Festive Dining In Devon and Cornwall (2006)
Two festive period scenarios diners struggle with are where to eat out on Christmas Day and where to go New Years Eve. The former is usually too depressing for words - restaurants with hungover staff who just don't want to be there (form your own images.) On New Years Eve, venues have normally over-promised and under-delivered and the night's structure deteriorates into drunken chaos. Here's a shortlist of options which should meet expectations and deliver a good result -- expect to pay around £50 per head minimum.
The stylish and a la mode Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay will set you back £80 for four courses -- click here for menu. Here it's about surroundings and location as much as glamour and food quality. A walk on the beach afterwards is priceless. If your Christmas Day is already earmarked for a day at home with friends and family, then you can always go on Boxing Day, where another four course lunch comes in at £48. On New Years Eve they are putting on an impressive night which commences with live music from Cornish artist Joe Francis and designer cocktails as a prelude to an extravagant 6-course dinner. During the evening there will be table magicians along with appearances from the Cornish dance company C-Scape; after dinner a DJ will finish the evening. The cost for this is £150.
At the two-AA-rosette Treasury Restaurant within St Olaves Hotel Exeter, Christmas Day is a tranquil and relaxed affair as this city centre hotel lies quietly inside a walled garden. Lunch comes in at £59.50, then you can retire to the lounge of this superb Georgian mansion or walk in the garden. New Year here will be £65, a more traditional celebration with a dinner dance followed by a Scottish piper at midnight. Also in Exeter the vibrant and modern Abode hotel (The Royal Clarence) is of course home to Michael Caines fine dining and the café bar, both of which have New Year offerings. On the 25th you can enjoy a gastronomic feast in the restaurant for £85, a glass of Champagne on arrival prepares you for the six course modern British menu. On New Years Eve there is more choice, the café bar is offering a younger crowd a cool night of dining and swinging to a soul band at £57.50. The hotel has two options for NYE either a four course Gala dinner followed by a ball with dancing and a casino (£80) or trade up to a seven-course gourmet affair in the fine dining restaurant with an option to join the ball (£99). More information at Michael Caines Festive.
In the Plymouth area is the grand Kitley House in Yealmpton. Surrounded by lovely countryside, this country house sits in 600 acres of grounds. Here NYE is a black tie dinner dance with a champagne cocktail reception, a six course gastronomic menu and a disco through to the small hours at £85. Elsewhere, in the wilds of North Cornwall, Ravals in Camelford have a superb, open plan high-ceilinged dining room which engenders a great atmosphere. Christmas Day lunch here is a great option, with mulled wine and canapés on arrival, you can mingle with other guests before going upstairs for a seasonal blow out at £75. Their NYE package offers a staggering eleven course meal with entertainment and dancing thru till the small hours at £90. More information at the Ravals website.
Over near the Eden Project is Boscundle Manor, a small, relaxed hotel and spa that is running packages for Christmas and New Year that include private tours of Eden including ice skating and the Cornish choirs in the domes. They are accepting non-residents on New Years Eve for an atmospheric night of real fires crackling, pianist at pre-dinner drinks and whilst you dine on a six course tasting menu, between courses, there will be a narration of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, performed by non other than the man's great grandson Gerald Dickens. The NYE dinner is £95 (more information).
The new Nineteen Bar and Bistro at Lanhydrock Hotel and Golf Club, is superbly decked out with contemporary furniture and has a stylish feel. On Christmas day there is a five course menu at £48, whilst NYE sees a Gala Buffet at £36 with a glass of fizz on arrival and live music and dancing to the early hours. Room stay deals are available.
Mousehole is infamous for its Christmas lights and The Old Coastguard Hotel & Restaurant (pictured above) is the perfect place for a gastro interlude whilst visiting. On Christmas day they are offering an £85 six course lunch with wine, which is designed to showcase the hot new talents they have in the kitchen -- namely head chef Stephen Frost (with a background working at Mosimanns Belfry, Le Manoir and City Rhodes), and a young and creative duo Andy Gibson and John Hughes. They also have a superb NYE offering with a fantastic £70 menu during which magicians will visit the tables whilst afterwards there will be a performance by local guitarist and singer John English, ending with a midnight firework display.
Why not take a Christmas day trip out to St Mawes either by car or the ferry from Falmouth and go to the Waters Waters Edge at The Idle Rocks Hotel? For £75 there is a cocktail before the six-course gourmet menu, followed by an airing of the Queen's speech in the lounge. You could walk off lunch with a stroll around the village or up to the castle. On NYE the restaurants theme is a nautical one and black tie and evening dresses are encouraged as you take to the dining room of a cruise ship, all the staff will be in seafaring uniform and there is a Captains Table. An eight-course culinary roster will be followed by live music and dancing and a glass of Champagne at midnight for £75 (more information).
If you fancy an adventure why not get over to the Isles of Scilly where the St Marys Hall Hotel and Cafe de Ferrari have a NYE with a difference. Starting with a boat trip to Tresco and the famous Abbey Gardens, then a quick change into fancy dress (optional) for a tour around the village's pubs, joining the local revellers who traditionally are all in fancy dress. After soaking up the close knit community's spirit, it's back to the hotel's restaurant for a special dinner dance. £345 as part of a three-night break. more info
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