During the festive season, our eating habits often alter. Foods untouched throughout the year are embraced, familiar home-cooking is insisted upon, and special social outings are essential. These seemingly juxtaposed demands are met every year by certain restaurants who come into their own: those eateries that offer both a relaxed comfort and an elevated experience, in their dishes and their atmosphere. In Yorkshire, there are plenty doing exactly that, and we caught up with some of York and Leeds’ finest places to eat up.
Words: Morgan Cope [insta] @oxclubleeds
Leeds is always great at this time of year! We’re especially excited as we reopen the restaurant following a fire back in September. We’ve spent the time away to focus on designing new menus, including the Festive A La Carte. This year there are some amazing Christmas inspired dishes, such as coronation poussin with spiced bread sauce, roe deer tartare with red currents and coco, and brill with roasted chestnuts and Jerusalem artichokes.
This gave us the opportunity to work closer with our favourite suppliers, such as Swaledale’s Butchers, Hodgson’s of Wetherby, and R&J Butchers of Ripon, that supply us with great Yorkshire produce. We’re looking forward to getting out and spending some time in our favourite restaurants and bars in Leeds over the festive period too. This year we have been spending most of our time in North Bar, Wens, The Watermark, Stuzzi, Bundobust and The Reliance. A big shout out to newcomers Sarto too, who are a welcome addition to the Leeds scene!
Words: Ellie Trigwell [insta] @crafthouse_leeds
Eating out in Leeds is a vast and varied experience, with every kind of dining imaginable on offer. From the hustle and bustle of street food eats, to Michelin-starred establishments – Leeds has it all. As winter gets into full swing and the festive season draws nearer, dining out is on everyone’s agenda. But with so many offerings already in the city, how do you find something truly an experience to remember?
When it comes to seasonal dining, we, like Leeds, celebrate in style. For winter, we launch The Islay Winter Terrace with Laphroaig whisky, a beautifully atmospheric dining experience for the colder months. The bar team have created a bespoke cocktail menu combining the best seasonal flavours, all with a dash of the distinct rich Laphroaig: an ideal introduction for whisky lovers and novices alike.
Our chef at Crafthouse, Murray Wilson, is also hosting an exclusive Laphroaig Dinner in our Private Dining Room, serving a specially created tasting menu, which he will talk through course by course, all paired with a selection of warming Islay single malt whisky. And in the New Year, the restaurant will pay homage to Rabbie Burns, with a Scottish inspired tasting menu for Burns Night, including more whisky from Laphroaig’s Macallan, Highland Park, Bowmore and Auchentoshan.
From showcasing seasonal ingredients to these exciting collaborations, we aim to keep pushing dining boundaries, and add to Leeds’ array of unique dining experiences, perfect for making this festive social occasion one to remember.
Words: Ruth Burke-Kennedy [insta] @bettys1919
York is a magical city at Christmas time. It has so much history and heritage and walking round the streets on a winter’s afternoon feels really festive, especially with all the lovely little cafes and restaurants looking so warm and inviting. I go ice skating every year with friends – it has become a tradition of ours – followed by mulled wine or hot chocolate. It’s a perfect winter treat.
Christmas is also one of the busiest times at Bettys, especially for Robyn Cox, known affectionately as our ‘Head of Beautiful’. He is in charge of creating the much-loved Christmas window display and decorating each of our six Yorkshire branches in festive finery. Every year he creates 600 metres of hand-decorated garlands, dresses around 40 Christmas trees, and hangs thousands of twinkling lights in Bettys Café Tea Rooms. This year is Bettys 100th birthday and our shop windows feature an incredible hand-piped street scene capturing the unique character of each of our six locations.
Robyn says: “For many people, Bettys is part of their Christmas tradition, whether it be a Christmas Eve breakfast, a post shopping afternoon tea or a Fat Rascal after a carol service, something about Bettys says Christmas!”
We start preparing for Christmas about a year in advance, so as this Christmas comes to a close we will be looking forward to next year. We look at what has been popular with customers, start creating new dishes and novelties to sell in our cafes and shops, and develop a look and feel for the next campaign. So, in a way, it is always Christmas at Bettys!