when the traditional pubs beckon us in from the cold, wet streets with fluffy potatoes, juicy meat and oodles of gravy. However, if you’ve had your fill of roast dinners this year, we don’t judge. In fact, we support you; there’s no better time to expand your holiday season food repertoire and branch out with alternative festive menus in London than this Christmas. From food of different cultures to afternoon teas and bottomless brunches, here’s some of the best alternative Christmas menus on offer in London over the next few weeks.
1. Sarap, West End
A feast awaits at Sarap, who have created a sensational six-course menu for the festive season, showcasing a modern interpretation of Filipino and British cuisine. Available from now until the end of December, the dishes span snacks, starters, fish, meat and dessert, using authentic Filipino flavours in a new way. Groups of six or more can opt for the signature whole roasted lechon suckling pig for their meat course, which is a traditional centrepiece of any Filipino Christmas dinner.
We visited Sarap and here’s what we thought: the staff are so friendly at this spot just off of Oxford Street, and they really take the time and care to explain exactly what you’re eating and drinking. Our favourite course was the sisig (pork cooked three ways), served with a soy-cured egg yolk – it was melt-in-your-mouth soft – but the crab raviolo with aligue bisque, and the Silvana bombe alaska dessert, were both close seconds. Flavour and friendliness are king here.
2. Hoppers, multiple locations
The Christmas spread at the Sri Lankan spot Hoppers is super indulgent and features favourites from the restaurant’s menu with a seasonal twist. Expect flavoursome dishes like jaffna crab kari, with cranberry hot sauce, and spicy bread pudding. Much like Sarap above, groups of six diners or more can benefit from a special bumper option: this time roti with bone marrow varuval, hoppers and dosas, and the option to add a whole roast lamb shoulder for just an additional £5pp. You’ll find Hoppers’ outposts in Soho, Marylebone or Kings Cross.
Price: £42pp for standard Christmas menu; £48pp for bumper option, available to groups of six or more only.
Lunchtimes just got all the more exciting! Tuesday to Friday every week until the end of December, Bunga Bunga is hosting a raucously fun and festive four-hour lunch. Bring it on! Expect a half-metre- or metre-long pizza with all the trimmings to share, plus a whole host of live entertainment as you feast. Christmas singalongs and cool cocktails for available purchase too – what more could you want?
4. Tonkotsu, multiple locations
Ramen house Tonkotsu have unveiled their Christmas offering for the year and it has us all hot under the collar: a Christmas-spiced duck leg ramen. The Christmas ramen is created using a chicken broth and sea salt base, topped with a Christmas-spiced glazed duck leg, rainbow chard, spring onions and half a seasoned egg. It’ll warm our cold winter hearts right up. Opt to pair with the limited edition Japanese gin martini, and a starter and dessert from the regular menu. You’ll find Tonkotsu’s outposts on in Bankside, Battersea, Ealing, Finsbury Park, Kentish Town, Notting Hill, Peckham, Shoreditch, Soho, Stratford and Walthamstow.
Price: £27.50pp for a limited-edition Japanese gin martini and the three-course festive menu.
5. Osteria Mbare, Clapham
If you’ve got a group of eight or more together – hello, team lunch – and fancy one of London alternative Christmas menus, make a beeline for Osteria Mbare this month. They’ve two festive menus to keep the whole gang happy: a selection of tasty starters, a pasta course, a filling meat course with seasonal sides, and zingy dessert. There’s nothing like the flavour of limoncello to transport you to Italy, right?
Price: £45pp or £60pp, depending on your menu of choice.
6. Bar Duoro, multiple locations
Serving up a slice of Portugal in London Bridge or The City, Bar Douro will have not one, but two, festive sharing menus to choose from this season. The first menu features some of the wine bar and restaurant’s best loved dishes, like pork neck in bifana sauce, and beef cheeks with cauliflower. The second menu is specifically inspired by the Bairrada region, a verdant wine region in central Portugal. This menu includes suckling pig rissoles, salt cod hash, and garlic prawns. Both menus are rounded off with the iconic pastel de nata (custard tart) and cinnamon ice cream.
Price: £40pp for festive sharing menu; £60pp for the festive Bairrada menu.
7. Wahaca, multiple locations
If you’re after cheap, cheerful and hella tasty, Wahaca is where it’s at. Combining the traditional British roast dinner flavours with Mexican flair, they’ll be serving up wonders like mince pie empanadas, turkey taquitos, and roast dinner filled tortillas, with sweet hibiscus salsa, fresh tomatillo guacamole and crema. These dishes will be served separately, or you can opt for the Festive Feast or Veggie Feast menus, which see two regular menu tacos joined by the Christmas taquito and empanadas. You can find Wahaca outposts in Stratford, Southbank, Islington, Wimbledon, Canary Wharf, Oxford Circus, White City, Waterloo, Shoreditch and Covent Garden.
Price: £25pp for the Festive Feast menus; less than £10 per item for individual dishes.
8. The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
Set in a Victorian library, fine dining Indian restaurant The Cinnamon Club offers a four-course Christmas feast that redefines traditional Indian cooking with modern techniques. Does the sound of char-grilled Obsiblue king prawns, served in Keralan seafood bisque, or clove roast goose breast, served with sesame tamarind sauce, tickle your fancy? The indulgent meal is rounded off with the chef and founder’s famed garam masala Christmas pudding.
9. Spaghetti House, multiple locations
Italian eatery Spaghetti House have revealed a three-course menu, pizza and selection of cocktails specifically for the Christmas period. The feasting menu includes an array of delights, such a mixed selection of antipasti, pasta, Tacchino farcito (a roast turkey wrapped in pancetta), and traditional panettone cake. Then there’s the special Pizza Natale, which boasts tomato, mozzarella, Italian sausage, goat cheese, roast turkey, watercress, and cranberry sauce atop the home-made base. All can be washed down by a selection of tasty cocktails created using Italian ingredients and liquors. You can find Spaghetti House outposts on Kensington High Street, just off Oxford Street, on Goodge Street, and near Marble Arch.
Price: £15.75 for the festive pizza; £28.95pp for the three-course menu.
10. Korean Dinner Party, Soho
Fried chicken fiends, unite! Korean Dinner Party‘s festive feasting menus have arrived and they champion fried chicken (or fried cauliflower for veggies and vegans). Indulge in the likes of sharing buckets of fried chicken and fried cauliflower; bubbling mac and cheese; Korean corn dogs; slow-roasted pork shoulder; oysters; and beef tartare. The KDP team have also put their own spin on the tradition Hot Toddy: the Soju Citron Hot Toddy, made with grapefruit soju (a Korean spirit made from rice, barley and tapioca).
Price: £32pp for the KFC Korean Fried Chicken menu; £42pp for the K-Town Kristmas menu.
11. Bökan, Canary Wharf
Rooftop restaurant Bökan brings together flavours from all over Europe to create a range of delicious menus; depending on how you want to celebrate, opt for two, three or seven (!!) courses this Christmas. The luxe menus include chestnut soup with Alsace bacon; poached squat lobster with winter caviar; venison with queen pear and ginger spices; and much more. Desserts are sweet; Buche de Noel with gingerbread ice cream, anyone?
Price: £49pp for two-course meal; £59pp for three-course meal; and £99pp for seven-course meal.
12. Aquavit, St James
Until Christmas Eve, feast on a traditional Scandinavian Julbord with your loved ones at Nordic-inspired Aquavit. The sharing feast features a range of starters, mains and desserts, including (but not limited to) breaded ham and homemade mustard; a trio of pickled herrings; classic Swedish meatballs, Prinskorv sausage and braised short ribs; Swedish petit fours; and a selection of cheeses with cloudberry crackers. And breaaaaathe. For larger groups and Christmas parties, you can book one of Aquavit’s two private dining rooms, should you wish.
13. Daddy Bao, Tooting
Treat yourself to Taiwanese cuisine this Crimbo at Daddy Bao. Two bao buns per person (it’s in the name, after all) await – we’re talking duck bao and pigs in blankets bao, mmmm – plus a spread of seasonal veg and meat dishes. Be sure to give the five spice mince pie gyoza, served with Shaoxing cream, a go. Veggie and vegan options are also available. The restaurant have also created a special mulled sake for the season.
Price: £25pp for veggie/vegan menu; £28pp for regular festive menu.
14. Norma, Fitzrovia
Sample Sicilian fine dining in Fitzrovia this month with a trip to Norma, who are offering one of the many alternative Christmas menus in London. Highlights of the bountiful set menus include Rigatoni with delica pumpkin, walnuts, panrattato and taleggio; and slow cooked spiced lamb shoulder, with cime di rapa… mmm. To really up the ante, you can opt to dine in the restaurant’s top-floor private dining room, Etna, which seats up to 14 people.
Price: £65pp, £75pp, or £100pp, depending on your menu choice.
15. Gymkhana, Mayfair
What better time to be boujie as hell, and treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal, than at Christmas? Gymkhana in Mayfair offers a tantalising tasting menu of Indian dishes that champion some of their signature dishes (such as chicken butter masala and muntjac biryani), plus some seasonal specials. The latter of these include gilafi turkey seekh kebab and gilafi quail seekh kebab. A fabulous vegetarian menu is also available.
Price: £100pp for vegetarian tasting menu; £110pp for the Michelin-starred festive tasting menu.
16. De Nadas Empanadas, Notting Hill
Buenos Aires-inspired bakery De Nadas Empanadas have created something a little special for this Christmas. The capital’s first empanadería has launched a Brussel sprouts empanada. Yep, you read that right! Available for eat in or takeaway at the spot on Golborne Road, the Brusselnada features slow-roasted Brussel sprouts, melted goats’ cheese and caramelised onions, plus crispy bacon if you wish, encased in a baked Argentinian dough.
Price: £3.50 for one; £9.50 for three; £18 for six; £32 for 12.
Don’t fancy a big meal? How about a festive afternoon tea or Christmas brunch instead?
Sweet treats and bountiful booze in London make for great alternative Christmas menus.
Bottomless brunch, but make it festive. Proud Cabaret City will host a Vocal House: Christmas Brunch on Saturday, December 3. Indulge in an hour of bottomless cocktails and a two-course brunch as live acts take to the stage to serenade you.
Price: £90 for a table of two.
The 90s birthed a lot of great things, including this writer and some fabulous Christmas tunes. Celebrate the latter at Fire Vauxhall on Saturday, December 3, with a fabulous festive 90s Christmas brunch. As you feast on international brunch dishes, and glug 60 minutes of free-flowing drinks, you’ll be encouraged to sing your heart out to Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and more.
Price: £89.98 for a table of two.
19. The Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair
Five-star The Beaumont Hotel serves up divine transatlantic-inspired afternoon teas year round in their ultra-refined Gatsby’s Room; however, for the festive season, they’ll have a little menu makeover. Special Christmas sandwiches will include the likes of roast Norfolk bronze turkey with stuffing and cranberry, and maple-glazed gammon with Pommery mustard. What about the sweet treats that follow? Well, post scones, expect Baileys, hazelnut and milk chocolate delice; a clementine and Douglas Fir ‘bauble’; mince pies; and more. Sign us up! If you can manage it after a full stomach, amble over to the hotel’s glamorous Le Magritte bar to round off the experience with a selection of Christmassy cocktails.
20. The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea
Another glam London option for alternative Christmas menus is a festive afternoon tea at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. Served on glittering gilded trays, expect Christmas-themed cakes and scones to accompany the classic sandwiches. Flavours of gingerbread and mince pie grace the menus, and one sweet treat even comes with its own little Santa’s hat… A selection of six Christmassy cocktails are also available.
21. The Savoy, Covent Garden
Rounding off our list nicely is the famed Savoy hotel. Alongside their gorgeous Christmas decorations, their iconic afternoon tea will be getting a touch of Christmas sparkle by way of their “it’s showtime” theme. The savoury and sweet treats are packed with flair already – think beetroot gravlax and Somerset oak cheddar with spiced pear chutney – but The Savoy go one step further this season. Those who choose to pair their afternoon tea with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé can enjoy a “Christmas Promise”. What’s that, you ask? A Christmas-scented bubble will be blown onto the top of a coupe of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, and guests can pop it and make a Christmas wish.
Price: £75pp for festive afternoon tea; £90pp for champagne afternoon tea with a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée; £100pp for festive afternoon tea with La Cuvée Rose.