Throughout December, Stylist is inviting you to revel in the simple joy of cosiness. From finding the perfect scarf (and effectively swathing yourself in it), to planning a weekend getaway at a rustic country pub, our content over the next month will endeavor to give you that warm, snuggly feeling inside. Here, learn how to create the perfect cheesy feast. Welcome, dear friends, to the Institute of Cosiness.
For us, winter time is all about indulgence. Not that we hold ourselves back at any time of year, but the hubbub of celebration that builds up throughout December makes it an even more exciting time to eat and drink ourselves merry.
And, whether you’re in the mood for a roast dinner or a gooey raclette, there are so many cosy restaurants in London that have atmospheric decor and delicious menus to suit the season.
Check out our festive edit of the best restaurants to visit in winter, and plan a Friendmas that blows all other out of the snow.
You say winter, we think cheese. And not just any cheese, but raclette, which reminds us of French snowy mountains and all things cosy. But if you can’t quite afford a plane ticket to Méribel, then what about an oyster card to Brixton where the Raclette Brothers have set up their first permanent restaurant.
In typical alpine-style, the eatery, which sits inside POP Brixton, is floor to ceiling wood, with old-fashioned skis strung up on the walls as decoration. Come nightfall and reels of fairy lights give the space a warm glow and the long, sharing trestle tables add to the cosy feel.
However, what you really want from a raclette venue is cheese. Lots and lots of gooey, melted cheese. And the menu doesn’t disappoint. We’re talking raclette served at your table and drizzled all over potatoes, pickles and maple-bacon Tartiflette, a traditional alpine dish of roasted potatoes, crème fraiche, wine, pancetta, reblochon and garlic bread. Are you dribbling yet? We most certainly are.
Where is it? Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, London, SW9 8PQ
The Booking Office, King’s Cross
Ornate Gothic architecture and festive red bricks make the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel a stand-out venue at any time of year, whether that be for a Spice Girls music video or for a seasonal get together. But it’s at winter time when this hotel, and its restaurant The Booking Office, really comes into its own.
This is a venue where the cocktails are a real thing of beauty. The entire ‘Tails of Discovery menu has been created entirely from the mind and imagination of the head bar tender, drawing on many of his own travels and experiences. The St Pancras Sorbet for example was created after he tried some exquisite clementines at a market in France and is served in a coupe glass with a mound of tangy, homemade clementine sorbet, topped up with Veuve Cliquot Champagne. We can vouch that it is utterly divine. While the Lavender Vesper takes lavender and honey from Britain and mixes it with vermouth and bee pollen from France, for a perfume-ly delicious and smooth drink.
The special 2018 winter menu also deserves your attention. too: think starters like Puy Lentil Caviar and Smoked Veal Belly, and mains of roasted guinea fowl and 28 day aged beef fillet.
Where is it? The Booking Office, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Rd, London NW1 2AR
Simpson’s in the Strand, Covent Garden
With Somerset House’s ice rink around the corner, and the lights of the South Bank’s Christmas market reflecting onto the water just behind, the Strand is a pretty atmospheric place to be at winter. But enjoying a festive feast at Simpson’s in the Strand takes it to the next level.
Having taken residence on this iconic London street since 1828 and adjoining to The Savoy, one of the capital’s most famous institutions, this decadent restaurant is all about British tradition (aka one of the biggest trends for Christmas this year).
Famous for its roasts, it’s the perfect place to warm up for Christmas dinner with a menu laden with delicacies such as oysters, salted ox tongue and roast Yorkshire estate grouse. But the real showstopper is the restaurant’s signature trolley service, which is wheeled around daily to offer a traditional serving of bronze turkey and saddle of lamb.
While you’re there, be sure to try a cocktail at Knight’s Bar. Our pick is the Mineral Martini, which includes vodka, oyster shell, dry sherry and sea essence.
Where is it? Simpson’s in the Strand, 100 Strand, London WC2R 0EW
There are five Hawksmoors to choose from in London, but we particularly like the Air Street branch because of its hidden away location. Tucked out of sight from busy Regent Street, it resides on the first floor of an inconspicuous venue, meaning you can dine on some of the best steak in the city while secretly watching shoppers below.
Dark wood flooring, black marble surfaces and beautiful stained glass crescent-shaped windows all come together to make for a sophisticated snug to hole up in on a winter’s evening. And the food will warm your cockles, too, because this restaurant prides itself on serving up top-notch roast dinners and high-quality British bred beef, which go wonderfully well with the specially chosen wines on the menu. What’s more, guests are welcome to bring a bottle of their own on Mondays, for just a £5 corkage fee. Now that’s what we call a very, merry Christmas.
Where is it? Hawksmoor, 5A Air Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 0AD
Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury Hotel’s Dalloway Terrace is currently a vision of silver and icy whites with gleaming pine cones, branches and fairy lights suspended from the ceiling. And there are plenty of furry throws and blankets for guests to snuggle up in, too. In terms of the food, the Christmas-ready menu has multiple highlights, including truffle cheese fondue served with rustic bread (right?!) and pigeon pie with creamed potatoes and savoy cabbage.
There’s also a healthy selection of winter cocktails made with Balsazar, like Mulling it Over with Balsazar Reisling, Tanqueray, milk and sugar or the Hug in a Mug, with Balsezar White, Cachaça, Yaguara, chamomile tea and honey.
Where is it? Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street. London, WC1B 3NN.
The Glenlivet Glade, Holborn
Tucked away inside the courtyard of Rosewood London in Holborn is a secret cabin that will transport you to a magical woodland glade in the furthest reaches of bonny Scotland. Taking inspiration from a winter’s scene in the remote Livet valley in the Highlands, this rustic cabin is intended to make you feel like you’re a million miles away under a dark night’s sky, alight with billions of stars.
The interior of this immersive winter terrace has been decorated like a starry night, with plenty of candles, throws and cushions to keep you snug. It’s an intimate space, so the perfect place for a catch up with your best friend or a date.
The drinks menu has been especially crafted to reflect the space, using Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky to make several twists on an Old Fashioned and Hot Toddys, too. We would particularly recommend trying out the Red Candy, which has a sweet foam on top, and don’t forget to tuck into the food menu too: the Stone Bass in almond butter is a must.
Where is it? Glenviet Glade, Rosewood Hotel, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
Images: Courtesy of venues