From belt-loosening roast dinners to lip-smackingly lavish desserts, we present our pick of Cambridgeshire’s finest seasonal offerings for the ultimate indulgence
If you need some inspiration for your get-together or office party this winter, look no further than these venerable venues.
THE RED LION INN
Drive just 15 minutes from the city and you can experience true rural escapism in the idyllic Grade II conservation villages of Hinxton and nearby Balsham. Here, you’ll find the Red Lion Inn and the Black Bull Inn respectively – a pair of independent country pubs that have been under the same ownership for the past 20 years. Both establishments promise quintessential pub fare locally sourced from the region’s best suppliers and served in an atmospheric and historic setting. Despite the quaint backdrop, both pubs can cater to parties of over 60 – but don’t hang about, booking is advised well in advance if you have your sights set on the festive season! Rooms are available for a comfortable stay after you’ve feasted to your heart’s content.
THE WILLOW TREE
A hideaway in the Bourn countryside, The Willow Tree offers a taste of Christmas magic. Aside from the pub restaurant, the enchanting gardens feature twinkling, fairy-lit domes, where you can spend December evenings in sheltered comfort. Inside, expect a tantalising menu and elegant bar – perfect for a post-dinner cocktail. If you’re looking for delectable dining, whatever the season, this is a gastropub with a difference that’s not to be missed.
Standing proudly as the highest pub in the region, The Pheasant in Great Chishill is synonymous with warm ambience and a welcoming atmosphere. Equally enticing are its culinary offerings. The Pheasant pairs its seasonal menus with a curated wine list – elevating the experience for connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike. Locally sourced ingredients combine for a blend of classic and contemporary dishes, while a dedication to quality ensures every visit is a journey of indulgence. Visit pheasantgc.com for more information.
The ideal choice for big groups or corporate events, let your hair down at Revolution as you prepare to step into Wonderland. This year’s theme celebrates the weird and wonderful, with various events, dining options and parties creating an unforgettable evening. After settling in for a two- or three-course dinner, or perhaps a cocktail-making masterclass if that’s more your kind of team-building exercise, night owls can head to one of four floors to dance the night away.
FLAVOURS FROM AFAR
For something more exotic than a traditional turkey dinner…
Discover a festive Japanese feast at Kibou. Alongside the regular menu, there will be a range of specials, plus a festive sharing menu that’s perfect for groups of six or more. Dive into platters of sushi and sashimi, plus dishes like tempura king prawns in miso sweet chilli sauce, marinated crispy cauliflower florets and deliciously pillowy bao. Finish with dessert or a flight of Japanese whiskies. Prices start at £35 per person with dessert. To see the menus and book your table, visit kibou.co.uk/christmas2023
Upholding an authentic focus on its Galician and Basque heritage, Michelin-recommended Mercado Central enters the run-up to the festive period with a new set lunch menu celebrating the best seasonal market produce. Its great-value lunch menu – two courses for £24 or three courses for £29 – is available all week from October and there are seasonal Christmas menus for larger groups and businesses. Settle in for a slice of Spain’s historic markets and restaurants, right in the middle of Cambridge.
DE LUCA CUCINA
This modern Italian restaurant dives into the season of celebration. This year’s Christmas menu includes sharing breads, olives and antipasti, with mains of stuffed turkey breast with cranberry and sausage stuffing, and pork fillet wrapped in Parma ham and stuffed with mozzarella. For dessert, you’ll have to choose from tiramisu, white chocolate cheesecake, affogato or sorbet!
GRAIN & HOP STORE
Biscotti spritz anyone? How about a Christmas mule? If you fancy a festive drinks night, these seasonal beverages are the perfect addition.
This Mill Road favourite has a selection of true classics (we’re looking at you, mulled wine) and creative concoctions from its expert bartenders.
Get your Christmas event off to the best start with some pre-dinner mixing. Choose from a prosecco or mulled wine reception, buckets of beer and international wine packages.
ROOM AT THE INN?
Considering a seasonal escape? You needn’t travel far, with top dining and hospitality options on offer in the Cambridge area
In the heart of historic Ely, this elegant Grade II listed townhouse promises to pamper, whether you’re visiting for an overnight stay or to indulge in The Dining Room. The 2023 Christmas menus cater to a wide range of options: from festive afternoon teas to multi-course lunches and dinners – plus private or shared parties to truly spread the cheer. Take the trouble out of Christmas Day by lunching at Poets House, with champagne and canapes to start and all your favourite mains to follow – or treat yourself on Boxing Day with a sumptuous three-course lunch. As 2024 approaches, party in style with the New Year’s Eve bash, which can be combined with a two-night accommodation break to ensure you’re well-rested afterwards.
A boutique bolthole, the Gonville Hotel is the home of hospitality in the city centre. The two AA Rosette-awarded Terrace Restaurant will be serving a host of Christmas delights as the season approaches. Whether celebrating in the après ski-themed marquee or enjoying a cosy family meal inside, the hotel boasts a full programme of events, including afternoon teas, Christmas Day lunch and a Boxing Day family feast, before seeing in 2024 with a live jazz performance.
THE LODGE, DUXFORD
A haven on the outskirts of Cambridge, this classy boutique hotel was recently awarded four AA stars, adding to its accolade of one AA Rosette for culinary excellence. The true heart of the hotel is its dining room, where you can savour a festive afternoon tea for two, or choose from a handcrafted autumn and winter menu that showcases local ingredients, presented with a creative twist. A firm Sunday roast favourite, head to The Lodge for its Christmas stay packages, or embrace the spirit of revelry with its festive party nights from Thursdays to Saturdays. For an unforgettable New Year, take a look at the Snow Ball Gala under the tipi.
ALL THINGS NICE
Don’t forget to make time for a Christmas treat – whether it’s afternoon tea or a hot drink!
Aside from its world-famous Chelsea buns, the local icon that is Fitzbillies offers a host of beautiful Christmas cakes, hampers and gift boxes that make for a truly special treat. Or better yet, try soaking up the warm and cosy atmosphere with a Christmas afternoon tea in the Trumpington Street tearoom.
CARRIAGES OF CAMBRIDGE
For a unique afternoon tea experience, head to Fen Drayton and step aboard a vintage train carriage, where you can gorge on fresh-baked scones with Cornish clotted cream alongside hand-prepared sandwiches. Christmas afternoon tea is £35.50, while Christmas high tea is £39.50.
While ticking off your Christmas shopping list in town, stop by this local hotspot on Green Street for an undeniably indulgent hot chocolate. Choose from a range of over 20 different percentage hot chocolate drinks with a range of toppings – why not add some cinnamon for a festive twist?
This tasteful brasserie is a favourite at any time of year, but truly comes alive at Christmas. Throughout December, Browns offers seasonal menus and lavish festive afternoon teas as the perfect refreshment after a spot of shopping. Don’t miss decadent champagne bottomless brunch on New Year’s Day.
Head to the river for a classic festive menu or to dive into some seasonal sharing boards with your nearest and dearest. Expect twists on the classics, like turkey curry croquettes, alongside mouth-watering puddings like vanilla and stem ginger cheesecake with mandarin marmalade and toasted almonds. Yum!
Overlooking the scenic mill pond, Millworks is well-versed in accommodating great Christmas gatherings. Expect premium food and drinks plus quality hospitality. This year’s highlights include turkey ballotine; venison, bacon and mushroom pie; plus butternut squash and lentil wellington.