The Otter, Kegworth, December 2015

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” according to Edward Pola and George Wyle, who wrote the famous Andy Williams song. And it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment, because December means Xmas party season and Xmas lunch season. Today is the turn of Xmas lunch – every year I take my team out for Xmas lunch, a small token of appreciation for another year of hard work.

For at least 4 of the last 6 years, we have been coming to The Otter in Kegworth for this event. It is a lovely and welcoming pub, particularly on a cold winter’s day. Although today it was about 14C outside, which is utterly mad for mid-December. Usually it’s much colder, so it’s nice to be here in front of a roaring fire. The canal-side location is also great in summer.

It’s a Vintage Inn, so you’ll know what you’re getting in terms of food, and they also have an excellent online booking system which makes sorting out your reservation a doddle. We all opted for the special festive menu today, but you can all mix and match if you want.

So on to today’s lunch. There are usually a few ales on, today it was Sharp’s Atlantic, a good pale ale that is much better coming from a pump than a bottle.

A good selection of starters to choose from, a couple of us had roasted tomato and red pepper soup, and oak smoked chicken liver pate was another popular choice. No-one chose that Christmas classic, the prawn and lobster cocktail. I opted for the oven-baked garlic and cheese mushrooms, in a simmered garlic and cheese sauce, topped with Isle of Man Cheddar, served with garlic bread. It was chock-a-block with garlic and very tasty.

Next up, the main course. Four things to choose from here, but no-one went for the butternut squash, stilton and olive tart, nor the herb crumbed salmon. Everyone else went for the turkey, with all the trimmings, whereas I went for the slow-cooked short rib of beef, with mash and onion rings. As I’m doing turkey on Xmas day, I generally don’t eat all that much of it in the run up to the big day.

The beef was lovely and tender, falling off the bone. Perfect for a Christmas meal. All of the meals were served with veg, sparking debates about sprouts. Let me just confirm that sprouts are not MOFAD appproved. No way, no how. The Chantenay carrots and peas were nice though.

So finally, to dessert. Christmas pudding was the obvious choice for some, but like the turkey, I save that for Xmas day, and it was double chocolate torte for me, with whipped cream, chocolate fudge sauce and a golden dusted strawberry (a sort of sugary crumb).

Once again, chocolate proves to be the best pudding choice, it was very nice indeed. A great end to a great Xmas lunch. We all had a great time and enjoyed the food. The only thing they need to sort out is the car park – there are never enough spaces on busy days like this!

The Otter is MOFAD approved.