Another Christmas, another series of festive meals, another January starts with a diet. 2016 mainly saw Elldrew revisiting some old favourites – to see if they’re just as good and festive as previous years – and in case you need any reminders you can read our 2014/15 or 2015/16 festive feasting reviews before taking a peek at 2016/17.
Our festive dining began with a visit to Pizza East, Kentish Town, in search of a festive turkey pizza or similar food option. There wasn’t. Actually, when it comes to pizza that’s probably not a bad thing. Instead we enjoyed their tried and tested pizzas, which were great as usual. “A bit like a posh Pizza Express” was a comment from around the table and probably very fair – the toppings are definitely one-up on Pizza Express (we LOVED the pizza with veal meatballs, cream, prosciutto and sage) but we do prefer the Pizza Express Romana bases – they’re thinner and a little less chewy. Drew enjoyed eating any burnt dough edges he could get his hands on, keeping him quiet and out of mischief. Star sides comprised of the meatballs, the Burrata and the mac ‘n’ cheese. Pizza East trumps on atmosphere and style and is a great venue to catch up with friends.
Two days later we went for another version of posh fast food; this time revisiting the Hawksmoor’s delicious Christmas burgers in Spitalfields. We were reliably informed that they had a new recipe and, if so, they were as good if not even better than last year. Yes they’re piggish, yes it’s completely unnecessary to stuff an entire Christmas dinner inside a burger, but damn they’re mighty fine! And that china cow of gravy to dunk them into: totally messy but it tips them over the edge to heaven! All that said, we were slightly disappointed with the brisket nuggets this year. Perhaps we tried to eat them when they were too hot or perhaps because as one of our friends pointed out that they’d taste better if they were named “Noel Nuggets”! And hats off to the table near us who introduced us to vintage Mescal. Sore heads the day after but delicious festive flavours – fourth visit in as many years so see you same time in 2017!
Christmas family lunch was back at old favourite Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant, Soho. After some rather mixed previous Christmas day meals in “trendy” restaurants we all agreed to go back to one of our favourite meals. We’d learnt from the last visit to come hungry in preparation for the huge feast. It didn’t disappoint. We individually ordered massive sized starters from a fantastic menu that included truffle risotto, scallops and a crab terrine. Main meal was naturally followed by a classic roast turkey with all the trimmings, including a side dish of roast potatoes (in case the fondant on our plate wasn’t enough potato!). An amazing selection of desserts were enjoyed before we shared a cheese plate which finished us off, literally. We again rolled out of the restaurant hurrying to our respective houses to take comfort on the sofa in our PJs. The only complaint this year would be that the restaurant lacked festive décor…we are sure there were more decorations aside from our token Christmas cracker in the past?
Our next seasonal meal was an annual catch-up with a good friend who is usually in London for the holidays visiting family; previous destinations have included Cecconi’s, The Wolseley, The Savoy and Berner’s Tavern. This year we chose newly refurbished The Ivy in the West End – to be clear, that’s not one of their spin offs, this is the original (and best) restaurant – and we all commented that it maintains itself a head and shoulders above the others in the group. A three and half hour sitting later, loads of fizz and unfortunately no celeb spotting this year, we loved the service and buzzy vibe. Dishes devoured with smiling faces included a superb Champagne risotto, their delicious cottage pie, a lovely and light miso glazed salmon and the equally delicious seared scallops with sticky pork, perfect. Bursting at the seams we agreed to share a dessert, the Baked Alaska flambéed at the table for added drama. And, if you do go, Elldrew highly recommend you try their signature strawberry daiquiri – no cocktail umbrellas for The Ivy, just a decadent and punchy frozen delight.
We wrapped up our seasonal dining with a New Year’s Eve dinner at home; featuring dishes from some of our favourite chefs…but we’ll put that to one side for another blog. We hope all our readers enjoyed the festive season and you managed to spend precious time with friends and loved ones. Happy 2017!