1. The Charles Bathurst Inn
The AA don’t give out Rosettes for nothing, and the Charles Bathurst Inn have earned one for their finely-wrought British classics. Their Christmas parties include four courses (if the roast turkey and honey roast ham with chestnut stuffing and trimmings doesn’t grab you, there’s pork belly with tempura prawns, grilled turbot with bouillabaisse or chestnut and Harrogate blue macaroni cheese) plus bed and breakfast and, most excitingly, a disco.
Arkengarthdale, Richmond DL11 6EN
0333 700 0779 www.cbinn.co.uk
There's a sight more invention on the menu than the traditional carve-‘em-up turkey drudgery here, and a blend of tradition and innovation: try the Severn and Wye smoked salmon with beetroot and goats curd, followed by a game pithivier with parsnip and apple purée or the North Sea hake with artichoke and hazelnuts. Pick from two or three courses at lunch or dinner, starting at £21.95.
The Biscuit Factory, Stoddart Street, Newcastle NE2 1AN
0191 260 5411 www.artisannewcastle.com
Head Chef Murray Wilson minted his style of classically-informed but sharply contemporary cooking at The Yorke Arms and the intensely hip Norse in Harrogate, and has turned Horto, which was originally a four-month pop-up, into a permanent fixture here. The formula of an under-appreciated cut – mallard, say, or pig cheek – being backed up by the kitchen garden, which provides more than 100 salads, herbs, fruits and edible flowers, is a winning one.
Rudding Park Hotel, Follifoot HG3 1JH
01423 871350 www.ruddingpark.co.uk
4. The Duck House
While duck houses have yet to get over the mauling they took in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal, this Duck House is altogether more elegant and respectable, not to say far less morally outrageous. A three-course lunch is £25, and dinner is £30, and when you’ve got pan-fried scallops with fennel and green olives and pot roast partridge with spiced cabbage and game sausage to pick from, that’s a steal.
2–3 Town Hall Buildings, Princes Street, Corbridge NE45 5AD
01434 634368 www.duckhousecorbridge.co.uk
Christmas it may be, but Finbarr’s has gone through something closer to the Easter story in the last six months: once dead, they’ve rolled away the stone and come back so strongly that they’ve practically done the Charleston out of the crypt. Their Christmas menu is esoteric, taking in traditional turkey and trimmings, oriental salmon, and steamed mushroom crêpes with parmesan cream.
Aykley Heads House, Aykley Heads, Durham DH1 5TS
0191 307 7033 www.finbarrsrestaurant.co.uk
6. Mr Nobody
There are a few different spaces here with different feels and different menus, but head to the cellar restaurant for the eight-course Christmas tasting menu. It’s eclectic: the über-traditional (game terrine with pickled roots) rubs up against the international (hot Valrhona chocolate fondant) and the street food-inspired (spiced Crimbo doughnuts with rum custard centres). Please note that Living North does not generally endorse use of the word ‘Crimbo’, but we’ll make an exception here.
163 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LY
0113 246 7013 www.mrnobody.co.uk
7. Osaki at Lotus Lounge
Under the hand of 24-year-old wunderkind Toby Marshall-Robertson, this pan-Asian fusion restaurant has come on leaps and bounds in the last six months. The Christmas menu is pleasingly inclusive, taking in Western ways via turkey and steak as well as giving some favourites an Eastern spin – try the salmon and king prawn laksa with egg noodles.
32–34 High Street, Yarm TS15 9AE
01642 355558 www.lotus-lounge.co.uk
8. Pleased To Meet You
No-fuss, high-grade British food treated with respect: what else can you expect when David Kennedy, formerly of River Café on the Tyne, is pulling the strings in the kitchen? Dill-cured Loch Duart salmon is followed by butter-roasted turkey and trimmings, then their own Christmas pudding and handmade festive chocs.
41–45 High Bridge, Newcastle NE1 1EW
0191 340 5137 www.ptmy-newcastle.co.uk
9. The Punch Bowl Inn
House parties are, with the exclusion of Noel’s, absolutely brilliant, and when you’re in the wilds of North Yorkshire they’re even better. The Punch Bowl Inn’s house parties give you afternoon tea, a champagne reception, three-course dinner from their seasonal menus (the guinea fowl supreme is a big favourite), an overnight stay and a full Yorkshire breakfast. There’s also the guarantee of no Mr Blobby – he tends to stay at the Savoy these days.
Low Row, Richmond DL11 6PF
0333 700 0779 www.pbinn.co.uk
Side-stepping the usual is rather Silversmiths’ thing; hence, they’re doing a slow-braised turkey terrine with duck fat roasties rather than your workaday roast, and the melding of invention and tradition continues across the menu: try lemon sole Arlington, King’s cake tart, and Lane End Farm pulled pork bon-bons. One for the curious.
111 Arundel Street, Sheffield S1 2NT
0114 270 6160 www.silversmiths-restaurant.com
Head Chef Adam Hegarty, like pretty much every great chef in the North East, felt the influence of Terry Laybourne while training under him as a young chef, before heading to Claridge's in London. Now back in the North East, he’s put together an extremely exciting Christmas menu which has a reassuringly classical English bearing: pan-roasted pheasant with pancetta and the braised shin of beef with pomme purée are the standouts.
20 Grange Road, Darlington DL1 5NG
01325 483787 www.trufflerestaurant.co.uk
12. Wynyard Hall
Knocking around a vast country mansion and estate is a great chance to wonder what it’d be like to be an 18th century aristocrat, wearing stockings and having attacks of ‘the vapours’. Wynyard Hall is a mighty fine example with mighty fine food. The two-AA Rosette Wellington Restaurant is a cosy retreat doing modern British dishes, but if you want something a extra special then book the State Rooms and have a private dining experience. Go on. It’s Christmas.
Wynyard, Billingham TS22 5NF
01740 644811 www.wynyardhall.co.uk