10 best places to celebrate Burns Night in London on Saturday

Whisky, poetry, and the obligatory haggis: London has plenty on offer this Saturday

As Scotland prepares to vote on whether to terminate its 307-year political partnership with England this year, the southerners had better make the most of what could be our final Burns’ night as constituent members of a united Great Britain.

But which establishments should you go to in London to enjoy a roaring Rabbie Burns’ night? There are many elements to consider – level of Scottishness on offer, Burns-related entertainment, quality of haggis, single malt selection, the volume and proximity of a potential bagpipe maestro…

With these fundamentals in mind, we take a look at the best places in London in which to get your beak into a boiled jumble of sheep entrails doused in alcohol. It’s all in the name of poetry, which basically means anything goes.

So don your kilt, leave your underwear at home, and prepare to toss your caber into one of these fine institutions:

1. Boisdale’s

The three branches of Boisdale’s in London, in Canary Wharf, Belgravia and Bishopsgate, are practically like unofficial Scottish embassies in London – a service we may eventually need if Scotland takes the high road to secession. Think tartan carpets and wood panelling, with galaxies of single-malts glittering behind the bars.

A politically-inspired menu offers “Union haggis” for Burns’ night, which incorporates ingredients from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Owner Ranald Macdonald is not keen for the UK to say goodbye to Scotland. Menus for three courses including whisky begin at a very reasonable £35, though the five-course Macallan Ruby Bannockburn Burns menu will set you back £75.

2. The White Horse on Parsons Green

Burns’ night at this ale-oriented South London pub is not done by halves, and over the last few years the White Horse has gained a hard-won reputation as a premier Burns-celebration venue.

A five-course beer and food dinner is on offer, with Scottish brewery Brewmeister providing ales to match the grub. Diners will be treated to the accompaniment of a piper and a master of ceremonies. Book ahead to avoid disappointment, at £40 a head, it’s certain to be very popular.

3. Reach for the Bunting Burns Banquet

With music and dancing led by the Ceilidh Liberation Front, the Reach for the Burns Banquet could just be London’s most exciting Burns’ night celebration. A three course feast at Brady Arts Centre in Whitechapel includes the mandatory haggis and neeps, and also offers a vegetarian option. Food is followed by dancing, and the website says to expect Ode to a Haggis, the Ceilidh Liberation Front, cocktails and spandex. £30 gets you entry and three courses.

4. Quo Vadis

Soho restaurant Quo Vadis is offering a straightforward set menu of haggis and clapshot for Burns night, with the added bonus of a piper playing Scotland’s national instrument at dinner on the 25th. The menu from this Dean Street restaurant centres on the Scottish background of head chef Jeremy Lee.

Clapshot, for the uninitiated, is the traditional mixture of potatoes, swede, turnips and chives. Quo Vadis is perhaps a good choice for a more laid-back Burns’ celebration. The set menu costs just £16.

5. Fortnum and Mason

At the other end of the scale, Piccadilly’s famous Fortnum and Mason are offering a mouth-watering four course Burns’ supper, featuring cock-a-leekie soup and haggis with whisky sauce. Expect bagpipes, “warmly witty speakers” and poetry. The £75 ticket price also includes three wines, three whiskies and coffee.

Haggis 2 Robert Burns

Statue of Robert Burns in Edinburgh

6. 1 Lombard Street

If free whisky isn’t incentive enough to wear a kilt, then you’re doing your life all wrong. For everyone else, the folk at 1 Lombard Street are happy to supply kilt-wearing gentlemen with a tot of single-malt for the trouble. The City restaurant is offering “a piper, poetry and whiskies galore” to get you in the mood for traditional Scottish food. A three course menu is on offer for £45.

7. The Duke’s Head

This Putney pub is doing Burns night with a sense of humour. The well-priced menu (just £29.95 for three courses), includes the quintessentially Scottish option of deep fried Mars bar and Irn Bru sorbet. Diners will also be treated to a piper, poetry readings and “an address to the haggis”.

8. The George

The George in Belsize Park is offering a sporran-friendly four course meal for just £25. Each guest will receive a free dram on the way in. Smoked salmon, the obligatory haggis, Scottish venison and chocolate tart with whisky cream make the menu excellent value for money.

9. The Cricketers

If The George in Belsize Park isn’t in your neck of the woods, then this beautiful pub in Kew is offering the same menu - £25 for four courses with a complimentary tot of whisky thrown in for good measure.

10. Scotland

Ok, Edinburgh may not be in London, but direct trains mean the Scottish capital might be more accessible than you think. While the journey may not capture the hardships that Burns endured when he made his way from Ayrshire to Edinburgh on a borrowed pony in order to sell his poems, it will undeniably be faster.

Jump on at Kings Cross, celebrate Burns’s memory by drinking and reading poetry all the way to Scotland, and arrive in Edinburgh with plenty of time for afternoon sight-seeing. Enjoy a hearty supper, stay the night, and be back in London in time for tea. At the time of writing, a return ticket leaving on Saturday and returning on Sunday costs a very reasonable £102. Hoots mon!

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