Just because it’s December tomorrow doesn’t mean that Christmas is the only game in town. We’re just as guilty as the next guy of focussing on presents and turkey and tinsel and all, but let us take a moment for the other important holidays that fall at this time of year, and give some thought to great spots for celebrations.
St Andrews Day…
… is today! The patron saint of Scotland is celebrated with food, drink, dancing and generally having a riproaring party. And it’s got to be romantic, St Andrews, because that’s where Will and Kate met, yah? You don’t have to be Scottish to take part, or even wear a kilt, but you do have to be ready for a seriously good time.
Boisdale of Bishopsgate restaurant is tartan to its soul: Scottish patron, authentic Scottish menu, giant list of whiskies, jazz, great ambience. Tonight the restaurant is hosting a terrific St Andrews Day dinner in aid of Action Against Hunger, a special event where high profile UK chefs John Burton Race, Martin Blunos and Valentine Warner prepare an Ultimate Game Dinner with wines to match. Cost is £150 and you’d better book this instant.
Albannach restaurant in Trafalgar Square has a heart that will always lie north of the border. It keeps the Hibernian flame lit with Scottish specialties like haggis with neeps and tatties on its British menu all year round. Combine the elegant and dramatic decor with a sampling of the world-class colletion of Scottish whiskies, and you have an evening to remember.
Much older is the Jewish celebration of Chanukah (Hanukkah), dating from the rededication of the Second Temple in the second century BCE. It’s also known as the Festival of Lights for the candles that are lit each evening for eight evenings — a perfect symbol of the light of faith that persists as the year turns to its darkest days. There will be a menorah in Trafalgar Square this year from 3 – 9 December, activities at Brent Cross shopping centre sponsored by the JCCA, and an afternoon of creative candlemaking at the Wallace Collection on Sunday, 5 December from 2pm.
But we at toptable are all about the where to do the feasting aspect of holiday celebrations. Like Bevis Marks in the City of London, a chic gourmet kosher restaurant that’s one of the best in the country of any type of cuisine. The wine list includes bottles from Golan Heights wineries.
In Hendon, Beit HaMadras Kosher Indian Restaurant is always hopping with a happy, chatty, well-served crowd. It’s a little thing, but the sound level here isn’t set at ‘uproar’ all the time, so bringing your family or a group of friends is lovely because conversation can be civil. The tandoori mixed grill is gorgeous no matter what you’re celebrating.
You’re a Sagittarius or a Capricorn. Or you don’t buy any of that guff, but your birthday’s coming up and you want to celebrate. It’s not news to you that you’re up against the Christmas party crowd. Do not fear. We have tactics and suggestions.
1. Play the Christmas crowd at their own game. Right now when you book a group of ten people, you earn enough top reward points for a free meal. And if you book a group of twenty, you earn enough points for two free meals. You can’t redeem points during December, but how nice to save them for the new year. It’s a Christmas promotion, but who cares? Happy birthday to you, that’s what we say.
2. Ring our dedicated events booking team on 020 7299 2949 and let them take the heat off you. Just tell them budget, location and number of guests and they’ll do the heavy lifting.
3. Check out our Best for Birthdays page on toptable and browse a bit to see what catches your fancy.
4. Consider a private room. That way you can get noisy or avoid the braying mobs, however you like to do it, and celebrate in the style you most enjoy.
5. Some offers are available throughout December, like the stylish Awana in Chelsea with 50% off early supper (you’re going on to a club to dance, right?), or The Larder in the City, also 50% off food, but not every evening, or Cinnamon Kitchen in the City, with two courses for £19 plus a glass of Amber Royale all evening on Saturdays.
6. Take a rain check until January. In December the restaurants are hopping, but after the New Year when most people are gazing at their credit card bills in dismay, you can book a brilliant deal at the restaurant of your choice and have exactly the evening you want.
Til then, Happy Birthday!