Almost 215 years since the death of Scotland’s most famous poet, Burns night has become an established part of the London culinary calendar, with its popularity growing every year. We look at some of the best places to get the most from you haggis this year – and a few places to cut loose once you’ve eaten your fill of the “chieftain o’ the puddin-race”.
THE RIB ROOM
Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Cadogan Place 20-25 January £50 for four courses
The newly re-opened Rib Room is offering an array of classic seasonal Scottish dishes given a modern twist by head chef Ian Rudge. Crowdie cheese, pickled vegetables, beetroot, roasted walnuts and croutons is followed by pan-fried scallops with a Cullen skink and cauliflower purée.
Then it’s onto the main event with a loin of Highland venison with haggis and chestnut casserole, parsnip and apple. Desserts include cranachan, chocolate and Drambuie mousse and Dundee cake soufflé. Tunnocks-inspired petit fours accompany your coffee. Upgrade to the Buccleuch private dining room for £100 a person and receive a bottle of Glenmorangie Astar Single Malt to share and an additional middle-course of haggis, neeps and tatties welcomed by a piper.
HIX AT THE ALBEMARLE
Brown's Hotel, Albemarle Street, W1S 4BP 25 January £32.50 for three courses
Executive chef Lee Streeton has created a special Scottish menu, with starters of cock-a-leekie soup, tatties and pickled herring with capers or Kingairloch venison salad with woodland mushrooms. Haggis is first on the list for the main but those unconvinced by the signature dish can go for Shetland Island mussel stew with fennel or fillet of Peterhead cod with razor clams and Orkney bacon. To round it all off there is a choice of tipsy laird (a traditional Burns night trifle dessert), cranachan (a creamy pudding served with raspberries) or a Scottish farmhouse cheese board with red onion chutney.
16 Balham Hill, London SW12 9EB 25 January £15 for a tutored malt tasting
A special event in the pub’s Blue Room features a tutored malt tasting, complete with Scottish canapés paired with each dram. Hosted by a series of whisky experts, the night will include a ‘how to’ in perfecting the five-step tasting system: colour, body, nose, palate and finish. Guests will be able to sample more than 20 varieties from the four main whisky producing regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Islay and Speyside. There will also be a selection of tastings of the blended varietals of Auchentoshan and Bowmore alongside single malts such as Talisker, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie and Oban.
Hammersmith Town Hall, King St, W6 27-28 January £25 entry
Burn off your haggis with three hours of Scottish country dancing with a twist. The Ceilidh Club (pronounced kay-lee) has live bands to bash out the tunes while you attempt to dance the likes of the Gay Gordons, Eight Reel and the Dashing White Sergeant. For those who didn’t have the advantage of growing up in Scotland, there is a caller who will help you get to grips with the steps. Imagine a giant Scottish wedding without the aire of menace and you’re pretty close. A great way to finish up your Burns celebrations.
Booking in advance is a must, with tickets expected to sell out.