Burns Night is celebrated on 25th January, the birthday of beloved Scottish poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, with a very traditional supper.
We’ve tracked down some Burns Night suppers for around £50.00 or less, which we think is pretty good bang for your buck considering that most evenings include a three- or four-course meal, a welcome whisky-based drink, bagpipes and poetry readings.
The Traditions of Burns Night
Not every Burns Night supper will be run exactly the same way, but this is the classic format:
The host calls the guests to be seated and the Selkirk Grace is said.
Food is served, beginning with a starter of either Scotch Broth (a thick, warming soup made with lamb, barley, dried pulses and vegetables) or Cullen Skink (a creamy soup of undyed smoked haddock – ideally, finnan haddie – onions and potatoes).
The main course will be Scotland’s beloved national dish, haggis: a savoury meat pudding made from sheep’s pluck (i.e. the liver, heart and lungs) mixed with suet, oatmeal and spices, stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. (By the way, if this sounds like something you wouldn’t want to eat, try googling what parts of an animal are used to make hotdogs. Or maybe don’t.)
The haggis is ‘piped in’ proudly to bagpipe music, the guests raise a dram of whisky in a toast, then Address to a Haggis is recited as it is ceremonially sliced and served with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (potatoes), usually with a whisky sauce. Dessert could be classic Scottish Cranachan, a layered dessert of raspberries, toasted oats and whipped cream topped with honey and whisky, or Clootie Dumpling, a steamed suet pudding with dried fruits, usually served with custard and – you guessed it – whisky.
Next comes the recitals; at the very least Immortal Memory, followed by several others and finishing with everyone around the table standing (whisky consumption permitting) and singing Auld Lang Syne, whilst crossing arms and shaking hands with their neighbours.
Happy Burns Night, Cheapos!
Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London: Central
The Oyster Shed, Monument
A dram of whisky on arrival, recitals of Burns’ poetry, bagpipes piping in the haggis and a four-course modern Scottish supper: the bard would approve. Vegan/vegetarian haggis is an option.
Underbelly Boulevard & Cafe Kitty, Soho
Cool new events space Underbelly Boulevard has a mix-and-match option, including a ceilidh with a live band and a caller to guide you step by step; there are two sessions, one at 7.15pm and a later session at 9.45pm.
They are also running a Burns Night whisky tasting, plus the on-site restaurant, Cafe Kitty, is getting in on the act with a set menu: haggis croquettes to start, mince, neeps and tatties for the main course and dark treacle cake with whisky cream for puds.
Price: Ceilidh: from £12.00pp. Set Menu: £25.00 for two courses, £29.00 for three courses.
The Last Judgment, Holborn
If you’re not after a full three-course meal, how about a selection of Burns Night-themed nibbles? Pair your haggis scotch egg and whisky sauce, Cock-a-Leekie terrine, Cullen Skink tart and neeps & tatties croquettes with a four-shot whisky flight for £20.00 or a whisky-based cocktail for £12.00. Oh, and don’t worry – there will still be bagpipes and poetry.
Price: Nibbles selection £12.90pp
Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London: North
The Lion and the Unicorn, Kentish Town
Enjoy a bargain evening of a three-course meal of warm Isle of Mull cheddar tart, Scottish trout with crab croquette, seaweed & dill butter sauce, finishing with with Clootie dumpling and whisky custard, along with drinks and poetry readings.
The Farrier, North Yards, Camden
This is Burns Night with a twist. It’s fair to say that the chippy is a favoured dining destination in Scotland – where else to get your deep-fried pizza and Mars bars? – and here it features in a quirky six-course mash-up of fine dining and the celebrated Scottish bard. Expect inventive dishes on a theme, such as ‘Pie & Mash’ – haggis pie, neeps & mash with brown sauce – and a dessert of Tunnock’s tea cake, IRN-BRU and candy battered scraps. Wash it all down with a Scottish-inspired cocktail; anyone for an IRN-BRU marg?
Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London: East
Mama Shelter, Shoreditch
This is a rustic Burns Night supper of cock-a-leekie soup, haggis with neeps and tatties, and a poached date & honey Cranachan dessert, with whisky flights and a selection of classic whisky cocktails. There will be bagpipes, a reading of excerpts from Robert Burns’ poetry selection and a host in a kilt.
Barge East, Hackney Wick
A sustainability-led Burns supper with live music, poetry readings and four courses including a dram of whisky to toast the haggis. Start with Scottish langoustine and neep-a-leekie soup, followed by open Scotch pie, braised mutton, celeriac and horseradish; classic haggis, neeps and tatties and to finish Cranachan ice cream, Fraser’s Maw’s Scottish tablet and – rather wonderfully – a deep-fried Mars bar.
Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London: South
The Cutty Sark, Greenwich
Celebrate all things Scottish at the Burns Night edition of ‘The Captain’s Club’. Start with a welcome whisky cocktail followed by a traditional three-course Scottish supper; tuck into Cullen Skink, Haggis, neeps & tatties, and Cranachan trifle. There will, of course, be bagpipes; don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Where to Celebrate Burns Night in London: West
Ceilidh Club, St Mary’s Marylebone
It’ll be no surprise that the emphasis is on the dancing here, but don’t worry; they have a caller who will let you know the steps so even complete newbies can get involved in the fun. There will be a Burns-themed buffet with haggis, neeps and tatties (including a vegan/vegetarian version) where the haggis is piped in, and a recital of Address to a Haggis. After more dancing, the evening will finish with Auld Lang Syne.
Price: £55.00pp, concessions £45.00pp
While we do our best to ensure it is correct, information is subject to change. This article was originally published on 19th January 2024.