Christmas Feast at Chiswick House Cafe

Chis the season to be jolly !

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Chiswick House Trust

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If you want to feel like you are in the country over the Christmas holidays but are reluctant to face the motorway drive,then there is a simple alternative. Get yourself to Chiswick House gardens and within minutes you will feel like you are deep in the Shires. The rolling slopes from the House down to the water, the swans and ducks fighting over bread, and all the nooks and crannies for children to explore make it a special place that is very much part of life in Chiswick.

One of the best reasons for having a walk in the Gardens is knowing that you can visit the Cafe for lunch or a warming coffee. There is still time to try the Christmas lunch menu which is available on weekends until the end of the month. The two-course menu is £13.75 for adults and £6.75 for children, featuring a traditional plate of turkey with roast vegetables (carrots, potatoes and parsnips roasted in oil and herbs), along with crunchy sprouts and chestnuts, stuffing balls, chiplolatas and gravy.

I tried the Christmas menu recently on a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon. Inside all was cheery with carols playing and a beautifully garlanded tree (decorations made from dried fruit) and tables filled by clearly contented diners. A few loyal souls opted for the outside tables so that they could keep their dogs company.

The lunch was delicious, none of the re-heated, tasteless Sunday fodder so common in London these days. We even persuaded my husband,who is a lifelong sprout hater, to finish his greens. The only complaint was the stuffing which was on the bland side. There is a vegetarian option of celeriac and chestnut gratin.

For dessert there was a choice of Christmas pudding and ice-cream or Cranberry jelly. I opted for the latter and begged some double cream to give it a little lift while the others opted for pudding. Children can have some ice-cream as an alternative.In my experience most small children hate pudding.The cafe also has a licence, so if you feel like a glass of wine, it's no problem. I reckon you can do the Christmas lunch for two adults and two children ,with coffees for around £50, more of course if you have drinks.

Some other tables were also opting for the Christmas lunch. They were easily identifiable by the fact that they were pulling crackers and wearing silly hats. However I did see people opting for the regular menu which is still very good value.. For example you can have soup, bread,and cheese for £6.20, a bacon bap for £4.20, stew of the day with bread and butter for £5.65,(or stew, cheese and fruit for £7.35) or savoury tart and salad for £ 7.50. The children's menu is very good value at £2.65 for mac and cheese, or £3.75 for a sandwich or you can opt for the kids combination boxes which include sandwich, drink, fruit etc. Profits from the Cafe help the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust.

For many people, especially the dog-walkers, the Gardens and Cafe are morning destinations, so it might be a good option to consider meeting up with friends for a post-Christmas breakfast. Normally breakfast finishes at 11.30 but on Boxing Day when the Cafe is open from 10.30 to 15.00, breakfast will be served all day and on New Years Day it's also a day for breakfast/brunch only from 11-15.00 hours . A Full English is £7.65 but you can opt for the healthier alternatives of Eggs Benedict or Mushrooms on Toast, as well as other regular breakfast items The manager, Raj, assures me that all cakes are baked on the premises and the coffee is organic and Fair Trade.

Outside the Cafe there is a children's play area and of course you are surrounded by 65 acres of classical Grade I listed gardens which include stunning statuary,buildings and water features. On your walk through the gardens you will see many important historical features; including the Classic Bridge;and the completely refurbished 19th Century Conservatory

It seems illogical to brave the traffic and parking problems of the city when you can park for free and link up with groups of friends at Chiswick House Gardens and Cafe. it's buggy and dog friendly and you can feel virtuous for having a walk in the fresh air. I highly recommend it.

Here are the Holiday openings;

Gardens open from 7 am - dusk (4.10pm at present )

Café open 9:00am – 3pm

Christmas Day-Cafe Closed

Boxing Day- Cafe 10:30am – 3pm

New Years Day-Cafe 11am – 3pm – with breakfast available all day.

For more information about Chiswick House and Gardens and 2012 events go to

December 21, 2011