If you’re already bored with, and not enjoying, a dry January and if you think Veganuary is a brassica too far, fret not Robbie Burns is coming to the rescue.
Scotland’s favourite son and national poet will be celebrating his birthday again on the 25th of this month. Or rather, we will be celebrating his birthday (he’s been dead for over 200 years) but his memory lingers on…not just in the words of Auld Lang Syne but in the annual blow-out known as Burns Night.
You can go the full Monty – decking out in tartan, bringing on the bagpipes making speeches and toasting everything from the haggis to the guests – or you could celebrate in elegant opulence at Wiltons Restaurant in Jermyn Street. If the Queen went to restaurants this is where you would find her…low-key, discreet, chic and wickedly delicious.
This year again, chef Daniel Kent has devised not just a gourmet feast but possibly the prettiest Burns night menu, one that should indeed have a poem written about it.
Each course, and there are five of them, looks as if it belongs in a jewellery box. First on your plate is one perfectly formed oyster, like a great baroque pearl drizzled with emeralds – in fact it is a native of Loch Ryan and its decoration is samphire and Scottish sea vegetable gin. This sets the scene for the other courses – the smoked salmon is served with a devilled egg which resembles a pale opal while the venison glows like slices of rubies. Best of all they are as delicious to eat as to look at. In between there is a gentle cock-a-leekie broth and of course the HAGGIS.
Even though it’s not the main course, this is the heart (although made in the stomach) of the celebration. At serious Scottish events the HAGGIS is piped in and even has a poem read to it, at Wiltons it is decorously carried in accompanied by a puree of neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes its traditional bedfellows, and of course there is a toast to its arrival too). Followed by medallions of Scottish venison served with kale and more turnips, this is a Burns Night feast that pays homage to its heritage but with a lightness of touch and taste that is pure 21st century.
The final cheese course is another paean to Scottish ingredients with two ewe’s milk cheeses – Corra Linn and Isle of Mull with a creamy Lanarkshire blue. And while whisky begins and ends the meal – Whisky Sour for cocktails and the most delicious Balvenie as a digestif. This latter has been maturing for 14 years in a rum cask which adds a touch of spice to its smoothness. Throughout the meal the accompanying wines deserve their own individual poems – a white burgundy Macon La Roche 2015 and a St Emilion Grand cru 2012 are more than perfect with the courses.
Such a pity Robbie Burns only allows us one night to celebrate his life.
Burn’s Night Dinner served from 5.30-9.00p.m on 25 January 2019
Six course plus coffee and shortbread £85.00
Optional wine flight £68.00