Burns Night in London
“Some hae meat and canna eat, – And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit” – Robert Burns
Crack the whisky and get out your kilt because once again, Burns Night is upon us! Today marks the annual celebration of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard, with people around the world celebrating his birthday eating haggis, drinking scotch and reciting his poetry.
But, who is Robert Burns and why do we celebrate him? Firstly, his most famous poem Auld Lang Syne has made it into the Guinness World Book of Records for being one of the most popular songs of all time, and he has influenced musicians from Bob Dylan to Michael Jackson- who even created a whole album of Burns’ poems transformed into show tunes.
After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, there are more statues of “Rabbie” Burns than any other non-religious figure in the world and astronaut Nick Patrick took a book of his poetry on a space mission in 2010.
So, we’ve found the best local places to celebrate Burns Night (haggis optional…)
Bourne and Hollingsworth Burns Night Party, Clerkenwell
You’ll be hard-pushed to find a more traditional Burns Night in London than here. Listen to live bagpipes as you enjoy a cocktail reception, before moving in to the greenhouse for a 5 course Scottish supper created by Executive Chef Adam Gray. Then “the Selkirk Grace will be recited, the haggis piped in, addressed and toasted, the immortal memory enacted, live music played, toasts to the lassies and a vote of thanks as the dinner draws to a close with everyone joining hands for a rendition of Auld Lang Syne”.
Aside from being in Scotland itself, you’re not going to get more Scottish than this.
The Jones Family Project, Old Street
The Jones Family Project is usually a steakhouse and grill- but don’t fret- they still have a great Burns night menu, and they even have their own “Jones Dram”. Tuck in to mini haggises, venison wellington and layered cranachan (raspberries, shortbread, whisky cream, toasted almonds and oats) whilst sipping on The Jones Dram cocktail: Chivas Regal 12 year blended scotch and Drambuie, served in a Quaich and garnished with a twist of lemon peel.
Plum and Spilt Milk, King’s Cross
Taking their name from the original uniform of the staff aboard The Flying Scotsman, Plum and Spilt Milk are offering a traditional 4 course supper with whisky pairing. Start the night with abroath smokie, leek and whisky soup with Dalmore 12 whisky, before moving on to venison loin, haggis, “neeps and tatties” with Dalmore 18 and 15 respectively. Finish off your supper with traditional Cranachan and Dalmore King Alexander Whisky.
Merchant’s Tavern, Old Street
£40, £65 with whisky, 5:30pm
Burns Night at Merchant’s Tavern is Burns Night with a twist. Menu creator Neil Borthwick presents a French inspired Scottish menu, including haggis croquettes, salmon and dill mousse, red deer haunch of venison with creamed cabbage endive and Scottish heather honey tart. “Rabbie’s Dram Cocktail” mixes Laphroig 10 Year Old peated whisky, Drambuie, cherry Heering, grapefruit and honey. Vegetarians are also welcome with an alternative menu.
Voyage of the Black Haggis, Spitalfields
With the night being sponsored by Hendricks Gin, this is probably the least traditional on our list- but is by no means the least tasty. Ally Martin, the UK Ambassador for Hendricks Gin, will be performing Robert Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” after already having performed it in Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester (yep, all in the same day). Expect Martinis, haggis hotdogs and nuggets, and traditional Scottish fun.
The Wilmington Public House and Dining, Clerkenwell
You’ll find another traditional Burns Night in the heart of Exmouth Market at The Wilmington. The four courses include twice baked Arbroath smokie soufflé, seared Scottish scallops, haggis scotched quails egg, neeps, tatties, Highland venison wellington and dark chocolate and raspberry raviolis. Vegetarian options are available on request and entertainment for the night comes from Lynn Calder, the “bagpiping boxer”.