Trimming the Turkey
Published by Jack Pike on 19/12/2019
The Christmas debauchery descends upon us in December. So much mulled wine, mince pies, pigs in blankets, roasted chestnuts and more is inhaled during the silly season that come January most are left gagging for moderation.
Central to the revelry is, of course, a classic Christmas feast, with roast turkey and all the trimmings. Turkey has adorned British Christmas tables ever since it replaced roast beef or goose in Victorian Britain.
In the restaurant world many seek to re-invent, transcend or transform the classic turkey feast to offer customers something original.
To find out more, we asked three of the top restaurants on the south coast what they would be offering customers this year.
Seafood restaurant English’s of Brighton has embraced its limited ability to serve a traditional Christmas feast, and Restaurant Manager Andre Pienaar said that guests flock there for that very reason.
“In the past we used to make more of an effort to conform to traditional Christmas fare if with a slightly cheffy twist,” he commented. “However, we are increasingly placing ourselves as a Christmas alternative.”
Pienaar continued that customers come to English’s of Brighton to swap turkey for fish, saying "we have come to celebrate that rather than fight it."
Classic bistro Wild Flor in Hove is sticking to traditional game throughout the season with hearty, richer meat dishes.
Wild Flor restauranteur Rob Maynard explained that pheasant would feature on the menu, as well as a beef cheek with celeriac and black truffle (pictured above).
“Of course, there are sides of sprouts and bacon too, and bread sauce all over the place,” he said. “We like to always be pouring a healthy amount of Burgundy. With game birds especially, the lighter hand of Cotes de Beaune reds show well.”
However, while Wild Flor and English’s of Brighton offer up a twist on the long-established Christmas feast, the more conventional punters need an outlet that provides them with what they desire.
One such establishment is the Crown in Hastings, which has built a reputation for serving top quality British seasonal food & drink.
Landlady Tess Eaton explained that in previous years the Crown stayed away from a traditional turkey dinner, instead opting for birds such as pheasant and partridge.
But she said that: “We found that a lot of the Christmas party bookings simply wanted their hit of turkey! This year it makes an appearance, along with the obligatory sprouts and roast potatoes.
“There is a line between pushing the boundaries, but also giving people what they wish to eat.”
Fashions and fads will come and go, and restaurants will continue to innovate, but the Victorian Christmas roast turkey will always be a mainstay on the British restaurant scene.
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