The Best Big Christmas Dinner Restaurants In London guide image


The Best Big Christmas Dinner Restaurants In London

The best restaurants for a Christmas get-together with friends, family, and colleagues.

It’s nearly that time of the year. Christmas is coming. Also arriving soon: the heavy duty strategic planning with your partner to ensure the least possible amount of time spent with either family. The unique look of disappointment and disgust from your Secret Santa recipient at work. And the screams from your sibling because you had ‘one job to do’, and that was to bring the parsnips. Which you forgot.

But before all that fun, you may have the task of arranging an end-of-year Christmas meal for a bunch of people that you either work with or whom you call ‘friends’. If you book any of the spots below, it should keep you in the spirit of things before those spirits are broken by the train ride home on the 24th December.



There’s nothing like an office Christmas party to bring out geography favouritism. Before comments like “I’m not trekking to the end of the Central line” start getting thrown around by the east Londoners, book Hoppers. The King’s Cross spot has got transport links down, and last year it had Sri Lankan festive menus with things like venison rolls with cranberry hot sauce, winter vegetable mallung with dhal, and BBQ black pepper prawns. If you’re ordering à la carte, get as many dishes as you can fit on your table including their excellent dosa and namesake hoppers.

The closest you come to cabaret most Christmasses is a boozy game of charades. Not this year. This year, start your big Christmas night out in Soho with several negroni sbagliatos and a show at Brasserie Zédel’s club, Crazy Coqs. Previous performers have included a Dolly Parton impersonator, so you know it’s good. Then head over the corridor to Brasserie Zédel itself for a French feast of roast duck breast, twice-baked souffle, and chocolate and caramel tart.

London’s finest dining experience for canal enthusiasts has Christmas options on both its moving and static boats. The Prince Regent (moving) usually does a set menu featuring things like prawn tempura, scallops with celeriac, and Cornish cod. Alternatively, The Grand Duchess (not moving) also keeps things simple with a set menu for groups of four or more. Expect oysters, smoked eel, custard tarts, and boozy prunes.

Sure the King’s speech is important and all, but eating a mountain of sesame prawn toast at Royal China is the kind of celebration of monarchy that we can really get behind. This legendary Chinese restaurant on Baker Street has upmarket signature dishes, like their stir-fried prawns and scallops with XO sauce, and in the past have had Christmas specials like turkey spring rolls. It’s the perfect spot for groups small, big, and craving a lazy Susan.

St. John is sacred ground for performative and genuine offal enthusiasts, so it’s fair to say that they know a thing or two about meat. And at Christmas, their Smithfield dining room is the perfect setting for a boozy festive dinner. More often than not the menu around this time of year is “structured around one central beast or fish”. The beasts (or as we call them, meats) include game, beef, and goose or, if you’re feeling all Lord of the Flies, there’s been a whole suckling pig in previous years.

You, your grandmother, and every person who has a secret crush on Colin Firth knows that the Christmas season is all about the period drama. And Quality Chop House in Clerkenwell is the period drama of London restaurants. A proper old-school British restaurant, their seasonal menu not only features things like Christmas pudding ice cream with drunken pecan tart, but a whole turkey with sprouts and bacon. Basically, we can’t really think of a better place to go when you want to feel a bit Dickens and celebrate Christmas present with game terrine.

Every day feels like Christmas at Italy-on-steroids spot Circolo Popolare. From the moment you step out of Soho and into a sea of twinkling lights and glowing lanterns dangling from a thick foliage canopy, you feel like you’re somewhere magical. Like the inside of a glittery bauble. Ask for one of the charming, white stone booths if you’re with a group and get stuck into a slice of lemon meringue pie the size and shape of a shark’s fin.

Ciao Bella is a perma-party restaurant for much of London and it’s where you go when you value good times more than anything else. This old-school Italian institution knows how to celebrate every day of the week and it’s no different at Christmas time. The vibe is a happy mix of ‘80s wedding classics—think peeled prawn starters or beef medallions in garlic butter—and straight red sauce, Goodfellas classics.

If you’re going to have to listen to your entire family moan about their two-hour trip to London to see you for a Christmas lunch, then you’re going to want, at the very least, some decent turkey. Luckily, this old-school Kensington haunt really knows its meat. It’s the kind of mildly eccentric British restaurant that’ll have even your angriest uncle smiling by the time he finishes his cheese and leek tart starter. We’d recommend the roast rump of lamb with rosemary and garlic to really get you in the holiday spirit. If Maggie Jones’s is booked up, try French sister spot, La Poule Au Pot in Belgravia.

Sometimes team dinners mean 40 people plus the partners you hear them slag off every day. But sometimes it just means you and those three people who proofread your emails because you’re freelance. For a small, intimate Christmas dinner, there’s Lleweyln’s. This charming little restaurant by Herne Hill station is pretty much the definition of idyllic. Their modern European menu is full of things like venison carpaccio, winter roots gratin, porcini-stuffed pork loin, and sticky toffee pudding. But if you leave without getting the sticky toffee pudding, Christmas is cancelled.

A certified fancy gastropub, The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea has “OTT Christmas lunch” written all over it. With a fireplace, grand curtains, and a menu of British classics like prawn cocktail, beef wellington, and a supposedly one-person trifle, this is a great place to bring a group when you want to spend a whole afternoon out.

Without doubt one of London’s finest gastropubs, the Canton Arms is the kind of place we’d like to spend the entirety of December. It’s boozy, full of molten Breville-style toasties, and has a fireplace that absolutely insists on “one more quick drink”. For Christmas they’ve usually got a couple of feasting menus available, with a choice of warming classics like pie, dauphinoise, and a totally unnecessary but also necessary cheese board.

We’ll look for pretty much any excuse to go and celebrate at Brigadiers, so you should probably make a Christmas lunch yours. This upmarket Indian barbecue spot in The City has everything from a whisky vending machine, a pool room you can abscond to if you happen to hate your colleagues, slick booths you can hide your mango-covered face in, and a private dining area with poker tables if you’re looking to go all out.

We love spending time with family at Christmas. Not our real family, they’re a bunch of weirdos. No, by family, we mean the troop of female chefs at this Italian restaurant who once fed us additional lasagne because they were checking out a new recipe. This jolly Italian restaurant on the King’s Road is a crowd-pleaser, with a great cacio e pepe to boot.

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photo credit: Quality Chop House

The Best Big Christmas Dinner Restaurants In London guide image