Use these Christmas tips from Loxleys restaurant to up your festive game this year and enjoy the best tastes of the season.
Stratfordblog has teamed up with the popular Sheep Street eatery to share top tips from Head Chef Paul McCoombes and assistant manager Suzanne Lynch – who certainly know a thing or two about creating a sumptuous dining experience.
So take a few notes and make sure your Christmas dinner goes without a hitch.
Christmas tips from Loxleys
Here, Paul and Suzanne share their tried-and-tested Christmas tips.
Festive food and drink tips from Loxleys head chef Paul McCoombes
Preparation is key: Plan ahead. Get menus ready and have a checklist so you can tick off what you’ve done and what still needs tackling. When it comes to cooking a sit-down meal, get as much as you can ready the day before so you don’t have to deal with all those time-consuming little jobs.
Think about who you’re cooking for: Remember, not everyone can eat the same food. When you’re cooking for a large group, chances are there’s a vegetarian or someone with intolerances/allergies. Make sure you check your guests’ dietary requirements in advance so you can plan. Christmas is also a great time to cater for vegetarians – embrace things like chestnuts to keep the meat-free options festive.
It doesn’t all have to be hot: Think about things you can do that aren’t necessarily hot. Some cold canapes ready for when your guests arrive, perhaps, or a cold starter like a parfait or seafood. That way you’re not trying to keep loads of courses hot.
It’s not all about a big bird: If you’re cooking for lots of people, think about cooking two smaller birds rather than one huge one. That way the birds are less likely to dry out. Also, invest in a meat probe, then you can make sure it’s cooked without overdoing it and making it dry.
Keep it traditional: It’s always tempting to go off-piste, but the festive season is all about tradition so don’t be scared to stick to the old favourites. Roast turkey, veg, all the trimmings and Christmas pudding and brandy cream always go down a treat, so keep it simple.
Have fun: The most important thing is to enjoy it! If you’re stressed out, it will show in your food. So don’t panic, if something’s taking longer than you planned or you have a mini mishap, just pour your guests another glass of fizz and they won’t mind waiting that little bit longer.
Entertaining tips from Loxleys assistant manager Suzanne Lynch
Plan your decorations in advance: Decide on the look you want. Classy? Fun? Simple? Extravagant? And then make sure you order everything you need in plenty of time. Decorating tables and the room itself can all be done in advance to limit any stress.
Pick the right music for the occasion: These days, playlists can all be made in advance, or you can find a ready-made compilation for your occasion. Just make sure it fits with your plans. Nobody wants music to dance to while they’re eating, and if you’re hoping to get people dancing, you might not want to go for relaxing classical music.
People love to be welcomed with a glass of fizz: No matter where you are or what the occasion, fizz makes people feel special. At Loxleys, we start our special meals and events with a glass of bubbles, and like to treat people celebrating a special occasion with a glass of fizz too. You can’t go wrong.
Have a few extra pairs of hands: Whether it’s handing out drinks, serving food or clearing up the plates, it’s always handy to have some extra pairs of hands to help. It just makes things run that bit smoothly. We’d never try to do things single-handedly in the restaurant and it’s no different at home, so make sure you have a few people on hand. After all, Santa has helpers so why shouldn’t you?
Make sure all your guests are happy: No matter what else happens, as long as people are in good spirits, your celebration will go without a hitch. Whether your oven packs up, your decorations fall off the wall or someone drops your spectacular dessert, as long as you have a fabulous festive atmosphere, it just won’t matter. So make sure you have plenty of Christmas cheer and everything else will follow.
Loxleys is serving two- and three-course set menus from now until Christmas, as well as a seven-course lunch or dinner, complete with canapes and fizz, on Christmas Day. Loxleys’ New Year’s Eve celebration includes a five-course gourmet food extravaganza, fizz, live music and a late bar. For more information call 01789 292128.
For all the best festive happenings in Stratford-upon-Avon this year, see Stratfordblog’s list of Christmas events.