Turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and brandy cream are a personal seasonal favourite – preparing them is not.
So it’s out into town to find restaurants offering seasonal fare at reasonable rates – and it was not difficult to find somewhere.
In fact in the past week, my friend and me have dined out twice – the bistro at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and the Crescent Hotel, a stone’s throw away.
Let’s do the bistro first – only because it’s where we dined first. Its menu has been designed to coincide with the two shows running over yuletide – No Knowing and Pinocchio.
There is a choice of three starters, £4 each, three mains , £12.95 each, and three desserts, £3 each.
I chose the Wensleydale, apricot and walnut salad with a honey and mustard dressing – which was a delicious contrast of flavours and textures.
My companion, Shirley, opted for the prawn cocktail served with buttered brown bread.
The third option was chicken and cranberry roulade with melba toast and cranberry chutney.
For the mains I decided on turkey ballotine stuffed with sausage meat, chestnuts and plums with roast potatoes, glazed carrots and parsnips. It was served with gravy on the side – it was Christmas on a plate. Sweet roasted carrots and parsnips accompanied crisp roast potatoes and succulent meat.
Fillet of salmon with a watercress cream, dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli was Shirley’s meal. A meaty piece of fish sat on tasty, crisp, creamy potatoes and was declared superb.
The vegetarian option was mushroom Wellington served with crushed new potatoes and carrot and swede mash.
Shirley eschewed dessert but dipped into my rich and creamy mocha chocolate cup with shortbread fingers.
The cost with wine came to just over £52. The staff are excellent, the ambience classy and relaxed and the bistro offers one of the best views of the town at night.
On to The Crescent – where Sunday lunch has been enjoyed on more than one occasion in its classy and relaxed Reflections restaurant.
The Christmas menu is offered at £19.95 for two courses including coffee per person and £25.95 for three courses including coffee per person.
Pearls of seasonal melon soaked in a forest fruit liqueur with crushed pineapple and a fruit sorbet was my starter and Shirley plumped for the prawn dish.
I followed up with slow roasted pork belly in apple and cider jus and Shirley had baked salmon. Vegetables – sprouts, brocolli, carrots and cauliflower – and two types of potato – mash and roasties – accompanied the main.
Our dining companion opted for traditional roast beef with Yorkshire pudding for her main.
Although Christmas pudding and cheesecake were both on the dessert choice, we all three went for dark cherry Eton mess – crispy, chewy meringue with creamy, rich mousse.
The Crescent is a favourite for Sunday lunch and its Christmas menu is just as varied, if not more so. It caters for parties and is offering Christmas Day lunch at £66.95 per person.
RATING: 8/10 each