13 Festive Feasts in Hants and IoW
'Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry - and whether it's traditional festive fare or something slightly quirkier we've sussed the best places to go in Hants & IoW.
Love it traditional or perhaps you like a festive meal that goes against the grain? Here are 13 great places in Hants and the Isle of Wight serving up gorgeous seasonal delights – from country house hotels to casual city centre spots.
Watership Down Inn, Freefolk
Venue: This cosy little bolthole is located right by the North Wessex Downs and overlooks the Test Valley. It’s also a multiple Muddy Award winner as well.
On the menu: Christmas is due to get a lot more extravagant with smoked salmon pave with a pecan nut crumb and braised pork Cheek in Calvados and Sage, joining the more traditional slow-roasted turkey.
What else? Just minutes walk from the Bombay Sapphire Distillery this is the perfect place to stop off and enjoy a gorgeous meal before picking up all the gin you could possibly require for Christmas (that’ll be quite a bit then).
The Kitchen @ Chewton Glen, New Forest
Venue: The relaxed surroundings of Chewton Glen’s The Kitchen make the perfect spot for some festive dining in the New Forest.
On the menu: Ditch the traditional roast for The Kitchen’s Christmas twist of a turkey burger complete with a pig in a blanket, cranberry ketchup, chestnut stuffing and topped with Somerset brie, or even a turkey pizza.
What else? While you’re here take a look at some of the fantastic cooking classes they offer up for any James Martin wannabes
The Cliff House, Barton on Sea
Venue:Muddy’s Award Winner for the best restaurant in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight is a seaside Scandi dream. And, with a location on top of a cliff, you’ll also get a view like no other.
On the menu: Mixing it up they have some epic seafood in the shape of Gilt Head Bream accompanied with Beetroot Orzotto and a rather delicious sounding braised Jacobs Ladder Beef.
What else? They like a party here so make sure to check out some of the fab live music events they’ve got happening over the Christmas season.
Cambium, Careys Manor, Brockenhurst
Venue:This beautiful country house looks as if it stepped right off a Christmas card itself, add to that a fabulous restaurant that makes the most of local produce and you’re in a festive wonderland.
On the menu: Expect mouth-watering dishes such as rillette of Chalk Stream Trout with radish and Chimi Churri and stuffed pheasant breast in lieu of your usual turkey.
What else? It’s also the home to SenSpa which is an absolute fave of the Muddy team. Book in for some well-deserved festive pampering along with your Christmas dining.
The Briny, Southsea
Venue:This isn’t just any old fish and chip shop on Southsea’s seafront, as you step inside you’re treated to a fantastic interior (shipped right out of Australia, no less) plus views across the entire Solent and over to the Wight.
On the menu: Nibble on some salt and vinegar samphire as you get ready to delve into the delicious Christmas menu of tapas-style dishes. On the menu are things such as Kentucky Fried trout, local Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella, beer-battered fish & chips and seared sea bass with fizz sauce.
What else? Bring your winter coat and scarf for a bracing stroll along Southsea seafront afterwards. The location makes it the perfect spot for discovering everything from South Parade Pier to the D-Day Museum on your visit.
The Thomas Lord, West Meon
Venue: This Michelin recommended country pub has bags of character, roaring log fires and even some ferrets playing cricket above the bar.
On the menu: With a Christmas Day and Boxing Day offering that includes roasted Hampshire turkey, pressed game and chicken liver mousse, this is the ideal spot for a really traditional Christmas dinner done well.
What else? The Meon Valley is just on the doorstep for a post-lunch stomp with family and friends.
The Montagu Arms, Beaulieu
Venue: The Terrace restaurant at The Montagu Arms has all the country-house estate vibes you could want from a special meal. With staff who are incredibly knowledgeable and beautiful surroundings, you’ll feel extra special the minute you step in here.
On the menu: Chef Matthew Whitfield is incredibly talented and you’ll be able to tell from the dishes on the special festive Tasting Menu that includes slow cooked shoulder of lamb with confit garlic and terrine of Pondhead Farm brisket with pickled carrot.
What else? The hotel also has a number of events and workshops taking place that include chocolate making and floral arranging. If you don’t fancy that then just head outside to try and catch a glimpse of some of the gorgeous local donkeys that trot about.
Venue:Incredibly cool with views over the marina, HarBar is a snippet of city chic meets seaside glam. With tattoo imagery on the walls and its own rooftop terrace (if you fancy braving the cold Winter wind!)
On the menu: Opt for the festive menu that includes Onglet & Oxtail of locally sourced beef, Coconut & Vanilla Panna Cotta, and cinnamon flavoured shortbread. Or on the big day itself choose stuffed turkey breast complete with a maple bacon lattice.
What else? The drinks here are as good as the food and with plenty of Mermaid gin to work with, make sure you grab one of the fab cocktails on offer. Hey, it is Christmas after all!
Bistro du Vin, Winchester
Venue: The original and the best. Hotel du Vin’s first-ever location was in Winchester and the in-house bistro is still an absolute must visit with its Anglo/Franco vibes.
On the menu: From farm to fork, Bistro du Vin focuses on getting the best possible local fare and with their Christmas Day lunch you can expect plenty of produce from nearby outlets. Keeping it traditional you can feast on roasted free-range turkey ballotine before finishing off with Valrhona chocolate and kirsch cherry yule log with cinnamon ice-cream. If you can’t make the big day itself, there’s also an opportunity for a fab festive afternoon tea as well.
What else? Oh, I don’t know… just the stonking Winchester Christmas Market on its doorstep. Tipped as one of the best in Europe this is the place to eat, drink and get as merry as possible in the run up to Christmas.
The Peat Spade, Stockbridge
Venue: Traditional pub vibes with a tonne of foodie clout, The Peat Spade is often tipped as one of the best pubs in the whole region.
On the menu: With local Rosary goats’ cheese salad and pan-fried fillet of cod with pink fir potatoes, plus your traditional roast turkey, there are plenty of people pleasers on both the festive party menu and the Christmas Day and Boxing Day options.
What else? While most things will be shut on Christmas Day, it’s still worth taking a walk down the main street full of brick and thatch period houses to make you feel all seasonal.
The Crown Inn, Upton
Venue: This Bib Gourmand winning pub is absolutely gorgeous – both inside and out – and provides a warm and cosy place to celebrate the festive season… with EXCELLENT food, of course!
On the menu: Start with a warming roasted celeriac soup with brown butter and chives before digging into roast turkey breast and confit leg, finishing off with a traditional Christmas pud with brandy sauce and clotted cream.
What else? It’s also right next door to Parsonage Farm where you can stock up on Hampshire-made salami and charcuterie or even sign up for a sausage-making course.
7Bone Burger Co, Portsmouth and Southampton
Venue:With two Hampshire locations this quirky indie burger chain is the spot to go for Instaworthy food offerings, American comfort food, and Lionel Richie emblazoned craft beer.
On the menu: Every year they come up with a special Christmas burger and this year its a doozy. Both branches get the limited edition the Hogmanay Honkytonk which comprises of stuffing-coated buttermilk fried chicken, mulled cider spiced smoked pork, stuffing patty, XXXmas slaw, gravy, the *7B moist maker* + topped with a pig in a blanket. AND, if that’s not enough to make your arteries groan you can top it off with one of their Christmas Cookies, a mince pie cookie, vanilla soft serve + gold cinnamon sprinkles. OMG, just roll me into the New Year already.
What else? You might as well go the whole hog so opt for one of the chains awesome hard shakes such as the ‘Her name was Lola’ – vanilla ice cream, Mailbu, spiced rum & pineapple. Oooh errrr.
Venue: This redbrick Newport restaurant is the brainchild of one of the youngest Michelin starred chefs ever. The youthful nature of Robert Thompson translates with a super contemporary setting that is unlike most other spots on the Wight.
On the menu: Giving an Italian flavour to the traditional British Christmas Dinner, diners can delve into dishes such as cannelloni of bronze turkey & roasted onion risotto with a bubble and squeak puree.
What else? Located in the centre of Newport it’s easy to drop in after finishing your Christmas shopping or head over to the nearby Quay Arts for a seasonal show.