The season of good fill – winter dining guide

Our pick of the best local spots for sharing fantastic festive feasts with friends, family and colleagues

Pint Shop

From the fantastic beer selection to the hearty, imaginative food, Pint Shop is a safe bet for a great night out at any time of the year. Their Christmas menu offers a new spin on festive favourites, featuring sharing dishes like crispy turkey bites (with cranberry and chilli ketchup) and mulled fruit pavlovas for afters.

Traditionalists need not panic; there’s roast turkey on the list (served with a lip-smacking combo of bacon, button onions, kohlrabi and bread sauce), or you can choose between overnight pork belly and crackling; chargrilled hake; a club steak or a cheesy filo pie with roasted artichokes.

The menu runs from 23 November to 24 December and it’s priced at £29.50 for three courses. 

pintshop.co.uk 

Zara Indian Cuisine 

Spice up your winter at a curry house in Shelford that’s really grabbed the imagination of many a local foodie, Zara Indian Cuisine. Choose from chicken or duck tikka, marinated in yoghurt, garlic and spices, or shahi king prawns from a wide range of starters, then move on to a seemingly endless list of tempting mains. Lamb Gurkha uses ten fresh ingredients for a Nepalese treat, wild duck breast features roast barbury duck in a rich masala of tomato and mango, while Goan lamb shank is a supreme cut that’s full of flavour, cooked with tomatoes and coriander. As well as the traditional sections on the menu, such as vindaloo, korma and jalfrezi, you can choose from dhansak dishes (added lentils), sagwala options, with spinach and mixed spice, and pathia dishes which mix perfectly sweet and sour flavours.

zarashelford.com

Hotel du Vin & Bistro

There are all sorts of options for your season’s eatings at Hotel du Vin, whether you’re in the market for a festive afternoon tea, a party menu or the all-important Christmas Day feast itself. An elegant townhouse on Trumpington Street, the hotel offers an atmospheric bistro, private dining rooms and a chic cocktail bar – plus plenty of luxurious bedrooms if you want to really make a night of it.

Gather up friends or colleagues and taste your way through the celebration menu, which offers indulgence aplenty, from the beef bourguignon to the classic Christmas pud slathered in brandy sauce. The menu starts at £31.95 for three courses, or for £53.95 you can enjoy your celebrations in one of the private dining rooms.

hotelduvin.com   

Tiffin Truck

Spice up your Chrimbo feast with a visit to the Tiffin Truck, which is an ideal spot for casual group eats ahead of a night on the tiles. Order up an eclectic tapas-style feast with nibbles like chilli paneer, chicken 65, kale chaat and masala dosa, or for something a bit more substantial, there are curries like lamb jalfrezi and salmon madras. A few speciality spiced cocktails later and you’ll be ready to hit Regent Street’s various bars.

thetiffintruck.co.uk 

The Willow Tree, Bourn

If this gorgeous country gastro pub out in Bourn isn’t on your radar yet, it should be: glowing fires, twinkling fairy lights and indulgent food make it a perfect location for a wintery feast. They’ll be adding some characteristic sparkle to festivities with a decadent Christmas menu (priced at £32 for three courses or £25 for two), which includes hearty fare like Venison and port pie, roast turkey with all the trimmings, and candied Christmas pudding bites with cinnamon ice cream. Heaven.

feastandfrolic.co.uk

De Luca

The Regent Street favourite – which has been entertaining foodies for ten years – has the open-plan Skylight Restaurant or the more intimate Regency Room for private functions for up to 28 people. Their menu of three courses for £32 features deep fried crispy squid or chorizo arancini amongst others for starters.

For mains, try baked turkey escalope stuffed with sausage meat and dates, rump of lamb with butternut squash purée or gnocchi with roasted rosemary courgettes and pepper purée.

All of this is available throughout December for parties of six or more when pre-booked. There are also options to include a glass of prosecco, a cheese course, or a sorbet course for an additional £4 each.

delucacucina.co.uk 

Madingley Hall 

On 18 December you can dine in style with a glass of sparkling wine when you arrive at beautiful Madingley Hall’s Christmas Party Night. Then enjoy a three-course meal with coffee and mince pies, with classic disco hits to throw some shapes to on the dancefloor afterwards.

Celeriac and blue cheese soup with truffle oil could tempt you for starters, with roast Norfolk turkey, mustard and honey glazed chipolatas, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and cider gravy one very tempting traditional main option. Otherwise try beetroot and assorted squash wellington with wild mushroom sauce, or monkfish wrapped in smoked bacon with parsnip purée.

Tickets are £42 per person, minimum order of four tickets.

madingleyhall.co.uk

Rupert Brooke 

Available from 19 November, Grantchester’s Rupert Brooke offers a scrumptious three-course delight, with crispy pigs cheek or oak smoked salmon among the range of starters. For your main course, as well as turkey with sage and onion stuffing and duck fat potatoes, there’s fillet of hake, or mushroom, stilton and spinach Wellington. For pudding we like the sound of spiced custard tart with crème Anglaise. It’s £28 Sunday to Thursday, or £32 on Friday and Saturday. You could choose to dine in the restaurant or private room and there’s also the option to feast on Christmas Day, with a whopping seven-course meal (£80 per guest).

therupertbrooke.com

Holiday Inn

Impington’s Holiday Inn Cambridge offers festive lunch or dinner throughout November and December in two- or three-course options, with a soft drink on arrival, which can be upgraded to a glass of wine. It includes freshly brewed coffee and mince pies, crackers and balloons. Chicken and cognac pate sounds yum for starters, with bacon wrapped turkey escalope, stuffed with apricot and herb on the list of mains. Prices start from £15.95.

Holiday Inn Cambridge also offers Christmas Party Nights, which features the same menu, but with added DJ tunes and dance floor moves. There are 14 dates available, with prices from £39.95 per person.

You can take the strain from cooking on the big day, with a Christmas Day lunch, with traditional turkey with all the trimmings, or braised feather blade of beef just a few of the mains to choose from. It’s £69.95, with children £34.95, under-fives free.

ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels

Six Cambridge

Slow-roasted pork belly with mustard mash, woodstone-roasted cod with Welsh rarebit, creamy burrata with punchy caponata: the Christmas menu at Six Cambridge eschews traditionalism for big flavours and crowd-pleasing dishes. Located on the sixth floor of the Varsity Hotel, your dinner will come with a side of jaw-dropping views of the city’s skyline, plus the cocktail list is to die for. Desserts, which include mince pie mess and dark chocolate and brandy parfait, look well worth leaving space for too. The Christmas menu is priced at £34.50 for lunch and £42.50 in the evening. Six will be opening its stylish doors on Christmas Day itself too: if you don’t fancy slaving over a hot stove it’ll set you back £74 per person.

sixcambridge.co.uk

Revolution

Downing Street’s Revolution provides a buffet from £14.95, or a three-course festive dining with a feast of classic mains and indulgent desserts from £19.95. You can get your Christmas night out properly started with their made-to-order festive cocktails, too.

At the buffet you’ll find pigs in blankets, prawn and chorizo skewers, hummus and veg batons and hot shot Thai salad. If you go for the courses, starters include sweet potato and harissa soup or pulled ham terrine, followed by roast turkey ballotine with chorizo and cornbread stuffing, or roasted Romano peppers. Gin ’n’ juice cheesecake sounds like a great way to finish off your meal. 

revolution-bars.co.uk

SmokeWorks 

For a Christmas feast with a barbecue twist, check out the huge range of options at Smokeworks, which has branches on both Station Road and Free School Lane.

An ideal option if you’re after something less traditional, the festive menu includes Christmas ribs with pulled pork with cranberry barbecue sauce, fries, slaw and dill pickles (from £20), plus a lipsmacking turkey bunanza: turkey in a brioche bun served with truffled mac and cheese, grilled corn and sweet potato (£17).

Two- and three-course meals (£22/£28) feature low ’n’ slow brisket steak and Smokeworks hog dog among the main choices, with Christmas waffle or New York cheesecake to finish. As well as some tasty craft beers, be sure to sample a Smokeworks cocktail before you head on your merry way – ours is a spiced rum charged iced tea.

smokeworks.co.uk

Hotel Felix

Hidden away in gorgeous grounds near Girton, Hotel Felix is a perfect spot for a memorable winter feast with friends, family or colleagues. Whether you’ve got a huge office party to organise, want a romantic festive minibreak or seek a slap-up Christmas or Boxing Day feast, they have a package to tempt.

With the celebrated Graffiti restaurant taking care of the food, you’ll be in the safest of hands as you relax in stunning surroundings and enjoy the first-class service. Check the website for details on this year’s Christmas offerings.

hotelfelix.co.uk

Bedford Lodge

Set in three acres of parkland in Newmarket, the beautiful Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa is promising to add a little sparkle to your Christmas celebrations this year with party nights, sumptuous dinners and a glittering gala on New Year’s Eve. Throughout December, enjoy the Christmas Fayre menu at celebrated in-house restaurant Squires, which holds 2AA Rosettes and serves a menu showcasing fantastic local produce. Whether a traditional (Norfolk) turkey with crispy roast potatoes and all the trimmings or a pan seared sea bass followed by guava and lime parfait, there’s something for all tastes on the menu, which is priced at £27.50 for three courses at lunch or £37 at dinner. The party nights, running throughout November and December, are perfect for groups of just a few friends or up to 140 guests, and include a three-course dinner with coffee and mince pies, plus a disco. They start at £49.50 per person. There’s also a Boxing Day lunch, New Year’s Ball, and all sorts of festive pampering packages at the neighbouring spa too.

bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk 

Cambridge Cookery & Bistro 

Cambridge Cookery & Bistro, which is celebrating a decade as an award-winning cookery school and three as a successful bistro, wine bar and café, is promising to warm your cockles with all sorts of deliciousness this festive season. Fancy a Christmas party with a difference? Check out their team-building events, which offer high- octane, slick and competitive cooking, baking, cocktails and tastings for teams looking for something above and beyond the usual sit-down meal affair. If you do just want a great feast though, their chic café and bistro, inspired by Scandinavian design, bakes all its own bread and cooks with 100% local and sustainable ingredients, and is open for dinner service for parties and groups.

cambridgecookery.com

University Arms 

We’re confident that the University Arms, which reopened this summer to much fanfare, will be a popular choice for those in search of a Christmas party with wow factor.

The hotel’s interior is stunning; created by renowned interior designer Martin Brudnizki and legendary architect John Simpson, it draws on the history of the building and Cambridge’s heritage, while adding a luxe, contemporary spin. As beautiful as the design is though, it’s the food at in-house restaurant Parker’s Tavern which has got Cambridge-ites really talking – and the Christmas menu, helmed by chef Tristan Welch, will feature locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, with a menu of British dishes imbued with playful flourishes.

Be sure to enjoy one of the hotel’s signature cocktails too: we think The Sixth Man, with bourbon, whiskey and salted caramel, would make a cracking digestif. 

universityarms.com

Murray Edwards College

Whether a large party or a smaller gathering, Murray Edwards College can cater for you this festive season, with the added benefit of being able to offer overnight accommodation for guests. Big groups check out the Dome Dining Room, still available for bookings on Saturday 8 December, which can accommodate 140 cabaret-style on round tables or 210 banquet-style (or even larger numbers if you’re not having a disco or bar). A self-contained space, it can host your whole event, from drinks reception through to dancing the night away.

For smaller parties, there’s the Fellows’ Dining Room with adjacent Drawing Room for drinks receptions and post-dinner coffee. It can seat 40 cabaret-style and 70 banquet-style. This year’s Christmas package is £49 +VAT which includes arrival reception drink, three-course meal, tea, coffee and mince pie, linen tablecloths and napkins, Christmas crackers and decorations for the dining room.

murrayedwardsevents.co.uk 

Arctic Disco

Swiftly becoming one of our favourite after-hours spots, Trinity Street basement bar 2648 has undergone a transformation of late. If you haven’t checked it out, the Arctic Disco on 13 December is the perfect opportunity, promising a “seriously fun office party” complete with festive street food, Christmas cocktails and plenty more seasonal surprises. From the secret tequila den to the grotto, it’s going to be a cool, kitsch night of fun – and you can be part of it for £35 per head (includes one drink, food and entertainment).

2648cambridge.com

Don Pasquale

An institution in Cambridge compared to much younger businesses, Don Pasquale has been serving up fine Italian dining for many years, and their three-course option (£24/£28) for Christmas doesn’t disappoint.

There’s the option to try their festive punch for £4.50 each before you sit down, and after your meal you can opt for cocktails and dancing. We like the sound of Toscana sausage and bean soup for starters, followed by pepper-crusted fillet of beef. For dessert, why not go for panettone bread and butter pudding, or tiramisu roulade. Enjoy!

donpasquale.co.uk 

Brew House

Pub, microbrewery and fine food combine at King Street’s Cambridge Brew House. Whether it’s an office blow out or a dinner with old mates, the festive dining room can cater for six to 30 people, with the Locker Room or Tank Room available to hire.

The festive menu features a two- or three-course option (£23.50 or £27.50) with curried roast parsnip and coconut soup or venison and rosemary meatballs as options to begin your feast. Marinated 10oz rump steak with Shropshire blue cheese sauce sounds fab, as does the butternut squash, wild mushroom and spinach pie. There’s turkey too, just in case you were wondering! You can add bubbles or mulled wine for an extra £4.25.

thecambridgebrewhouse.com

The Plough, Coton

A smart gastro pub nestled in picturesque Coton, The Plough has long been a favourite destination for walkers, cyclists and those simply in search of a relaxing feast away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They’re getting into the festive spirit with a Christmas menu which sings with crowd-pleasers, from the ham hock terrine with homemade plum chutney to start, to the sticky toffee pud with lashings of custard to finish. For mains, you can choose a traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings (including those all-important pigs in blankets), or go for a delicious sounding treacled bistro rump with garlic mash. The veggie option of butternut arancini is well worth a look too.
It’s priced at £30 for three courses.

If you fancy putting your feet up and letting someone else do all the hard work on Christmas Day itself, they’re laying on a sumptuous festive lunch priced at £79.50
for three courses.

theploughcoton.co.uk