Features

Christmas: where to eat when hitting the shops

Take a break from the shopping with our guide to the hottest places to re-fuel close to some of Britain's best high streets

“So… done your Christmas shopping?” It’s a mid-December refrain that – for many of us – triggers shoulder-gripping anxiety. It’s repeated a few weeks later, when the well-meaning question morphs into “So… get any bargains in the sales?” 

Of course the organised and the practised reply a brisk “yes” to both. They’ll reel off a list of perfectly quirky, thoughtful gifts wrapped, be-ribboned and under the tree; or describe luck with that glorious cashmere piece coveted all season, but snapped up moments ago at 50% off.

Their secret? Planning, luck… and fuel. Whichever town’s streets you are pounding, staunch the energy-drain of shopping (and impose a deadline on yourself!) by booking a table. Go for a half-way break at lunch, or mark the end of a busy day at dinner. Here are some Good Food Guide recommendations close to shopping hubs that will lift your day.

EDINBURGH & GLASGOW

Edinburgh’s food scene bounced into the limelight with some exciting openings in 2019, not least The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage on Calton Hill where the spectacular views will invigorate as much as the ‘perfect balance of rusticity and finesse’ in the contemporary cooking. Hawksmoor and Dishoom are textbook examples of small groups growing successfully – you’ll get a fine steak at the former, and spirited Indian food at the latter. Shopping in Glasgow? Relax into sleek French classics at Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or, or the delights of Gamba where the renowned fish soup will warm, and the seasonal seafood is superlative.

LEEDS

The Man Behind the Curtain is the spot for culinary thrills in Leeds – and it’s at the heart of the city’s retail area. Take your time over Michael O’Hare’s sensational six-course taster menu at lunch (it’s 10 at dinner). For flavour-packed grills (lunch at weekends only) head to the former textile mill, Headrow House, for the popular Ox Club, or round off a busy day with a cocktail – and more – at stylish Japanese spot, Issho.

LIVERPOOL

The punchy Catalonian flavours at Lunya will fill any energy deficit around Liverpool’s Hanover Street shops; check out also the great-value bistro menu at lively Wreckfish, or the ‘off-piste, cross-cultural’ flavours at Maray.

BIRMINGHAM

An upscale choice after some city-centre shopping is Adam’s with its sleek modern British menu that rarely misses a beat. Try sister restaurant, The Oyster Club, a strong new entry in the 2020 Good Food Guide and a place for seafood delights, from oysters and caviar to mackerel on toast or smart fish and chips.

LONDON

Make a day in the capital one to remember. For a treat away from Oxford Street’s frenzy book at the elegant Roux at the Landau with its ‘clear and clean’ modern French menu; it’s just up from the more straightforward but still classy pub food at The Wigmore. For a sip of something delicious paired with classic dishes, slide into Les 110 de Taillevent – you’ll be well looked after! More of a King’s Road shopper? Three appealing new Guide entries are worth a look: go for the ‘distinctive modern [Indian] cooking’ at Kutir, and the delicate spicing at Kahani. And if you find yourself in the Westfield shopping complex near Shepherd’s Bush, walk past predictable chains for something truly special at Endo at the Rotunda where jaw-dropping Japanese food is delivered with a backdrop of incredible views from the top of the former BBC building. Prefer something cosier? Head to Allegra McEvedy’s great value neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant, Albertine.

CHELTENHAM

Cheltenham is a congenial town to shop in, and the ‘precise, full-flavoured and harmonious’ flavours at Purslane, or fresh Japanese food at Koj will keep you going. There’s a similar vibe in Norwich’s historic heart – revive yourself with the top-notch modern British offer at Benedicts or Roger Hickman’s, the lively Japanese menu at Shiki, or globally-inspired vegetarian food at Wild Thyme. Staying east and close to Cambridge’s Grand Arcade shopping heart are ever-popular Fitzbillies for fine café fare, or stylish Parker’s Tavern, where you could review the contents of your bags as you sip something uplifting from the gorgeous cocktail list.

 

Stuck for the perfect present? Get inspired with Gifts of Wonder at John Lewis & Partners or check out wine gifts and hampers for every budget at Waitrose & Partners Cellar. Why not give someone special the knowledge they need to eat well all year with a copy of The Good Food Guide 2020?