Where to eat out in the Midlands this Christmas

From cosseting country pubs with roaring log fires to sophisticated urban restaurants, here’s Great Food Club’s guide to eating out this Christmas. Each pub or restaurant featured has been visited by Great Food Club and won our seal of approval. Our policy is to recommend independents only and ignore big chains…

The Jackson Stops, Stretton, Rutland

It’s hard to imagine a more chocolate box country pub than The Jackson Stops in Stretton, which dates back to the early 18th-century. Thatched and achingly pretty, with roaring log fires, it has four separate dining rooms, making it ideal for a festive celebration. Experienced chef-patron Robert Knowles runs a skilled kitchen and has secured Michelin Guide listings for The Jackson Stops for three consecutive years. The pub also has two AA rosettes.

The Jackson Stops’ Christmas Lunch Menu, served from November 29, is extremely well priced at £16.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three courses. Stand-out dishes include kiln-roast Peterhead salmon & mackerel saladette with honey mustard dressing (starter); beef & venison pie simmered with port & red wine, hand-cut chips and creamed peas (main); stuffed belly of Grasmere pork, sausage, bubble & squeak mash, red wine jus (main); roast local Tilton turkey with wild sage, red onion & apricot seasoning and Grasmere chipolata (main); and matured Victorian recipe Christmas pudding with mincemeat compote, cognac & vanilla sauce.

Click here for more details on celebrating Christmas at The Jackson Stops. Or call Rob and team on 01780 410237 to book.

Jackson Stops GFC member offer:
10% off all food (excluding other promotional offers), from Monday to Friday. A maximum of four diners per membership card. Please mention Great Food member when booking on 01780 410237 and show your card when paying.

The Queen’s Head at Belton, Leicestershire

This village dining pub (with five bedrooms) in Belton near Loughborough has been beautifully revamped, giving spacious, relaxed dining areas. The cooking is perfect for a cosy country pub: expect stylish, modern examples of classic dishes. This, combined with a perfect balance of friendliness and professionalism from the front-of-house team, produces a hugely satisfying pub dining experience.

At Christmas, The Queen’s Head is great for snuggling up by the fire with a glass of mulled wine. You can indulge in a lavish three-course festive feast with the family, or join them for one of their party nights.

Throughout December, The Queen’s Head will be serving a special set Christmas menu, with festive fare made from seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy two courses for £24.95 or three courses for £29.95.

Starters include leek & potato soup with goats’ cheese & sage fritters (gluten-free on request) and smoked mackerel paté with soda bread, caper & herb salad (also gluten-free on request). Two main course examples are tournedos of turkey breast with pork & chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets, duck fat roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts with red onion & balsamic and turkey gravy; and roast fillet of cod with caramelised cauliflower puree, salsify, kale & clams, brown butter sauce (gluten-free).

For large get-togethers, the private dining room at The Queen’s Head seats 30 (with five bedrooms potentially available for overnight guests).

Click here for more details on celebrating Christmas at The Queen’s Head. Or call 01530 222 359 to book.

The Queen’s Head GFC member offer:
A free bottle of house wine for tables of four having a minimum of two courses. Please mention you are a member when booking on 01530 222 359 and show your card.

Hart’s of Nottingham

A contemporary urban alternative to rural sister venue Hambleton Hall of Rutland, Hart’s is located in the upmarket Park Estate of Nottingham and has won all manner of plaudits over its 20-year lifespan.

Hart’s aims to provide a professional blend of skilled service and modern British cooking in a stylish environment. Head chef Dan Burridge uses top quality ingredients, often locally sourced, in simple, striking combinations. Expect a blend of skilled service and top-class food in a modern and comfortable setting.

A warm welcome awaits Hart’s guests during the festive season, whether you’re popping in for a glass of mulled wine and mince pie in the Park Bar, looking for an indulgent festive lunch, or booking a larger Christmas party at ‘Hart’s Upstairs. Expect the likes of gin & tonic cured salmon with pickled cucumber and dill crème fraiche; local free-range roast turkey with traditional accompaniments; and Christmas pudding soufflé with brandy ice cream.

The two-AA-rosette restaurant will be serving a festive a la carte menu during December, as well as party menus from £32 per person. Alternatively, if you are looking for something a little different, Hart’s Festive Afternoon Tea is a great way to savour Christmas classics during December.

Click here for more details on celebrating Christmas at Hart’s, or call 0115 988 1900 to book.

Hart’s GFC member offer:
10% discount Monday to Friday (both lunch and dinner). Not valid on set menus or with any other offer. A maximum of four diners per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a member when booking on 0115 9881900 and show your card if required.

The Rose & Crown, Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire

The Rose & Crown is a classic village pub that serves excellent food at good prices, alongside great real ales and carefully selected wines. The team, overseen by owners and sisters Claire and Tara, pride themselves on the quality of their food, offering a regularly changing menu and real attention to detail.

A former Food Pub of the Year in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, you can also expect top-notch service.

The Rose & Crown Festive Menu is available from Monday November 26 and features the likes of local Brixworth pâté with toasted bloomer bread, fig and caramelised onion chutney (starter); seared pigeon breast on a salad of bacon lardons, pine nuts & a blackberry dressing (starter); mixed seasonal game stew & dumplings with root vegetables (main); shortcrust leek, mushroom & spinach pie served with creamy mash, buttered kale & a white wine sauce (main); and spiced apple & plum crumble with custard (desert).

Click here for more details on celebrating Christmas at The Rose & Crown, or call 01604 696276 to book.

The Rose & Crown’s GFC member offer:
15% off food at evening dinner from Sunday to Thursday and at lunchtime from Tuesday to Friday. Up to four people per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a member when booking on 01604 696276 and show your membership card when paying.

The Knight & Garter, Leicester

A brilliant option if you want to celebrate Christmas in Leicester city centre, The Knight & Garter offers independent flair and a dedication to quality.

County Winner in the National Pub & Bar Awards 2018, the interior is reminiscent of a sophisticated New York bar, or possibly a smart London steakhouse – not opulent or flashy, but full of smart, contemporary style. It offers a stunning restaurant and a wide range of carefully thought out drinks, not to mention a classy steakhouse/brasserie menu. Its basement Gallery Venue & Bar is idea for a Christmas gathering.

Immense care has been taken in both the design of the pub and in sourcing ingredients for the menu. The hard work has paid off. You can read more about The Knight & Garter here.

For more details on celebrating Christmas at The Knight & Garter, call 0116 303 3310.

The Knight & Garter’s GFC member offer:
Complimentary starter or dessert with all main courses, Sunday to Thursday. Please mention you’re a member when booking on 0116 303 3310 and show your membership card.

The Wheel at Branston, Leicestershire

The Wheel is a down-to-earth, rustic, friendly and welcoming family-run village pub. It hasn’t forgotten how to be an honest hostelry, but is also passionate about good food, high quality beer and making customers feel loved.

Charming and compact with a lovely open fire, this freehouse serves impressive, locally sourced food, often via dishes you wouldn’t expect from a village pub. Walkers are welcome (so are dogs – in the bar) and you won’t be made to feel naughty for treading mud into the quarry tiles and wooden floorboards. The decor is simple, as is the furniture. Expect a warm, friendly and bucolic atmosphere and dishes such as local pan-fried pigeon, celeriac, pickled mushrooms & game chips (starter); and fillet of hake with lemon new potatoes, green beans and artichoke velouté.

The Wheel team, from left: Tristan Crane (front of house manager); Matt Marsden (proprietor & head chef); Phil Marsden (administration); and Lynne Marsden (flowers & gardening)

To book your Christmas party or meal at The Wheel (festive party menu will be served from December 1), call Matt or Tristan on 01476 870376.

The Wheel’s GFC member offer:
10% off the entire bill, Monday to Saturday, lunch and evening. Offer not valid in addition to other offers. Please mention that you are a Great Food Club member when booking on 01476 870376 and show your membership card when paying.

The Four Bells Inn, Woodborough, Nottinghamshire

The Four Bells Inn is a lovely rural pub and restaurant in the pretty village of Woodborough, just a few miles from Nottingham. Surrounded by excellent walks, this pub is family- and dog-friendly. Located in a quirky Tudor-style building, the pub also has a fabulous garden with lots of facilities for the kids.

Owners Craig and Gaynor have placed the emphasis on creating a vibrant, seasonal and varied menu, emphasising ‘Best of British’ food with ingredients sourced locally wherever possible, including fruit, vegetables and herbs fresh from the pub’s own allotment.

The Four Bells’ Christmas menu will be served from Monday November 26 until Saturday December 29. There’s a set menu for £18.95 for two dishes or £23.95 for three. Dishes include wild local goose terrine with cranberries & pistachios, fruit chutney, deli rye & caraway toasts (starter); shin of beef stew with butter beans and crusted onion dumplings (main); and panettone tiramisu with orange & lemon mascarpone and caramelised hazelnuts (desert).

The Four Bells’ menu stands out as just that bit different from your usual pub fare and, combined with friendly service and a good selection of ales and wines, it is an excellent reward after a long walk in the Nottinghamshire countryside.

Click here to find out more about celebrating Christmas at The Four Bells, or call 0115 965 6670.

The Crown, Stamford, Lincolnshire

A Christmas meal at any venue that’s part of the Stamford-based Knead Pubs collective tends to be an enjoyable, buzzy experience. The Crown is no exception. This vibrant pub, restaurant, lounge and 28-room hotel in the heart of Stamford is a great place to be throughout the festive period.

The Crown comprises a bustling bar, fabulous courtyard, characterful lounge, plus informal restaurant and function rooms. Each area has its own character.

The Crown’s Festive Party Menu offers the likes of Norfolk Black Barn turkey served with pigs in blankets, duck fat roast potatoes, sage & onion stuffing & Brussels sprout gratin, followed by traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Expect hearty, traditional, well-cooked food.

This is an ideal place for an informal celebratory meal, especially with the convivial atmosphere and surroundings, which are packed with character.

Click here for more details on Christmas dining at The Crown, or call 01780 763136.

The Crown’s GFC member offer:
10% off the food menu at any time, with a maximum of four people per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a Great Food Club member when booking on 01780 763136 or when ordering your food, and show your membership card.

The Kedleston Country House, Kedleston, Derbyshire

Run by Derby Brewing Company, The Kedleston Country House is a restaurant, bar and hotel that was refurbished in 2015 after a £1.3m investment. Situated a few minutes’ drive from Derby city centre, it’s a beautiful Georgian building that comes with lots of history. Despite its aristocratic air, you don’t need to wait for a grand occasion to eat here. Snackers, casual diners, and visitors eager to breathe in the historic surroundings with a glass or two are welcome too.

The Festive Menu will be served throughout December, and there are plenty of Christmassy events planned too. As well as the traditional turkey option, festive dishes include duck liver parfait with cranberry chutney, chestnut and green bean salad (starter); and ox cheek bourguignon with parsley, bacon and mushrooms.

If you haven’t visited The Kedleston before, we recommend you pay it a visit. It’s a beautiful, historic place that’s been lovingly restored. The well-cooked food and welcoming atmosphere are the icing on the cake.

Click here for more details on Christmas dining at The Kedleston, or call 01332 477222.

The Kedleston’s GFC member offer:
Stay overnight and dine at The Kedleston and receive either a complimentary bottle of house wine with your meal, or two racks of ale. Please mention you’re a member when booking on 01332 477222 and show your membership card on arrival.

The Red Lion at Bradley, Staffordshire

Located five miles south-west of Stafford, The Red Lion sits in the village of Bradley, next to the picturesque 13th century church. Dating back to the 17th century, the pub gained new owners in 2015 who have refurbished it beautifully. The interior is traditional but with all the comfortable, modern touches you’d expect.

The Red Lion’s Christmas Fayre Menu will be available throughout December (excluding Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve when only the Main Menu will be served). Starters include game and pistachio terrine with toasted sourdough and apple chutney; and wild cranberry and brie tart with pickled walnut salad. Mains include roast crown of turkey, sage, onion with cranberry fritter and roasted roots; and slow-cooked beef bourguignon with whipped potatoes and buttered cabbage. Desserts include Christmas pudding chocolate brownie with orange curd ice cream; and cappuccino profiteroles in caramel sauce.

Click here for more details on celebrating Christmas at The Red Lion, or call 01785 780 297 to book.

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