Now is the time for celebrating with family and friends, and the Winchester district’s hotels, pubs and restaurants are ready to welcome you with delicious festive menus. Plus, read on for inspiration to help you host at home.
Hotel du Vin, on Southgate Street, has an abundance of eating options, including celebratory three-course menus, featuring traditional roasts, fish and vegetarian dishes, Christmas pudding and Champagne; relaxed buffets; a Christmas afternoon tea of seasonal sandwiches and mince pies; drinks with optional luxury finger food including salmon gravadlax, and venison and pheasant terrine; and festive lunches available throughout December, and over Christmas and New Year.
Likewise, The Winchester Royal Hotel, on St Peter Street, has an array of menus on offer all month, with traditional starters and mains, and delicious desserts like chocolate yule log with cherry compote, and chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding. It has a festive afternoon tea; plus optional cheese selections, bottles of fizz, and midnight munchies (bacon or roast pork and apple sauce baps) – perfect if you’re staying at the hotel.
The Ivy, on the High Street, is serving a luxury winter menu offering goose shepherd’s pie and ‘Snowball Fight’ (brandy ice cream, white chocolate, gingerbread and cream sauce), besides its all day menu; and Christmas cocktails with homemade apple pie, cranberry, and hot chocolate flavours. While The Old Vine gastropub, on Great Minster Street, has favourites like hand-made scotch egg, lamb shank, and Sicilian lemon sponge pudding on its Christmas set menu.
Until 23 December, Gilbert White’s House, in Selborne, is also hosting Christmas dinners – with traditional dishes like cream of mushroom soup, roast turkey, and rum syllabub; as well as surprises like slow roasted Vietnamese pork belly with Asian slaw, and black cod with coconut rice and sesame greens. With coffees and mini mince pies to follow. The House is serving festive afternoon teas too (also until 23rd) – with a clementine Bellini or a pomegranate and passion fruit mocktail, and choice of tea.
Family-owned, colonial-style Marwell Hotel, at Colden Common (next door to the Wildlife Park), is serving Christmas dinners and afternoon teas throughout the month. Plus, they have a range of private Christmas and New Year’s Eve party packages, which include a three-course dinner, and optional extras like welcome drinks and canapes. Likewise, Holiday Inn Winchester, at Telegraph Way (next door to Winchester Science Centre), has festive lunches, dinners, and afternoon teas.
Of course, Winchester and the surrounding districts have plenty of pubs and restaurants serving delicious festive favourites to suit all budgets and dietary requirements; but if a traditional Christmas dinner isn’t your thing or you fancy something a bit different, there are many more restaurants delivering cuisines from around the world (including Indian, Nepalese, Italian, Thai, Japanese and more) – you’re sure to find something to meet the tastes of you and your loved ones.
Away from eating out, if you’re looking for a drinks experience, visit the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, at Laverstoke Mill in Whitchurch, from 9 – 31 December, for their Christmas cocktails event. Join a gin expert for a mixology session. With hot and cold cocktails, tasting samples, light bites, and mince pies.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on hosting at home, pick up fresh, local produce – including meat and fish for your Christmas dinners – from Hampshire Farmers’ Markets (the last one taking place in Winchester this year is on 12 December); or buy groceries from the likes of Hiltonbury Jerseys Farm Shop in Compton, Winchester – for fresh chicken, duck and quail eggs; Jersey milk from prize winning cows; fruit and vegetables; honey, jams, and more.
If you’re looking for a selection of teas to serve guests who may or may not unexpectedly drop by this time of year, Char Teas, at the bottom of Winchester High Street, stocks over 150 high quality teas from around the world; while MooMooWinchester, based in Crawley, just outside of Winchester, delivers afternoon and cream teas, treat boxes and cakes (made with local, sustainable ingredients).
For drinks, buy locally made Alfred’s Brewery beer from the city’s visitor information centre or direct from the brewery in Winnall; browse Toscanaccio, in Parchment Street, for Italian wines; or take a trip to Hambledon Vineyard, in Waterlooville, to discover their award-winning sparkling wines. Twin with cheese from The Cheese Stall – in Winchester on market days.
Head to Mange2Deli, in Alresford, for artisan bread, cheese, and cured and cooked meats. Or order homemade dishes and more from their online shop. The Naked Grape, also in Alresford, stocks wine, bubbles, ales, spirits and more. The Wickham Chocolate Shop is the place to go for beautifully wrapped chocolate boxes, to enjoy after a meal; and Hylands, in Bishop’s Waltham, will answer all your fruit and vegetable needs. Maybe pick up some seasonal flowers or plant from them too, to dress your table.
Don’t forget to stop by Dinghams, in The Square, for cookware to prepare your festive meals in, and tableware to display your Christmas roasts, desserts, and after dinner cheeses on; as well as glasses for wines and cocktails, and decorative mugs to serve coffees and teas in.
Lastly – while none of us can help stocking up on too many mince pies this festive season – if you want to be mindful about the rest of the food you’re buying at this time (the everyday essentials), and reducing the amount of waste you produce, drop in to Earthian Zero Waste Shop, on Parchment Street, with your own containers to fill with only the amount you need, of staples like cereals, rice, pasta, and nuts. The shop also stocks cleaning and personal care refills.