As the temperature cools and the days shorten, denying the months of festivities around the corner slowly becomes futile. With November knocking and a chill firmly set into the air, I leave my Christmas resistance at the door of Dakota, and step into a world of early Yuletide bliss.
Tucked away on Russell Square and signposted by a tasteful line of sprawling trees – the leaves of which settle around me as I ascend the steps to reception – Dakota is one of the City’s loveliest luxury boutique hotels. The 2019 Christmas menu promises a smorgasbord of flavour, with a simple selection of traditional and more experimental dishes designed for those winter nights of celebration.
We kick things off with a Christmas cocktail in the moody lighting of Dakota’s bar. It’s a heady concoction of every festive flavour imaginable, combined in a tumbler and chilled with a giant cube of ice. Think chocolate liqueur, crème de menthe, mulled wine syrup and rum, and you’ll be on the right lines. More like a pudding than an aperitif, but we all know that at this time of year, pudding is acceptable at every hour.
Merriment commenced, we head downstairs to the restaurant, where we’re greeted by crackers, Chardonnay, Shiraz and a menu packed with Christmas favourites. The starter options comprise a parsnip and chestnut soup and chicken liver and truffle parfait. The soup is thick, creamy and satisfying, and the parfait combines with spicy plum chutney and brioche to make a great start to the meal.
We pull our crackers, become the only diners in the restaurant to don the gold and silver paper hats, and without embarrassment, continue our meal. There’s a traditional turkey dish, with tender breast meat, gravy and a tasty confit leg to add texture and flavour – but you could also opt for sea trout or a vegetarian mushroom and chestnut wellington.
Whatever you go for, expect mounds of goose fat potatoes and a dish of roasted root veg to arrive alongside – all tender, cooked to perfection and packed with that signature Christmassy sweetness.
Loosening our belts and remembering that feeling of warm, slightly over-full contentedness that so befits this time of year, we embark upon dessert. The choice is simple – dark chocolate and orange ‘delice’ with Chantilly cream, or caramel panna cotta with homemade gingerbread.
The chocolate is rich, indulgent and powerful, with an almost-bitter citrusy edge alongside the abundance of cocoa. If you get to try a mouthful of the panna cotta alongside, I highly recommend it – a fresh, creamy tang paired with fiery, crunchy gingerbread makes the whole meal feel complete.
If you’re after a treat of a Christmas meal to get you in the mood for this year’s incoming revelries, look no further than the atmospheric climes of Dakota. It’s got the sparkle, the service and the seasonal spirit to take you all the way to the 25th.
Dakota is taking bookings for its Festive Menu now, with two courses at £25 and three at £30. The full version of the menu includes smoked salmon blinis and baked goats’ cheese starters, slow cooked beef as a main option, and traditional Christmas pud for, you guessed it, pudding. If cheese is more up your street, there’s a hearty selection on there too. Better put that belt back into hibernation once more.