It may be the year that Scotland is considering going independent, but that isn’t dampening London’s appetite for all things Scottish this Burns Night. Here’s our selection of some of the best places to eat and drink in the name of Robbie Burns, from high-end meals to haggis down the pub, via fusion flavours and whisky tastings.
Unless otherwise stated, all events and menus are for Burns Night itself on 25 January, and it’s worth remembering that as Burns Night falls on Saturday this year, in most cases it’s advisable to book well in advance to secure a spot.
A traditional Scottish menu is in place for the evening at this Shad Thames restaurant with spectacular river views: cock-a-leekie, cullen skink, Scotch broth, haggis and clootie pudding all feature. Dinner costs £25 for three courses or £50 with three matched whiskies.
The three branches of this Scottish restaurant (Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Canary Wharf) are like Scotland’s unofficial embassies in London. To celebrate Burns Night in a historic year for Scotland, they have created a Union Haggis. Made using the heart of Scottish lamb, the liver of English lamb, the lungs of Welsh lamb and bound using Irish barley, it’s the restaurant’s slightly bizarre way of showing they agree with the United Kingdom as opposed to Scottish independence. As well as this politically-minded delicacy, there are special four and five course menus available in all three restaurants starting at £45 with the inclusion of a wee dram of whisky. As an extra, parties of eight or more can pay £8 extra each to hire a personal piper for their table – check their website for all the details.
This picturesque pub in leafy Kew just by the river is laying on a four-course Scottish menu for the big evening, with smoked salmon, the traditional haggis, Scottish venison and a dark chocolate tart with whisky cream featuring. It’s £25 a head, with a complimentary tot of whisky thrown in, too.
The Duke’s Head
This riverside Putney pub is hosting a special three-course Burns Night dinner paired with bagpipes, poetry readings and an Address to the Haggis, for £29.95 per person. Dishes include Arbroath smokie paté, venison with haggis scotch egg, deep-fried Mars bars and Irn Bru sorbet.
Fortnum & Mason
An indulgent four-course menu at this Piccadilly foodie institution features cock-a-leekie soup, haggis with whisky sauce, cranachan and cheese with oatcakes, along with three whiskies, three wines and coffee. All-inclusive tickets cost £75.
Green’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Established in 1982, this St James’s Street seafood bar is a London institution, and it certainly isn’t cheap. A slap-up four-course dinner (see the menu) features plenty of fish alongside haggis and Scottish venison, plus canapés on arrival. The meal is £75, or £100 with matched wines.
Both Clapham and Chelsea branches of American themed Honky Tonk will be celebrating by adding some Scotland-meets-the-US dishes to their normal menus for the night, including a haggis burger, a haggis & black pudding stack and mini-battered Mars bars. There’s also the promise of poetry and ceilidh dancing. Entry is free.
Loch Fyne Leadenhall
This seafood specialist is offering a special Burns Night menu featuring seared Scottish scallops, whisky-smoked salmon and roast hake alongside haggis and steak. Cranachan is joined by Scottish cheeses on the dessert menu. A three-course meal costs £24.95 including a dram of Talisker or a glass of wine. This same menu will also run from 21-26 January (excluding 25 January) with two courses and a bottle of Twisted Thistle IPA available for £30.
Hats off to this sky-high Chinese restaurant at the top of Kensington’s Royal Gardens Hotel for humorously naming their evening Chinese Burns. A good value three-course menu comes with a specially paired whisky for each course and features char siew haggis puff, sesame prawn and haggis toast, and haggis with garlic and chilli oil.
The Nightingale, Balham
This Balham local is offering a 3-course traditional Scottish dinner – including haggis, neeps and tatties – washed down with a dram of whisky for £25. There will also be pipes, some reading of Robbie Burns’s poetry, and an “Ode to the Haggis as performed in a Scottish accent by the Australian Landlord”.
This Shepherd’s Bush gastropub is getting in early with a celebratory Ashes, Smokes and Burns supperclub on Thursday 23 January. The evening will kick off at 7.30pm and include a three-course menu featuring oak whisky barrel smoked langoustine, Scottish mutton haggis, and applewood roasted quince. It’s £30 for the food, with wine and whisky charged as extra.
A three-course menu features cock-a-leekie soup, haggis with neeps and tatties, and a walnut and whisky tart. It comes with a whisky cocktail to start all for £36.
Seven Park Place
This Michelin-starred restaurant set within the plush St. James’s Hotel & Club is putting on a six-course tasting menu featuring haggis ravioli, a smoked haddock soup laced with whisky, and a saddle of Scottish highland venison, among other dishes. It’s £72 per person, including a glass of 18-year-old single malt.
Borough Market’s wine (and whisky) haven is offering a pre-Burns whisky tasting supper on Friday 24 January. It costs £60 and includes a whisky cocktail reception followed by a tasting of four Scottish whiskies and finally a three-course traditional Scottish meal including the Address to the Haggis.
More Pub Grub
If it’s a laid-back plate of haggis, neeps and tatties and the optional wee dram or two that you’re after, then its handy to know that gastropub groups Geronimo Inns and ETM are both serving this traditional dish across all their pubs on Burns Night. Between them that’s more than 40 gastropubs all across London. Use their sites linked above to find your local.
If you’re looking for Burns Night parties rather than just food & drink, then check out our selection of those here: Ceilidhs, Pipes & Haggis: London Burns Night Parties 2014