Ah, Christmas. The only time of the year when it is sociably acceptable to consume your entire recommended daily food and drink intake before 11am.
As the inevitable office parties and university reunions mount up, the sight of another plate of soggy Turkey and stuffing is enough to put anyone off the big day itself. But with so many alternatives on offer this year from familiar chain-restaurants and quirky independents, why not leave the carving knives alone and opt for something a little more creative when planning dinner?
From Turkey-dogs to barbecued hog, here are ten of the best tried-and-tested alternative Christmas meals.
Ranking the Christmas meals
Ranking the Christmas meals
1/10 The Christmas Pizza
Pizza chains must panic around the end of August, when summery pastas and Pizza Leggaras lose their charm and hearty pub roasts rub their hands together greedily ahead of the winter storm. But Fire and Stone know how to keep pace - throw all that one might want in a roast onto a pizza! It sounds hefty, and looks quirkier, but the Festive Pizza is a delight. Turkey, sausage, stuffing, sprouts, cranberry and brie all on a bed of steaming thick gravy, this is no half-hearted attempt at festivity. Why can’t all roast dinners come with a crusty dough base? Fire and Stone - nationwide - £10.95
2/10 Mince Pie Cheesecake
How might a pizza become Christmassy? Let us count the ways… Pizza Express could have gone for a tree-shaped base, or even added just some orange to its seasonal pulled duck Anatra Romana - without it one might be mistaken for thinking they were celebrating the Chinese New Year. The four-part Christmas menu offers Brie and cranberry pizza for veggies, which was delicious to start with, if a little greasy by the end. But don’t go to Pizza Express for the Brie or even the cheerful roasted nut bowl nibbles, go for their finest idea yet: the Mince Pie Cheesecake. Festive perfection worth leaving your crusts for. Pizza Express - nationwide - £14.95 for set Christmas lunch menu, £19.95 for set Christmas dinner.
3/10 Blitzen Burger
With burgers across the country tarting themselves up and jumping on the festive bandwagon by the cow load, choosing the right one can be daunting. The Blitzen Burger is GBK’s take on festivity in a bun and comes pretty as much as expected - 6oz beef or chicken swaddled in cheese, bacon and, er, cranberry ketchup. The deep-fried camembert feels a little unnecessary and the cranberry only just allows it to stay within the Christmas munching category, but it’s a satisfying meal nonetheless. Wash it down with the seasonal Nutella milkshake and you’ll feel that familiar feeling of happy overindulgence. GBK - nationwide - £14.95 for the three-piece Christmas Bundle menu
4/10 The Christmas Hot-Dog
The Christmas burger may have become something of an old yarn, but did you hear the one about the Christmas dog? A turkey hot dog in a bun may not sound like gourmet family eating, but Dirty Bones dishes are surprisingly elegant. The turkey dog sits in a fancy brioche bun with stuffing and red wine gravy, nicely accompanied by rosemary seasoned fries and garlic greens. The Dirty Santa cocktail is the real star of the show and after a couple you won’t care whether it’s turkey in your bun or cut of Rudolph’s ear. Dirty Bones - 20 Kensington Church Street, London - from £23 per person for four courses
5/10 The Christmas Salad
Yes, it does exist. If you’ve made it this far down the list and have cranberry sauce dripping out of every orifice, the It’smas Potsu may come as a welcome break. With chicken, orange zest, mixed spices and chestnuts, the Itsu medley is a light and more creative way to get your lunchtime Christmas hit. For those who are bored of limp turkey sandwiches or those whose perpetual diet plans want to punish them on the build-up to the big day. Be warned, you may want another. Itsu - nationwide - £4.99 for medium / £6.99 for original
6/10 The Christmas Wrap
“I love it so much! I eat it every single day!” said the manager of Leon in Spitalfields, handing over their Christmas wrap. “Well… until about the second week into December.” Everything you would expect from on-the-go Christmas lunching, this wrap may well be the champion of all Christmas sandwich variations. Juicy and more filling than it first appears, this wrap is best consumed in private, away from the eyes of colleagues who might witness you slurping the cranberry and port sauce off your elbows. Leon - nationwide - £4.95
7/10 The Christmas Pasty
It’s not quite a pasty, but then it’s not quite a pastry... the “festive flavour” Christmas Bake from Greggs with chicken, stuffing and sweet-cure bacon in sage sauce, soothing places that your limp roast turkey sandwich just can’t reach. Pick it up when stumbling home from office Christmas drinks, on the brink of tears when bracing the Christmas shopping masses, or even on Boxing Day when you’ve fallen out with your family and have to seek out alternative lunch plans. It may not be glamorous or contain any one of your five-a-day, but there’s always time for a Christmas slice. Greggs - nationwide - from £1.40
8/10 The Latino Christmas
And now for something a little more sophisticated. Andina restaurant owner, Martin, says that Peruvians had Christmas eating down before anyone over here. And he may have a point - Andina’s sharing-style dishes are indulgent in the required festive fashion, but provide something a bit different for those who just can’t take any more turkey. The fresh salmon Ceviche Morado begs to be devoured but it’s the Lamb Seco Santiago which wins the favourite as the traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner offering. Follow with the cinnamon sponge and wash it all down with a seasonal cinnamon Pisco sour or three. Andina - Shoreditch, London - Christmas set menu from £36 per person.
9/10 The Mexmas Dinner
What does a Mexican Christmas taste like? Unfortunately, we can’t tell you. Despite having their Christmas menus on the table, papá Noel was yet to deliver the restaurant in question its Christmas menu ingredients. We can tell you that Wahaca’s guacamole is a perfect taste of festive sunshine and that the Herring Tostadas were second to none. But then, what’s a Christmas meal without the Roasted Sprout Mole? Pretty unseasonal, we say. Wahaca - nationwide - £19.50 per person for a four course Christmas set menu
10/10 The Christmas Barbecue
Make like the Brazilians and stick your Christmas dinner on the barbecue. Or, if the British weather doesn’t quite lend itself, let Cabana do it for you on their in-house grill. Santa’s Little Skewer is a happy mash up of traditional pigs-in-blankets with chicken and pineapple chargrilled to perfection. The Christmas set menu offers a huge amount of food ideal for sharing, but those inevitable meat sweats will make you want a siesta pretty soon after. Feliz Natal! Cabana - Leeds, various London locations - Skewer £12.95