Ah, December and January. The time of the year for office Christmas knees-ups and New Year feasts among old friends.
But while we might like to spend a bit more to get a bit more, pockets tend to be, shall we say, not particularly well lined at the end of the year. So here’s a mix of restaurants – some for keeping things deliciously affordable, others for when food and drink is most definitely on the company account – who accommodate group bookings especially well.
Pizza East Shoreditch – Provided you can slap down a booking quick enough to secure one of the giant 20-cover tables at Pizza East’s Shoreditch outpost, you might want to extend invites to the whole family – great aunts, cousins twice removed, et al. It all helps to ram home the idea good pizza should be wood-fired, kindly priced, and subject to the mouths of the whole table.
Tayyabs – 1972: the year that bought us ABBA, the digital wrist watch, Jude Law, and Tayyab’s spiced lamb chops. At £4.20 per portion (four by last count), these are arguably the best value slabs of meat in London. Order them for the whole table, get some keema naan bread and some seekh kebabs in, and your table-for-ten will be singing.
Ivy Market Grill – Well known for its sizeable and ornate settings, The Ivy brings more in the way of affordable luxury to central London with its Covent Garden grill. Crowd-pleasing dishes (think crab linguine, shepherd’s pie, rib eye steak) make up most the menu, which suggests even Sulky Sally from Accounts will be well catered for. As for extra large parties, it’s worth noting the restaurant has two private dining rooms, one of which seats up to 40 guests.
Berners Tavern – Jason Atherton’s Nth addition to his still-growing restaurant empire was named ‘best restaurant interior’ by two publications in consecutive years. The winning combination of good looks and great food makes Berners Tavern a top choice for an end-of-year gathering.
Brasserie Zedel – Just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus is a 200-cover dining room with a 1930s old world charm about it. Did you just walk into a private club, reserved for ambassadors and B-list celebrities? As prices would suggest, no: sumptuous French classics, including steak au poivre and confit du canard, often for less than a tenner.
HotBox – For the uninitiated, masters of meat, smoke, fire, and fellow street-food-traders-cum-restaurant HotBox share similar philosophies to the likes of Smokestak and Pitt Cue. Bringing the BBQ indoors means it’s for winter nights as much as it is summer afternoons in the backyard, and just as democratic – long benches can seat up to 12 on any given booking, so (hopefully) no one misses out.
Sartoria – London’s not short of fantastic Italian restaurants, and Francesco Mazzei is one reason why. When he was a nipper, Sartoria’s now chef-patron worked in his uncle’s gelateria while the rest of his family were making olive oil, baking bread, and curing their own salami. Those looking for a communal, welcoming establishment will be pleased to know these ideals of family comfort and good simple food has successfully translated to Mazzei’s Mayfair setup.
If you’re still looking for somewhere to host your festive feast or office party, visit OpenTable to find and book the perfect restaurant.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.