Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London

Chase away the dreich January chill this Burns Night at one of the London venues offering the chance to feast on fine Scottish food, knock back a dram or two and make merry – tartan, optional

Hogmanay hangovers but a distant memory, 25 January sees
Scots all over the world raising a glass to poet, lyricist and
raconteur Robert Burns, who was born in the Ayrshire village of
Alloway on this day in 1759. Following the maverick wordsmith’s
death in 1796, his friends got together to throw a supper in his
honour, complete with toasts, bagpipes and whisky, and the
tradition has stuck. While most of us will have sung along (perhaps
while dancing shambolically) to Auld Lang Syne, fewer are aware of
the influence the writer had on his homeland and beyond. Through
collecting folk songs, revising and adapting them, Burns helped to
preserve a rich cultural heritage, while his political and civil
polemics have made him a hero of the people to this day.

Whether your interest lies in exploring poems such as To a
Louse, A Red, Red Rose and Tam o’Shanter, or stretches only as far
as trying a deep-fried Mars Bar for the first time, we’ve rounded
up five places to go for a taste of Caledonia this Burns Night.

Five top London spots to visit on Burns Night

Burns Night Dinner at Boisdale
A haggis at Boisdale, Begravia

Haggis dinners at Boisdale, Belgravia

Barge East, Hackney

Travel – in spirit, anyway – to the Scottish Highlands on
Hackney Wick’s award-winning restaurant aboard a 120-year-old
barge. The four-course menu begins with Scottish langoustines and
oatcakes, followed by “neep-a-leekie” soup (“neep” being Scots for
turnip, and what kids north of the border had to substitute for
pumpkins at Halloween until the late-80s). Following a break for a
dram or two of whisky – Copper Box’s smokey, oaky Glasgow Blend –
the feasting continues with braised mutton pie and then, after a
toast to the “chieftain o’ the puddin-race”, haggis, neeps and
tatties. To finish (you off), there’s cranachan ice cream with
tablet, and deep-fried Mars Bar. No room left for Scotland’s
dirtiest dessert? Take yours home in your sporran.

Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Ln, E9
+44 20 3026 2807

Carousel, Fitzrovia

Now in its new home on Charlotte Street, culinary collective
Carousel has gathered four leading Scottish chefs to whip up a
gastronomic homage to Rabbie Burns. Representing Edinburgh’s Heron,
Ullapool’s The Dipping Lugger and Glasgow’s Epicures, the
contemporary menu will showcase the best of Scotland’s natural
larder, with highlights including Orkney scallops, Jerusalem
artichoke tart, and roe deer and haggis, paired with The Botanist
gin-based cocktails, Bruichladdich whisky and a programme of
poetry. If you like what you see in the White Room, check out
Carousel’s calendar of bookable experiences, which include wine
tastings, cookery masterclasses and food photography workshops.

19-23 Charlotte St, W1T 1RW
+44 20 7487 5564

Burns Night, Barge East

Burns Night on board Hackney Wick’s Barge East

Boisdale, Belgravia

Looking to keep it traditional this 25 January? Make a beeline
for Boisdale of Belgravia, one of London’s only dedicated Scottish
restaurants, where diners can expect a line-up of live music acts
(including pipers), whisky from Annandale Distillery and a
selection of menus featuring the likes of oak-smoked salmon, wild
venison and dry-aged beef. The showstopper, though, will be the
ceremonial Dumfriesshire Blackface haggis, made in the heart of
Burns country. While the Scots still tell tourists the haggis is a
small furry creature that roams its hills and glens, it’s actually
a savoury pudding containing sheep or calf offal, minced with
onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and stock, historically cooked encased
in the animal’s stomach, though now manmade casing is often used
instead. Vegetarian options are available.

15 Eccleston St, SW1W 9LX
+44 20 7730 6922

Deeney’s, Leyton

Honouring Scotland’s most famous wordsmith with a toastie might
be a less-orthodox way to celebrate the Scottish poet’s birthday,
but no less delicious for it. We’ll be popping into Deeney’s Leyton
High Road branch to gorge on the same kind of delicacies –
including the signature Hamish Macbeth haggis toastie – that have
made its weekly Saturday Broadway Market stall such a hit. Can’t
get there in person? Order a Deeney’s Burns Night meal kit and make
it a DIY hootenanny to remember. The box comes complete with
everything you need for a three-course supper, plus full
instructions, and also gives you access to a live-stream address to
the haggis. Or, if you happen to find yourself in Tokyo on Burns
Night, you can now visit Deeney’s Japanese outpost, located in
Jingumae, near the Olympic Stadium.

360 High Rd, E10 6QE
+44 20 3759 0582

Walmer Castle, Notting Hill

Fresh from a major revamp, this west London pub has been
reimagined as a restaurant, cocktail and whisky bar, bringing – in
collaboration with The Craigellachie Hotel – the essence of
Speyside to the capital year-round. Think forest-green velvet
banquettes, exposed-brick walls and mounted stag heads framed by a
froth of foliage. Kilt-wearing is particularly encouraged on Burns
Night, when there’ll be live music, whisky galore and the
traditional toast to the haggis. Alternatively, go à la carte for
comfort-food dishes that include crispy monkfish tacos, a lobster,
crab and shrimp burger, and fish and chips with minted pea purée.
Prefer your whisky in a cocktail? Try the copper spaniel, a warming
blend of Copper Dog, Craigellachie 13, ginger, honey and lemon.

58 Ledbury Rd, W11 2AJ
+44 20 4580 1196

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