Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Bestest #1 Places to go for Christmas Party Season

Whether you’re celebrating with colleagues, meeting up with family or arranging a Christmas get-together for friends; booking into a restaurant over the Christmas party season can be a bit of a nightmare what with having to pre-order and pay deposits for a three course meal at highly inflated prices. Having gone to all that trouble, the last thing you want is a sub-standard meal, but sadly, that’s often the case.

So, I’m saving you a job. I’ve trawled through the Christmas party menus from across Cheltenham, so you don’t have to; and I’ve listed my pick of the bunch here.
For the traditionalists amongst you, it’s Flynns and The Beehive that gets my vote.

You can book into Flynns for a three course lunch or dinner for £27.95, but don’t think about it for too long; I know from experience this place gets booked up double quick! Click here to view the Christmas menu in all its glory. What I liked was the amount of choice with five options for every course. You have the traditional stuff like pate, soup and prawn cocktail; the starter that took my fancy was the Spring onion and Parmesan Arancini Balls. For mains you have a choice of turkey, lamb or chicken supreme as well as a fish and vegetarian option. Sticking with tradition, you can have a Christmas pudding or locally sourced English cheese for dessert; if you’re a chocolate lover like me, it will be the Rich Dark Chocolate Pot, orange shortbread and vanilla ice cream that appeals. Having eaten at Flynns, I can vouch for their fabulous food and excellent service, in fact, I’d say £27.95 at this place is bloody good value.

The Beehive is charging £30 for three courses with complimentary port and mince pies thrown in too. If you haven’t eaten here before, it’s a beautiful dining room with a fabulous tall ceiling and the bar below is always bustling; a great place for dinner, followed by drinks. Again, like Flynns, they offer five options for each course. Starters include Pan Fried Pidgeon, Tomato soup, Fresh Haddock and a Smoked Salmon and Prawn Salad; I was born with an Italian appetite though, so my pick would be Tomato and Mozzarella Stack served with a celeriac slaw and walnut pesto. Delizioso. They do the proper traditional roasts including Turkey and Pork Belly, but also a Beef Cobbler Casserole, Seared Calves Liver, salmon and Tagliatelle Carbonara. Don’t ask me to choose, I’d have to flip a coin between the pork belly and carbonara. As for dessert, I’d want four out of the five options; what with brownies, crumble, White Chocolate Cheesecake and cheese and biscuits on offer (there’s Christmas pud too). To view the full menu, click here.

For those that easily tire of turkey with all the trimmings, there’s a place for you too: Storyteller. This place has an adventurous menu all year round and Christmas time is no different. The cost of the three courses depends on your chosen main course, ranging from £24.95 to £31.95. To give you a taste of the sort of starters on offer, I liked the sound of Shredded Confit Lamb served on crisp pitta, topped with cucumber salsa & mint yoghurt. The meats for main course include guinea fowl, kangaroo, pork shoulder and steak; there’s sea bass for the fish-lovers, and tacos for the vegetarians. My personal favourite would be Roasted Breast of Guinea Fowl wrapped in streaky bacon, served with spiced wedge potatoes, sautéed savoy cabbage with chestnuts and a chipotle, cranberry & tarragon sauce. Not being a fan of Christmas pudding, I’m glad it doesn’t feature on this menu, what they do have though, are two of my all-time favourite desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream and Double Chocolate Mud Pie with chocolate fudge sauce & caramel ice cream. If you have someone in your party who likes more ‘normal’ or plain old boring food, they will try to cater for their tastes, so it’s worth taking a look at the full menu here.

If you have quite a large group and want your very own party, The County Kitchen can be hired out exclusively in the evening for groups of between 20 to 30 people. Your party have the option of two (£20) or three (£25) courses, but once you see the menu, you’ll definitely want all three! You can view the full menu here. Crispy squid, smoked salmon and wood pigeon breast are some of the tasty starters on the menu; for me it was the Creamy Wild Mushroom, Leek and Winter Squash Chowder with Homemade Bread & Butter that made my mouth water. For mains, the Skin on Chunky Chips yelled at me from the menu, they are served alongside Cotswold Rump Steak, Slow-roasted Tomatoes and Mushroom & Chestnut Duxelle. The Split Pea & Coconut Milk Curry served with the Pan Fried Seabass Fillets also caught my attention along with the Pan Seared Chicken Supreme. Basically, I’d have to make sure I was surrounded by people who’d picked all different things from the menu so I could try a bit of everything! For dessert I would choose the Date, Cranberry, Orange & Nutmeg Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Caramel Sauce, but I’d make sure my neighbour ordered the White Chocolate & Cardamom Crème Brulee with Shortbreads so I could stick my spoon in to try a mouthful.

And finally, my last Christmas party menu choice is from The Tavern, and I’ve chosen this one for the trend-setters and followers out there. They’ve put a great menu together with the most current and fashionable foods; and it’s a steal at £25 per head. Be warned, this place do amazing drinks and cocktails, so take a bit more money with you to try a few – it is Christmas after all. Starters consist of Celeriac & Chestnut Soup, Pork and Venison Terrine and Salt Beef. They’ve got the obligatory Ox Cheek as an option for mains, I say obligatory as it seems über fashionable at the moment. I’m obviously not much of a trend-setter or follower, as it’s the Turkey and Ham Hock Pie that made my tummy rumble. I liked that it’s a twist on the more traditional turkey dinner. Desserts include Treacle Tart & Brandy Cream and Buttermilk Pudding & Poached Cranberries or a favourite cheese of mine: Colston Bassett Stilton & Oat Cake. To peruse the menu in your own time click here.

I hope you have a fantastic Christmas party meal, wherever you choose to go, and please do let me know if you book in for any of the above and what you thought of the food.

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