Busy schedules, tight deadlines, no sleep or social life. Sound familiar? Sometimes, it’s all too easy to allow life to get ahead of us leaving less room for the important things.
In our humble opinion, the Christmas period is the perfect time for catching up with family and friends. And what better way to do it than the best way we know how: food. However, this year, we’re all about venturing to slightly different, perhaps more unconventional eats to celebrate the festivities. We’ve gone out and tried three restaurants that we think you should dine at this Christmas.
What: An authentic Sicilian restaurant serving hearty, comforting dishes.
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London (on the corner of Rathbone Square).
Why: Because this hotspot gets more ‘popolare’ by the day. Setting off to Italy in the middle of December’s chaos is something we’d all love to do; dining at Circolo Popolare is the next best thing. As if you’ve stepped into a Sicilian cave, this restaurant is as authentic as it comes. Serving the kind of dishes you dream about (carbs, carbs and more carbs), this is a dining choice that’ll put your dry turkey to shame. Veggies, vegans – you’re all good here, too. Grab your mates and secure yourself a walk-in table. Just be quick – seats fill up fast.
What To Eat: To start, we think you should go classic Italiano with mozzarella and their San Daniele Ham (aged for 19 months). Vegan? The pumpkin soup will warm you up from the inside out. For mains, there was only one obvious choice for us; enter La Gran Carbonara. This home-made favourite comes in a giant parmesan. When mixed, the heat from the spaghetti melts the cheese, serving up the cheesiest, richest carbonara you’ll possibly ever have. True story. If cheese isn’t your thing (poor you), there are plenty of pizza options as well as a standout vegan Mafaldine Al Tartufo dish with black truffle.
For dessert (always room), their Incomparable Lemon Pie is an absolute game-changer. A zesty lemon tart is topped with inches (about 5 of them) of soft, blow-torched marshmallow. We’ll just leave that there.
What To Drink: Let them pick your wine – they’ll pair it perfectly. And have a couple of cocktails to finish. Be warned: they’re strong.
What: An independent pub that’s fueled on fresh, seasonal dishes and feel-good vibes.
Where: 28 Chilworth Street, Paddington, London.
Why: If you’re on the lookout for some wholesome cooking with an innovative twist, this is the place for you. With an ever-changing menu to maintain optimum freshness, The Cleveland Arms have nailed home-style cooking. Tucked-away in the back streets of Paddington, The Clevelands Arm’s reminded us of being in an old country house library – it has that warm, welcoming vibe where you won’t want to move for hours (eat enough and you probably won’t be able to, anyway). Open since 1852, once you go, you won’t be able to resist going back.
What To Eat: Since the menu changes often, we won’t be too specific with what we suggest you eat. However, what we can say is that you should opt for the most obscure dishes on the menu. We found that The Cleveland Arms had a knack for introducing new flavours to dishes you might not necessarily pick first (think bone marrow or lemongrass polenta). That being said, the classic burger was one of the best we’d ever had, too.
What To Drink: A glass of wine never hurt anybody. Failing that, a cold beer will go down a treat.
What: Chicken and waffles, American style.
Where: Born in Brooklyn, now in London. Find Sweet Chick at 8 Market Place, Fitzrovia, London.
Why: What better way to mix up your roast than with a very different style of chicken? Having done extraordinary well in the US, Sweet Chick decided to make the move to London (and we’re so glad they did). Created by Nas and John Seymour, expect some of the wildest chicken and waffle combinations you’ve ever seen. Oh, and vegetarian fried chicken is abolsutley a thing. Fun interior and a casual vibe, this is a place where you can pop in and dine or book for a load of you to eat together. No regrets.
What To Eat: What not to eat? Start with something hearty like their Mac And Cheese (three cheeses) and build yourself up for the main event. Hot chicken? Buffalo fried chicken? Parmesan or veggie chicken? Whatever you get, find a waffle to match. Sweet or savoury, there’s endless maple syrup on each table to complement it.
What To Drink: Cocktails on tap, please.