New Year’s Eve is probably a distant memory for most, but next week there will be the chance to sing Auld Lang Syne all over again as the country celebrates Burns Night. Scotland may have come very close to leaving the union last year but towns and cities across the UK still toast its favourite son, Robert Burns, every 25 January. Here are our picks for the best places to celebrate Burns Night in London…
For special Burns Night events…
On Thursday 22 January Scottish comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli will host Burns Night at this Maida Vale gastropub, which won all-round praise in this year’s survey for its food and “buzzing bar on the ground floor, upstairs dining room and dining conservatory”. The special menu by head chef Aidan McGee includes a Scotch whisky cocktail on arrival, cock-a-leekie soup, haggis with neeps and tatties, cranachan (whipped cream, honey, whisky and raspberries) and a vertical tasting of Jura Whisky.
Friday 23 – Monday 26 January, this much-loved Brackenbury Village pub will be offering a bespoke menu with wine and whisky pairings to celebrate both Burns Night and Australia Day. The dishes are inspired by classic Scottish and Antipodean flavours, featuring Raw Loch Duart salmon, horseradish, dill crème fraÃ®che, passion fruit, cucumber, and cress alongside the ubiquitous haggis. The drinks list features Australian Shiraz and Riesling, as well as Highland and Islay single malt whisky.
Or why not substitute whisky for champagne at a Burns Night Supper? The Brompton Food Market will host a special Scottish evening on Friday 23 January with chef Luke Mackay at the helm. On the menu: Arbroath smokie, tatties with a crisp quail’s egg, venison loin and cranachan – all preceded by bubbly and canapés (haggis fritters, scampi with smoked eel and apple and oatcakes) in the garden. Of course the obligatory dram (of 16-year-old Lagavulin) will be included as well as champagne.
An independent steaks and grills spot in the heart of trendy Shoreditch, serving up carefully selected meat (from the likes of the Ginger Pig) all cooked on the Josper Grill. Stop by Friday 23-Sunday 25 January for a special Burns Night menu and two special cocktails. For your bevvy there’s The Jones Dram (Chivas regal 12 yr blended scotch, Drambuie and a twist of lemon peel) and the Wee, Sleekit, Cow’rin, Tim’rous Beastie (Chivas regal 12 yr blended scotch, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and angostura bitters. Garnish with orange peel and glace cherrry).
If you’d rather skip the haggis…
If you’d rather not tuck into offal in honour of Robert Burns then head to Bonnie Gull – “the sort of place you’d expect to find in a coastal town!”. It may be a little “cramped’ but this Fitzrovia bistro serves “a genuine range” of “outstandingly fresh” fish and seafood, and on 25 January the menu will get a Scottish twist. Start with cock-a-leekie and champagne sabayon and move onto langoustine and scallop Cullen skink. And don’t miss out on their deep fried Mars bars for dessert.
Deep in the heart of Theatreland, this “peerless” icon (est 1896) is yet again London’s most talked-about destination in this year’s survey. The Caprice Group’s seafood specialist is running a dedicated Scottish menu until 28 February, with hand-dived scallops from the Isle of Mull on the menu. On Burns Night itself, the restaurant will have a piper greeting diners and guests will be sent on their way with a wee bottle of Chivas whiskey for the road.
For Scottish charm all year round…
With its “plush tartan decor”, “meaty Scottish fare” and impressive list of whiskies and wines, this “convivial” Belgravia bastion “oozes a sense of ‘male preserve’”; “smokers delight to find somewhere that positively encourages smoking… on the excellent roof terrace”.
A “slightly bizarre” traditional find amongst the shiny towers of Canary Wharf, this “spacious” twin of the famous Belgravia Caledonian wins praise for its “surprisingly good” fare; regular jazz adds to the possibilities for business entertaining. There’s also a Boisdale of Bishopsgate near Liverpool Street station, but the survey hasn’t had much feedback on that branch of late.