It’s beginning to look a lot like we need to eat out this Christmas

By Christi Nortier 19 December 2018

The candles are lit. Someone’s prematurely pressed play, so Michael Bublé is warming up. The Christmas tree lights strobe half-heartedly. The presents look beautiful, placed so that the sloppy corners are hidden. The beef is marinated and the trifle set. Father Christmas smiles. Until the dog lifts its leg on the tree as the lights go out. It’s time to let someone else fire up the blowtorch to flambé this Christmas. It’s time to have Christmas lunch out.


It is only after years of failure that you learn to control yourself at Christmas so that you don’t gorge yourself sick (literally). It’s a food lover’s delight. It’s 24 hours of non-stop eating… if you want it to be. If you love a bite of every pie, then go for a Christmas lunch buffet.

Instead of clubbing together to get Auntie Woolies to lay out the feast for you, put it towards a seat at the Pink Lady’s lunch in the Sherwood Room at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson Hotel. This is the hotel’s original dining room. The dress code is smart and the menu is a balance between traditional fare, such as turkey, and more unusual options like roasted springbok loin with labneh.

A Christmas tree sparkles in the lounge of the Mount Nelson Hotel. Photo: Christi Nortier

If you are a bit worn out by the traditional Christmas stuffing, then consider Moyo in Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town. Each has a unique menu and price, but the buffets are extensive countrywide. A possible plate could be Senegelese line fish, Moroccan rice, veggie smoor and samp.

After lunch, stroll across the promenade from Moyo uShaka and have a sundowner at the Moyo uShaka Pier Bar. Photo: Facebook

Christmas is special for kids, so keep them busy with baking at Café Paradiso (Tamboerskloof) or frolicking on the lawns of Franschhoek’s La Petite Ferme. Their baking project and lunch come to R100 and adults can enjoy an Italian-style Christmas lunch with the salad and pasta courses to boot. La Petite Ferme offers a home away from home meal served “family style” on the table.

Café Paradiso sits behind a wall of flowers to create an intimate garden feast. Photo: Christi Nortier

La Petite Ferme boasts views of beautifully plated food and mountains. Photo: Facebook

If traditional Christmas is what you seek, look no further than Societi Bistro. Their Christmas Plate features gammon, turkey, Yorkshire pudding and potato bake swiftly followed by a fruit cake, trifle éclair “cracker” or a chocolate Father Christmas. Otherwise, there are fish dishes or their usual a la carte menu.

The Societi Bistro Christmas fruit cake is served with a ‘jug of brandy’. You be the judge of how big a jug they might mean. Photo: Facebook

In Jozi, Forti is offering an Italian Christmas feast friendly to vegetarians, pasta lovers and diehard Christmas dessert fans. If you have an aged hippy in your family, this is a good option. Picture vegetarian risotto, Parmigiana melanzane and Christmas trifle with sherry.

Fortunato Mazzone’s Forti is on the top floor of the Sun Time Square Casino. Photo: Facebook

If the mall Christmas music has had you feeling claustrophobic since June and the local Tops is closed for Christmas, then head to the Winelands for fresh air and wine on demand. Simonsvlei has plenty of room for play and a menu for kids and toddlers. It’s a seated meal of the traditional Christmas fare – there’s even tongue. Diemersdal does a fine-dining Christmas and notably features an egg nog granita palate cleanser and smoked whiskey butter. The Christmas lunch we all wish we could create.

Keep your skapies in the kraal at the [email protected] play area. Photo: Facebook

Diemersdal sets the type of table you wish you could. Photo: Facebook

For a fine-dining Christmas in Durban, book at the Chef’s Table. It is after all Eat Out’s 15th best restaurant in South Africa and their chef was the 2017 Eat Out Rising Star of the Year. If not, consider the Big Easy at the Hilton Hotel in Durban for a smart take on Christmas lunch but which keeps the traditional crackers, hats and giving of gifts.

Chef’s Table serves up a Christmas dessert. You know a place is fancy when they serve the cream in a little rugby ball shape like that. Photo: Facebook

Don’t knock into the wine cabinet when you dismember that cracker. Maybe sit on the terrace. Photo: Facebook

The candles are lit. Michael Bublé has bowed out because the power is still off. The wrapping paper has been recycled. The lamb and trifle are stored to feed the family for the next month, until the next pay day. Everyone is fed and so full of cheer that they don’t mind cleaning the tree.

Father Christmas smiles. DM


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