Christmas is like Marmite: there’s no middle ground. You’re either full of the joys of the season or would rather stick your own head in the oven than a turkey. This time of year is full of blogs and articles telling you where to go for the best Christmas dinners, what venues do the greatest cocktails, and who has the best Mariah Carey playlist. So we decided to help out the Scrooges, the misery guts, and the people who go to the cinema on Christmas day. This ones for you Humbugs: here’s our guide on the best restaurants to escape Christmas this December.
Global warming may have put paid to a lot of snow in recent years but Scotland still (unfortunately for some) has a pretty festive feel around Christmas. Sit yourself down at these sprout-less tables and escape from it all:
Six by Nico
So, absolute honesty here: we have literally no idea what will be going on come Christmas as Six by Nico’s menu changes every six weeks. There’s been the chippie, picnic, Route 66, and forest themes so far and December’s could well be “The most Christmassy place in the world.” (If it is, we’re sorry.) However, having seen how visionary these guys are, we doubt it, and we’re sure it will actually be a great spot to escape Christmas. One thing is certain, the food will be delicious. Nico started cooking in his now-famous 111 by Nico restaurant in Kelvinside and has just recently opened up Six with his food getting rave reviews. Set in the coolest neighbourhood in Britain, Finnieston, there are sure to be lots of hip bars nearby who are “not doing Christmas dude” where you can head for a drink afterwards.1132 Argyle St, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 8TD Book Six by Nico
Cristal Restaurant - Mar Hall
Perhaps you’re not exactly looking to escape Christmas, you just want to escape the pressures of Christmas? Never fear, ResDiary is here with an excellent suggestion: head to Mar Hall. Just a short hop out of the centre of Glasgow, it feels like a million miles from the rushing, the stressing, and the high-pitched songs. Dine in the luxurious surroundings of the gorgeous hotel and if you’re feeling flush, cancel someone’s present and book a room. There’s a gorgeous spa to relax in the following morning, or go for a swim as you smugly congratulate yourself on having swerved the office party.Earl of Mar Estate, Bishopton, Bishopton PA7 5NW Book Cristal Restaurant here
Paying homage to the Irani cafes that were once a huge part of Bombay, Dishoom is one of Edinburgh’s busiest restaurants. Set in the festive haven of St Andrew Square, it is literally the perfect spot to escape Christmas shopping trips from hell. Many an other half has been dispatched to do the shopping while the lucky one perches in Dishoom savouring the amazing food. Pop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner and sample their famous pau bhaji: a bowl of mashed vegetables with a hot, buttered bun. The calamari is a popular version, with super fresh squid that has a lovely crunch. Wash it all down with a speciality Dishoom cocktail or try one of their lassis or coolers if the festive boozing is getting a bit much.3a St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD Booking available soon
England: The North
The north may be famous for chip butties, gravy on everything, and a deep love for mushy peas, but it’s also becoming increasingly well-known as a gastronomic heaven. There are also plenty of spots to escape Christmas, if you know where to look:
A Scouse version of a Japanese drinking den? Where do we sign up? Izakaya is the definition of Japanese cool; a chilled out spot where the owners want guests to “feel comfortable and confident to try new things.” If you’re looking for a spot with absolutely no turkey and trimmings, this is it. The menu consists of classic Japanese dishes like katsu curry and ramen, a huge selection of fresh sushi, and something a bit more adventurous like squid sake and soy or fish with rice wine. It’s just out of the centre of Liverpool so it’s the perfect spot to escape Christmas shoppers and relax with a Japanese inspired cocktail and a couple of small plates to share.6 Castle St, Liverpool L2 0NB Book Izakaya here
Northerners are renowned for their no-nonsense attitude and Squid Ink is no different. Think stripped down interiors with stripped down food; there’s no pretentiousness here. Although they are “doing Christmas”, it’s a pared down version. Their Christmas menu consists of fresh, locally sourced food, and there’s no cranberry sauce in sight. There’s a genuine love of food at Squid Ink where the chefs constantly change the menu to showcase the dishes that they love. Thankfully that means your chance of getting a mass-produced, lukewarm dish of grub are next to nil.4, 67 Great Ancoats St, Manchester M4 5AB
Book Squid Ink here
Right, we’re going to be honest. There are very few places in the North where you can truly escape Christmas: when it’s that cold people need something to look forward to. However, for something a little bit festively different, Prashad ticks all the boxes. Not only are there no pigs in blankets, there’s no meat at all as this is a veggie Indian restaurant. The head chef, Minal, was a mentee of Gordon Ramsay and appeared on his Best Restaurant TV series; she’s no idiot sandwich when it comes to cooking. There’s a huge selection of food to choose from, but the chaats to start and the vegetable biryani are big favourites with loyal customers.137 Whitehall Rd E, Drighlington, Bradford BD11 1AT Book Prashad here
England: The South
It may be a bit warmer daaan saaaarf than it is in the north but that doesn’t stop some folks giving the festive season a frosty reception. Avoid the scary seasonal cheer and escape Christmas with these quirky spots.
If you’re looking to escape Christmas and get away from hokey old turkey and sprouts, Oklava is the place for you. There’s still some Turkey around, but it’s where the food is from, not what’s in the dishes. The super-talented chef-owner, Selin, was a stand-out star in this year’s Great British menu and her dishes draw inspiration from a Cypriot/Turkish heritage. Think fresh, flavoursome food with flatbreads, kebabs, and mouth-watering salads. The cool decor is distinctly lacking in dancing Santas and there’s not a sleigh-bell in sight.74 Luke St, London EC2A 4PYp Book Oklava here
Too cool to even think about celebrating Christmas? ABQ is the place for you. Themed around the Netflix favourite, Breaking Bad, it’s hosted in an RV and is usually booked out weeks in advance. Upon arrival, you’re expected to put on yellow jumpsuits (we’ve been assured there are no festive Santa suit substitutions) and you get down to making the most fabulous cocktail concoctions. Using molecular techniques, you will get to whip up favourites like the CRT mix; a gin and elderflower concoction that uses dry ice to infuse rosemary and thyme flavours.455 Hackney Rd, London E2 9DY Book ABQ here
If you happen to be in Bristol around the festive season and just want to delight your belly without being blinded by fairy lights, head down to Adelina Yard. The owners, Jamie and Olivia, have a host of accolades under their belts, having worked for the Galvin brothers and Angela Hartnett. Chef Jamie also won Annual Award for Excellence from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts so you know your food is in great hands. Not one for looking for fads or trends, it’s a great place to escape Christmas. Check out their tasting menu, which includes delights like saddle back pork, cheese and truffle, and wild sea trout; all a steal at £40.Queen Quay, Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SL Book Adelina Yard here
The people of Northern Ireland are well known for their “festive cheer” *hiccup.* If you’re the kind of person who would rather drown in your glass of wine than in tinsel, check out these spots where refined luxury rather than all-out festive madness, reigns.
The ultimate in Belfast-cool, Michael Deanes was one of the first chefs in Northern Ireland to gain a Michelin star. His experimental cooking, alongside classic dishes have made him one of the most celebrated chefs of the last decade. Eipic is perhaps the fanciest of his seven venues and is a sure-fire spot to escape Christmas cheesiness. Deanes have never been one to go with the latest “thing” and their delicious £65 tasting menu is available all year round, celebrating fabulous local produce without a brussel in sight.28-40 Howard St, Belfast BT1 6PF Book Deanes Eipic here
Il Pirata is one of the many restaurants that have put Belfast firmly on the foodie map. With its extensive Italian menu, championing fresh food and family dining, this restaurant is a favourite with Belfast locals. It’s also a fantastic place to get away from drunken Santas, tinsel overload, and Andy from accounts crying into his pint. These guys are sticking to what they know best over the festive season and serving up a delicious menu that includes fresh pizzettas, fresh seafood risottos, and a cocktail list that mixes classics like the mojito with twists like a raspberry negroni. Pop down and get festively merry without the festive nightmare.279-281 Upper Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 3JF Book Il Pirata here
Made in Belfast - City Hall
Anyone who has ever visited any of Made in Belfast’s restaurants will usually tell you; “Made in Belfast is mental.” Kent-born Emma Bricknall, opened her first Made in Belfast venue in 2006 and the businesses have become known as some of Belfast’s most quirky spots. There is a Christmas menu, but it’s nothing like you’re used to. There’s grilled fillet of salmon, crab crushed potatoes and purple broccoli with lobster cream, Irish venison and lobster hot pot, and apple and black pudding croquettes to put a typically Made In Belfast-twist on a traditional Christmas menu.1&2 Wellington Building, Wellington Street Belfast Book City Hall here
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