1 | For Italian Nibbling: Fucina
Alongside Middle Eastern cuisine, Italian will go down as one of 2016's keenest trends on the London restaurant scene. So give Fucina a try: new to Marylebone and just round the corner from A-list haven the Chiltern Firehouse, its high ceilings and sleek design slot it easily into this refined part of town.
It's the small plates that really steal the show, so make sure that you share a good number of them to start. The chicken liver paté comes stuck onto a beautiful marble bowl, with a dose of saba sauce in the middle (like a really syrupy balsamic vinegar with a salty hint of soy). Prawns are served with creamy stracciatella cheese and black truffle, and the delicate beef carpaccio is embellished with white balsamic. It's pretty hard choosing – their burrata and panzanella and all good things will tempt you. Then fill up on a soothing plate of pasta or stick to the meat, done nice and simply. The pheasant with polenta and chestnuts is perfect for this time of year.
26 Paddington Street, London, W1 5QY; fucina.co.uk
2 | For Steaming Cups Of Goodness: R Chocolate
If you say the word chocolate and then add the name Rothschild, you'd have to imagine some serious cocoa action, and we are happy to report that your hopes will not be dashed at R Chocolate, which has been founded by Sir Evelyn Rothschild, assisted by his daughter Jessica and in association with Ben Elliott, owner of the swish Quintessentially Group.
Alongside a Richmond boutique, there is a sparkling new shop and café in Sloane Square, with a counter dusted in gold, an in-house patisserie and a window full of animal-shaped delights that looks straight out of a film (Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp would be suitably impressed). Head in here when the weather turns cold again this weekend for their smooth and rich hot chocolate – it beats coffee for the sheer hit of cocoa and, indeed, the satisfaction levels.
There are plenty of booths to settle down in, from which you can peruse your next treat; the vanilla shortbread will go excellently with your hot drink, and their range of nostalgia chocolate bars is very hard to resist – chunky bars replicating tea cakes, Lion bars and so forth with top quality chocolate and craftsmanship. You'll be like a kid in a, well, chocolate shop, and can get some Christmas shopping crossed off while you're in there.
198 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 8UN; rchocolatelondon.co.uk
3 | For Hangover Relief: Hipchips
'Tis the season to be hungover. So make a mental note now that there is now a café dedicated to crisps for when the munchies strike and you just need some crunchy, salty, satisfying nibbles. It is on Old Compton Street and they have a whole list of different types of spud (they take this all very seriously).
You can choose multiple dips to go in your portable tray, even taking this into a two-course affair by moving from savoury to sweet. There's a fresh kind of salsa with tomato, lime, onion and chilli, and then some smoky baba ghanoush, comforting Katsu curry or, indeed, a cheese fondue. Next up, there's chocolate salted caramel, toasted marshmallows and good old peanut butter and jam. Mix and match as you please: no one's judging you here.
49 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 6HL; hipchips.com
4 | For Alcoholic Juices: Supernatural
Is there such a thing as a virtuous cocktail? The people at Supernatural seem to think so – you may have seen their juice bars dotted around (in Notting Hill, Canary Wharf, Oxford Circus station and so on), where they offer juices and smoothies stuffed with superfood goodness – the buzzwords of our clean-eating-obsessed society abound: kale, Manuka, beetroot, wheatgrass, spinach, coconut, cacoa, chia, maca, matcha, goji… You get the idea. But they also have a pop-up cocktail bar until the end of the month, where they add booze to some of their concoctions to make for cocktails that are, if not good, then less bad for you then normal. Now more than ever might you need this place. Have a go at the Superfruit Margarita, the Green Machine spiked with aquavit or I Fought The Law (Woodford Rye bourbon, fresh pomegranate, vermouth infused with mango and some added citrus).
At Ethos restaurant, 1st floor, Old Spitalfields Market, London, E1 6EQ; sprntrl.co.uk
5 | For Christmas Dinner With A Difference: Dishoom
The set menus forced upon you at this time of year can easily disappoint. And often do. So try something a little bit different at Dishoom if you're tasked with organizing any sort of get together – these guys know what 'feasting' really means so you will absolutely not leave hungry. Your table will be primed with santa hats and bindis, which you should at least pick up even if you're not going to don them, as you'll need to make space for the sheer number of dishes that will appear.
Everything is made for sharing, and once you've moved on from crunchy calamari and their famous bhel, get ready for the whole turkey leg that will have been slow-cooked for a whole day and served Indian raan style, so a bit like a rich, succulent leg of lamb. But turkey. Don't worry – it works, and this is by no means dried out either. It comes with a rich and satisfyingly savoury cranberry chutney, Bombay potatoes and greens. There will also be the beautiful house black daal, paneer, lamb kebabs, chicken biryani, naans, rotis… need we go on? If you've got room, sneak in a "naughty" chai for pudding: a grown up, Indian-inspired egg nog.
Carnaby, King's Cross, Shoreditch & Covent Garden; dishoom.com