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Christmas is the U.K.'s equivalent of the U.S.'s Thanksgiving – a time for the entire family to race back to the parents, gather round the table and gorge -- or so it was thought.
More than 1 million Britons will choose to leave the home comforts behind this Christmas and opt for a restaurant, according to a new report by pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butlers.
The reasons behind casting aside the oven gloves are simple. The average Christmas meal takes nine hours from preparation to putting the cutlery away – and that doesn't include the extensive pre-shopping.
Katie Bregazzi, press office spokesperson for Mitchells & Butlers, says that people primarily choose to dine out for Christmas as it allows them to "spend more time with the family."
Philip Benton, research analyst at Euromonitor International Ltd suggested that eating out at Christmas may not be cheaper, but "the cost of the meal is usually shared", therefore it means there's less stress and time.
It has a lot to do with "premiumisation," Benton says. "People are eating out less, but when they do go out, they're more willing to pay extra for a special occasion."
In general, the main factors that prompt families to eat out include spending quality time with loved ones, celebrations and avoiding cleaning, according to Mintel's Attitudes Towards Family Dining report.
To dine out in London alone, the family Christmas meal costs only £56.92 ($88.65) per person, compared to the national average of £52.58. That comes in at less than a third of the total price of a home-cooked meal of £178, the Mitchells' report concludes.
Not on the 'foodie' high street
How about those who want to dine out in style? Extravagant London restaurants will be serving up set menus for Christmas, a day when most places are closed.
Halibut with caviar and lobster consommé at Marcus Wareing's restaurant, the Ritz Hotel's chestnut gnocchi with cauliflower truffle and the traditional desserts of Yule log and Christmas pudding are set to be featured on some of the high-class menus; costing up to £400 per head.
The Ritz Hotel on London's Piccadilly is offering Christmas lunch at £400 per person. For that guests get a six course meal and an array of entertainment including a caricature artists and live entertainment. The meal includes expensive cuts of venison wellington, lemon sorbet and goose liver, whilst not forgetting the mince pies.
Three Michelin-star Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester has a Christmas Day Lunch at £295 per head. Featured on the six-course feast is black truffle, caviar, cockles and Norwegian lobster, none of which would be found typically at home.
Two Michelin star restaurant Marcus, at Knightbridge's The Berkeley hotel offers six courses with complementary wines at £375. Courses include the must-have cheese course and a range of meat from goose to Galloway beef and halibut.
Benton believes that going to places like the Ritz isn't necessarily for those who are wealthier, but goes back to "premiumisation".
"Christmas has become more of a commercial holiday", he said, therefore "the consumer-fuelled holiday" makes people less inclined on focusing on the traditional home aspects, and makes them more willing to splash out more.
Turkey isn't the favourite
Turkey is losing its crown as the traditional Christmas main course, as almost half of the meals ordered at Mitchells & Butlers' Harvester chains won't include Turkey.
In fact, 16 percent of Brits will choose not to chomp down on the time-honored turkey, but instead 50 percent will focus more on confectionary and more ordinary food, according to a recent poll by the Salvation Army, a charitable organization.
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