24th September 2020
This Christmas, more than ever, booking ahead and careful planning are required to make sure that you have the festive get together that you deserve after such a challenging year.
Nicholas Rudd-Jones takes a look at a selection of establishments across our region. Whilst party nights are not going to be possible this year, conviviality amongst small groups is still on the agenda. I have been incredibly impressed by the determination of our wonderful local restaurateurs to forge ahead and make sure they are offering the very best within the current government guidelines.
Barnsdale Lodge re-opened in early September and has since received glowing reports of its hospitality. Check nearer the time to see what is on offer for Christmas lunches.
Barnsdale Lodge, The Avenue, Exton, Rutland LE15 8AH, 01572 724678, barnsdalelodge.co.uk
The Chubby Castor
Undoubtedly some of the finest food in the region, see our review in this month’s issue. The festive offering sounds fabulous. From 2–23 December (normal opening hours), there’s a Set Menu at £25 / £30 A La Carte (ALC); a Tasting Menu at £80/£130 (with wine flight); and Sunday Lunch from £26. On Christmas Day, lunch (12pm) is a five-course tasting menu from £100 per person, while Boxing Day (evening only) the ALC Set Menu starts at £55, while the Tasting Menu is £80/£130 (with wine flight). On New Year’s Eve at 6pm, the Tasting Menu costs £100/£165. Then, from 2–24 January, the ALC Set Menu is from £55, while the Tasting Menu is £80/£130.
The Chubby Castor, 34 Peterborough Road, Castor PE5 7AX, 01733 380801, thechubbycastor.com
This has become a very popular pub, under new ownership since January. The owner has decided to keep an eye on changing regulations before settling on a Christmas offering, so our advice is to call or check the website nearer the time. They also have heated outdoor space.
Exeter Arms, 28 Main Street, Barrowden, Rutland LE15 8EQ, 01572 747365, exeterarmsbarrowden.co.uk
Hambleton Hall celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and its offering remains as super-smooth, impressive and exhilarating as ever. The six-course Christmas Day Lunch or Dinner Menu costs £190 per person and would surely be the ultimate treat!
Hambleton Hall, Hambleton, Rutland LE15 8TH, 01572 756991, hambletonhall.com
The Hatton Arms
The Hatton Arms is an incredibly welcoming and convivial pub, and their Christmas menu always represents great value. Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date details.
14 Arnhill Road, Gretton, Corby NN17 3DN, 01536 770268, thehattonarms.com
Hitchen’s Barn has become Oakham’s go-to eating establishment. You can be sure that the Christmas menu will be great value and equally excellent quality.
The restaurant will be open on Christmas Eve for lunch and dinner, on Boxing Day for lunch, on 27 December for lunch, and 28 December for lunch and dinner. They are then closed for their winter break, reopening with the Lunch for Less campaign on Friday 15 January 2021.
Hitchen’s Barn, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6DH, 01572 722255, hitchensbarn.co.uk
The Kings Head
The Kings Head will have its Christmas menu on offer throughout December. On Christmas Eve, from 5–9pm, they’re hosting a Christmas Eve Jumper Party – £25 per head with food and a best jumper competition. On Christmas Day they are offering one sitting only, for a four-course meal at £75 per head. There will also be a Boxing Day Brunch, perfect if you are also planning to do the Lyveden Way walk (featured in this issue).
The Kings Head, Church Street, Wadenhoe, PE8 5ST, 01832 720024, kingsheadwadenhoe.com
The Lake Isle
We find dining at The Lake Isle is always an exceptional experience. This year they have a very strong Christmas offering, which runs throughout December. The team here are always that little bit more ambitious and interesting in what they produce, and the three-course Festive menu looks to be truly exceptional value. A sample starter for the Festive lunch, for example, is smoked haddock arancini, curried mayonnaise, quail’s egg, crispy onions, almonds, pickled raisins and herbs. The à la carte Festive dinner is offered from Monday to Saturday evenings; the Festive lunch runs from Tuesday to Saturday (three courses, £24.50).
On Christmas Eve, the four-course menu is £49.50, then on Christmas Day there is a five-course menu for £99.50, which includes a glass of Kir Royale on arrival. We feel sure their Christmas main will be one of the best around: ‘Roast breast of Norfolk turkey, pancetta sage and onion stuffing, honey roast chestnuts, goose fat roasties, traditional accompaniments.’
On Boxing Day, the three-course lunch menu is £49.50. The New Year’s Eve offering is £70 and looks strong too, offering something a little lighter after the Christmas festivities, for example ‘Monkfish and Atlantic scallops, saffron arancini, paprika almonds, charred stem broccoli and sauce vièrge’.
Subject to COVID guidelines pertaining at the time (at time of printing, the ‘Rule of Six’ had just been introduced), they have a number of upstairs ‘snug’ rooms for private dining for tables of five upwards – also available on Monday lunch times and Sunday nights for bespoke parties and groups.
For full menus, please visit the website.
The Lake Isle, 16 High Street East, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9PZ, 01572 822951, lakeisle.co.uk
Normanton Park Hotel
Normanton Park has had fresh energy injected into it under new ownership, and as always, has stellar views across Rutland Water. The Festive Lunch is available Monday to Saturday throughout December and is £15.95 for two courses or £18.95 for three.
Santa Sunday Lunch is available on 20 December for £21.95. Enjoy a three-course Sunday lunch with a visit from Santa and a gift for all under 12s. Festive Afternoon Tea is also available throughout December. Festive High Tea is £14.50, with mulled wine £16.95, and with a glass of fizz £19.95.
The Christmas Eve Menu includes a welcome fizz or orange juice and costs £35. The Christmas Day Lunch Menu is £79 per person and £39.50 for children (under 12).
Normanton Park Hotel, Normanton Park Road, Normanton, Rutland LE15 8RP, 01780 720315, normantonpark.co.uk
The Olive Branch
Throughout December, the unfailingly impressive team at The Olive Branch will be offering their Winter Lunch (for Less) – two courses for £22.50 and the third course £6: a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts, all seasonal dishes. Also on offer throughout December for lunch is a five-course Festive Tasting Menu £55 – festive-inspired dishes plus snack, coffee and festive treat. There’s also the option of adding matching wines or matching beers with each course.
And in the evening, they have a Winter Dinner Menu (two courses for £32.50 and £39.50 for three courses; includes a choice of six starters, seven mains and six desserts – all seasonal dishes) and a seven-course Festive Tasting Menu at £75, with festive-inspired dishes plus snack, coffee and festive treat. There’s also the option of adding matching wines or matching beers with each course.
Parties on separate, socially distanced tables of six in the Barn can pre-book any of these menus. The Olive Branch team will also be warming up the gazebo and offering outside festive dining!
The restaurant is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. It will be open on Boxing Day, when lunch is three courses plus coffee and treats for £65.
The Olive Branch, Clipsham, Rutland LE15 7SH, 01780 410355, theolivebranchpub.com
The Willow and Brook
Married couple Jim and Suzanne took over the pub this year just before Covid-19 struck, but nothing would deter them, and they are now back to great acclaim. Jim has 25 years of culinary experience under his belt, and Suzanne has a passion for delivering excellent service and warm, memorable hospitality. We expect great things of their Christmas menu – it will be their first festive season, and we wish them all the very best. Check out the menu at thewillowandbrook.co.uk.
The Willow and Brook, Kings Cliffe Road, Apethorpe PE8 5DG, 01780 470509, thewillowandbrook.co.uk
As more menus come online, we will be alerting you to them in our regular fortnightly email. Sign up to keep in the loop!