Have you thought of having Christmas dinner in a pub? If you are visiting the UK over Christmas, or just want to let someone else do all the cooking for the big day, pubs are great alternatives to posh restaurants or do-it-yourself on Christmas Day.
With a few notable exceptions, only the most prestigious restaurants are actually open on Christmas Day and fancy dining spots cannot resist delivering the festive meal with their own gourmet twists.
Before You Plan A Traditional Christmas Dinner in a PubPubs can be counted upon to serve a traditional British Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. And, since many pubs are also the landlord's family home, the atmosphere is warmer and friendlier than you might find in a restaurant. But before you plan on enjoying one, keep in mind that:
- Not all pubs are open on Christmas Day and among those that are, not all will be serving food.
- Christmas dinner in a pub is actually Christmas lunch in the UK
- Pubs, like restaurants and hotel dining rooms will charge a premium for dining on Christmas Day
- You need to book well in advance - most pubs that serve Christmas Day lunch start taking reservations as early as December 1
- You will probably have to pay the full amount or a non-refundable deposit when you make the reservation
Ten Great Pubs for Christmas DinnerThese English pubs, dotted around the country, are all serving Christmas Day lunches or Christmas Eve Dinners:
- The Plough at Bolnhurst, Bolnhurst, Bedfordshire MK44 2EX, Telephone: +44 (0)1234 376274. Housed in a partly Tudor building, this is the Bedfordshire Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2009. The restaurant critics all love it. In 2012 They'll be offering dinner on Christmas Eve as well as a Christmas menu from December 11 to 22.
- The Ferry in Cookham, Sutton Road, Cookham, Maidenhead SL6 9SN, Telephone:+44 (0)1628 525123. A bit modern and gastropub-ish but locals in this very pretty town sing its praises. Christmas will be traditional in 2012 but if turkey is not your thing, their doing Lobster Thermidor, a beef dish and a vegetarian choice. They're serving Christmas Eve, Christmas lunch, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's day. During the holidays you can book a spot at the bar for bubbly and nibbles too. That's a novel idea.
- The Royal Oak, Yattendon, The Square, Yattendon, RG18 0UG Telephone: +44 (0)1635 201 325. A restaurant with a tiny, child and dog-friendly country pub alongside.
- The Ship, Wandsworth, 41 Jews Row, Wandsworth, London SW18 1TB, Telephone:+44 (0)208 870 9667. This is a wonderful pub - one of my favorites in London. But its location, almost under Wandsworth Bridge, south of the Thames, makes it hard to find. And since there are several London pubs in the area known as The Ship, you could end up in the wrong place. Make sure you phone up for directions if you aren't familiar with the location.
- The Bull at Broughton, Broughton, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3AE. Telephone: +44 (0)1756 792065. Lovely old stone-built Yorkshire pub. Ask about their occasional Guinea Pig nights, when they try out new dishes in an inexpensive 3-course fixed price meal. In 2013, The Bull will once again be open for Christmas Day and, they are serving a well-priced pre-Christmas menu from December 2 as well.
- The George in Huntingdon, George Street,Huntington,Cambridgeshire PE29 3AB, Telephone: +44 (0)1480 432 444. This pub is part of an old coaching inn in a town with strong links to Oliver Cromwell. Check out the 2013 menu.
- The Lord Nelson Walsingham Road, Burnham Thorpe, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 8HN, Telephone: +44 (0)1328 738241. This tiny place claims to be Admiral Lord Nelson's own local. There's a fascinating story about it on their website. And for their Christmas Day and New Year's Eve menu, check the "Diary Dates" page on their website.
- The Masons Arms, Cartmell Fell, Cumbria, Telephone: +44 (0)15395 68486. A cosy place not far from Lake Windermere in The Lake District. The Good Pub Guide has named it Pub of the Year 2012 for the Northwest. On Christmas Day 2013 they are planning one sitting at 1pm for a huge, traditional feast.
- The Fox Goes Free Charlton, Nr Goodwood, W Sussex PO18 0HU, Telephone: +44 (0)1243 811461. Great name for a 400-year-old character pub in the horsey country near Goodwood Racecourse. They are offering a 4-course Christmas menu on Christmas Day but, if you can't wait, in 2013 they'll be serving a 3-course holiday feast, at a fraction of the cost, from December 1 to December 24 as well. If you don't go for Christmas dinner, at least drop by for a pre-Christmas drink. Their outdoor decorations are just splendiferous!
- The Lamb at Hindon Hindon, Wiltshire SP3 6DP, Telephone: +44 (0)1747 820 573. A public house for almost 900 years. Their Christmas menu for 2013 looks great. You'll find it under "Menus" on their website. Just don't be put off by the rather legalistic booking form that precedes it.