Christmas Dinner

Funny, isn’t it. Summer turns into Autumn and almost instantly my inbox starts to turn with it as people begin to look forward to the festive season, despite its still being just under three months away. This post feels a bit wrong, but I can actually see why Barry is asking this so early – I would be asking the same thing too, in his position. He says:

“We are from Australia and in 2008 stayed with our son who lives across the river on the Isle of Dogs – so we spent a fair bit of time in Greenwich ( and walking there through the foot tunnel :-) )  

We will be there again this Christmas – after sailing over via Suez – and will have nearly 3 weeks in the area. I have been searching, searching, searching  for someplace to have a Christmas Day lunch or evening dinner in the area – within walking distance- with no luck so far.

My son, who has now lived there for going on 3 years, can’t provide any info – so am currently at a complete loss. We are amazed to think that there is absolutely NO public transport on Christmas Day in London.”

The Phantom replies

Yes – the state of public transport on 25th December leaves a LOT to be desired. But no matter, there should be stuff to do around here.

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a chaotic joy. The market’s going full-throttle, there are events all over the shop – look at the Maritime Museum, Fan Museum and Old Royal Naval College for possiblities (check out Ian Visits for quirky events further afield.) Carol services are held at St Alfege’s (I can’t remember whether they use the proper, traditional words in the carols or those grim ’contemporary’ ones) and their Advent Windows (still trying to asertain whether they’re on this year, but I have no reason to think not) are a splendid modern tradition, imitated in various places around the country but born in Greenwich, where a different house/shop/venue displays a special window each day of Advent.

Greenwich Theatre’s panto is a must if you’re into that kind of thing (which I am, and that reminds me - must sort out this year’s trip…) and one year Greenwich Playhouse, just above Belushis outside Greenwich Station did the most wonderful adaptation of A Christmas Carol. The writer, Brian Sibley, has promised me some M.R. James but then wasn’t very well. I live in hope that this year he’s all better and raring to go which seasonal ghost stories…(hint, hint…)

But onto the day itself – a tough call for many places, but I have got some good news. I highly recommend that whichever of the following you choose, you book nice and far in advance, just to be sure. If I get any more replies from local eateries that I rate, I’ll post ‘em up here.

I put out the call to a bunch of local restaurants and pubs (sadly there were a few I couldn’t ask because they don’t have email addresses, they have nasty online forms or they use that irritating phone service provided by beer comparison websites.) I had very prompt replies from some, tardier responses from others, and no response at all from a few.

First the bad news – Guy Awford tells me that neither Inside nor The Guildford is open on the day itself (though of course there will be seasonal menus at other times. Good news for the future is that the promised fine dining upstairs at the Guildford is still going to happen at some point – hurrah.)

For large numbers,  French bistro chain Cafe Rouge is proud that it’s opening Christmas Day – even providing a menu on its website. I didn’t even have to contact them. I often go there if there’s a big bunch of us and I’ve neglected to book a table as there’s always room – but for The Big Day, I suspect that booking is advisable.

The North Pole is also open – they do a £49.95, three course set menu for groups (I don’t know what consitutes a group) – call them for further details.

As far as the Greenwich chain INC are concerned, the Bar du Musee and the rather more upmarket Spread Eagle are both open; they are finalising menus at the moment. I was rather surprised that the other INC staple, the Trafalgar, won’t be opening on the Day Itself, but the other two do make more sense.

Maeve at the Hill  on Royal Hill, tells me they’re open for lunch too, and, as with all the other venues, a special menu at £60. Maeve tells me that three courses, plus Champagne, coffee and mince pies are involved in the festive fare.

Finally, I am delighted to say that one of my favourite restaurants in Greenwich, The Old Brewery will be open on Christmas Day. Like Inc, they’re still deciding on details; give ‘em a call for details.

After lunch, I suggest a little tour of all 24 of  St Alfege’s Advent Windows - though don’t forget a nice bracing between-course stroll around the park is also a cherished tradition for many Greenwich families (including Phantoms…)

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18 Comments to “Christmas Dinner”

  1. IanVisits says:

    Another one to add to the list isn’t IN Greenwich, but does go TO Greenwich, and that is the Bateaux London floating restaurant.

    They usually operate on Christmas day and if running this year could be an interesting choice for people visiting London.

  2. Steve says:

    Very disappointing that the Trafalgar isn’t open. A window seat and a glass of wine would have been a perfect accompaniment for me and mine as we play with our new toys.

    And as for the total lack of public transport, the rail/bus/tube companies get a fair chunk from the taxpayer as it is, so why doesn’t any government, Whitehall or City Hall, have the spheres to make them work over Christmas?

  3. Thanks Ian – I knew you’d have a good suggestion… :-)

  4. OldChina says:

    I just relaised I’m going to be in Tanzania on Christmas day. I’ll have to see if there a Tanzanian Phantom who can profer online advice as to where I can get my Turkey and stuffing in the African savannah.

  5. Steve says:

    OldChina, I’m a recent returnee from several years spent in Arusha. So, if that’s your destination, there are several excellent venues for Christmas dinner, which are very popular among the resident ex-pat community there.

  6. Char says:

    I know it’s a bit of a trek on Christmas day if you’re coming from the Isle of Dogs, but I once had Christmas dinner in Bella Vista in Blackheath. The food and atmosphere was fantastic, and Blackheath village always feels so Christmass.

  7. OldChina says:

    Cheers Steve, that’s good to know! I’ll start looking in to it. I might bring my own paper hat though, just in case.

  8. Steve says:


    I’ll start you off. The very best eateries in town are:

    The (New) Arusha Hotel – 4* hotel in the centre of town. Beautiful restaurant terrace overlooking the gardens and pool.

    Arusha Coffee Lodge – on the eastern edge of town. Beautiful lounge and restaurant among coffee crops.

    Outside town, you can dine among Africa’s wildlife:

    Tarangire Safari Lodge, in the middle of Tarangire National Park, has a restaurant with a terrace overlooking an elephant-lined river. Wildlife regularly strays into the lodge grounds, guests often waking up to see elephants, monkeys and even leopards prowling around. Ask about the leopard that wandered into the restaurant.

    Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is perched high up the mighty cliff that makes up the Great Rift Valley wall. The view can only be described as breathtaking.

    Enjoy. The area is just stunning.

  9. [...] is the original post: Christmas Dinner | The Greenwich Phantom Share and [...]

  10. EnglishRose says:

    I’ve got a feeling that The Gun in Coldharbour might be open on Christmas Day – at any rate, it’s worth checking out as the food’s lovely and it directly overlooks the Thames so ticks the tourist box as well!

  11. Brenda says:

    Also not Greenwich but a short ride away the new Dial Arch in Woolwich is open on Christmas Day. I have the menu right here as so enjoyed my sunday roast like week am tempted to book it. It is £45 for 5 course, 29.95 for children. I have it here but just in pdf form.

  12. OldChina says:

    Brilliant Steve, thanks so much for the recommendations. Very much appreciated. I’ll do my level best to visit at least one of those while there.

    Getting very excited already…

  13. Indigo says:


  14. Indigo says:

    Oops, hit submit too early.


    That’s meant to be a quote from Isaiah,

    A voice crying in the wilderness,
    prepare ye the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.

  15. Rachel B says:

    We are fellow Greenwich fans from the across the water on the IOD but with the current works to the foot tunnel – does anyone know if the lifts will be working on Christmas Day?

    We enjoy a Christmas morning walk over to the park whilst the turkey is cooking – but with no lift service that will be impossible this year.

    Barry – you’ll need to consider this when booking a venue across the river if the DLR isn’t running either.

    Does anyone have any info on this?

  16. Barry says:

    Rachel B

    Am wondering why you are thinking that it would be impossible to walk across to Greenwich Park if the tunnel lift is not working? The tunnel is long and anybody who can walk it can probably also climb the steps. What am I missing :) ??

    BTW – it was cold enough inside the tunnel when we were last there in June – what will it be like in December???


    Barry (who comes from a place where anything below 18C is considered cold :) )

  17. Rachel B says:

    Hi Barry,

    The current building works means that the stairs are closed at both ends so the lift is the only means up and down..

    We are very disappointed as the “jog” up and down is usually our excuse to have a pudding at the pub!

    This is the link to the council website which refers to the works –

    But as the lifts are usually closed on Christmas Day anyway along with the DLR and ferry services we might have no route of being able to get over to Greenwich this year.

    Try to keep an eye on this website, as we will, as it might mean a change to our usual Christmas morning stroll too!



  18. Vanbrugh Boy says:

    Not sure what’s happened at The Hill but called to reserve yesterday and Maeve has gone and the entire team have been replaced. New ownership by the sounds of it – Mediterranean is now on the menu.