Islington’s best Christmas menus


This post was born out of necessity. A couple of weeks ago, I told my uni mates that I would book somewhere for our annual Christmas knees-up*. We do it every year and every year, EVERY YEAR, we find ourselves trying to work out where to go, in a city heaving with restaurants – world-class ones, average ones and downright rubbish ones. I invariably end up compulsively browsing review websites until the date is just around the corner and then panic-booking somewhere. Which is exactly what is happening right now.

Time to sort this sh*t out.

For those of you also trying to organise a cosy Christmas lunch or dinner with friends, let me help you out: Islington could be your answer. Whether you’re local to the area or just looking for a great plate of food, we have enough restaurants and eateries, all vying for your festive attention, to keep even the most discerning of foodies sated.

So I’ve taken one for the team and saved you the faff: here are my pick of the best Christmas menus going this year, from sharing feasts and cosy gastropubs, to fine dining and 5-course menus.

*FYI, guys, as you may now have guessed, this is still TBC. Yes yes, I know it’s next weekend – if you fancy the trek up to Islington… 

1. The meat lovers’ option: Smokehouse

What: Impossibly good gastropub bringing Canonbury the best smoked and grilled meat in town. Log fire and mulled wine guaranteed. Think: sharing platters of venison sausage roll & Smokehouse BBQ sauce; rare-breed smoked featherblade & bone marrow gravy; egg nog bread & butter pudding.

How much and how many: Christmas sharing menu for parties of 8 or more – £39.50/head for 3 courses.

Where: 63-69 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2DG

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

2. The best-chicken-you’ll-ever-eat option: Le Coq

What: Neighbourhood restaurant just off Highbury Corner lauded for its rotisserie chicken and tatties. Simple, mouth-watering food served up in an informal setting. You’ll never accuse chicken of being boring again. Think: sharing platters of apple-wood smoked salmon with rye bread, creme fraiche and pickled radishes; rotisserie chicken with all the trimmings; chocolate ganache tart with honeycomb.

How much and how many: Christmas sharing menu for parties of 8-24 (private dining in their downstairs den for up to 14) – choice of 3 menus for £30, £40 and £60/head (the most expensive gets you a whole suckling pig for the table!).

When: from 24 November.

Where: 292-294 St Paul’s Rd, London N1 2LH

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

3. The midweek lunch option: Oldroyd

What: Opened by Tom Oldroyd of Polpo fame in July 2015, this tiny restaurant serves great food (British, seasonal), great wine, and all at great value. Think: duck liver parfait & poached Provençal fig tartine; cornish crab raviolo & bisque, buttered leeks & caviar salt; confit goose, lamb belly & game sausage cassouletblood orange & campari sorbet; crème brûlée.

How much: Christmas 5-course set lunch – £35/head. A steal.

When: from 30 November, Monday-Friday, midday or 3pm sitting.

Where: 344 Upper St, London N1 0PD

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

4. The perfect gastropub option: The Albion

What: Beautiful, award-winning Georgian gastropub set in the heart of Barnsbury, serving traditional, seasonal fare. The perfect place to while away a wintry afternoon with family and friends. Think: chestnut mushroom parfait, puy lentils, croutons; wild venison haunch, white cabbage, apple caramel, pearl onion jus; Earl grey and clotted cream trifle, ginger biscuits.

How much and how many: Christmas set menu for parties of up to 9 (reduced a la carte for parties of 10 or more) – £35/head for 3 courses.

Where: 10 Thornhill Rd, London N1 1HW

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

5. The farmhouse feast option: The Pig and Butcher

What: Just off Upper Street, this sister pub to Smokehouse is stonking in its own right. Inspired by farmhouse dishes, the attention is on rare breed meats and fresh-off-the-boat fish. Think: a selection of meat and fish board starters (these are awesome); sticky braised beef shin, smoked bone marrow & Roscoff onions; carrot Christmas pudding & brandy.

How much and how many: Christmas sharing menu for parties of 4 or more (private farmhouse kitchen-style dining room upstairs seats up to 24) – £39.50/head for 3 courses.

Where: 80 Liverpool Rd, London N1 0QD

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

6. The trendy option: John Salt

What: Quirky modern space on Upper Street serving up modern European fare and a killer cocktail list in their informal mezzanine dining room. DJs at the weekend. Think: Suffolk chorizo, fennel salami, winter pickles, olives, sourdough toast; pan fried sea bass, celeriac, smoked bacon, chicory & shallots; pear, fig, honey & cinnamon tart, crème fraîche ice cream.

How much: Christmas set menu – £32.95/head for 3 courses.

Where: 131 Upper St, London N1 1QP

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

7. The fine-dining option: The Almeida

What: This restaurant, just off Upper Street and opposite the Almeida Theatre, is so much more than a pre- and post-theatre hangout. Serving up beautiful, modern British food with a French twist in a rather slick setting. Think: venison pate, autumnal vegetables; caramelised shoulder of lamb, chanterelles, cauliflower, leeks; cinnamon and vanilla poached pear, almond, white chocolate.

How much and how many: Christmas set menu for groups of up to 7 – £19/head for 2 courses, or £22/head for 3. Either I’ve missed something or this is an absolute banker.

Where: 30 Almeida St, London N1 1AD

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.

8. The Italian option: Paesan

What: Rustic (in a hipster sort of way) Italian trattoria on Exmouth market serving simple, seasonal, comfort food. Riotous martini bar in the basement. Think: selection of antipasti to start; roast pork belly with cabbage, apples & chestnuts; warm panettone, grand marnier with gelato.

How much: Christmas set menu – £32/head for 3 courses.

Where: 2 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4PX

Like what you see? Click HERE for the full Christmas menu.


If you visit any of these, or have any other recommendations in the area, be sure to leave a comment below – thanks!

Source: Text and photo by pip & little blue.

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