Plans for a special Burns Night dinner hosted by Scottish Event Campus here in London started right back in the spring of 2017. The brief for the 20th anniversary of this event: to respect the traditions of Burns Night whilst giving the catering a modern, elegant update. The venue: Guildhall’s majestic Great Hall – steeped in atmosphere with its soaring, high-arched ceiling and Gothic stained glass windows. If you are going to hold a Burns Night dinner for 250 guests in London, there is no better setting.
To set the tone for an evening that fused tradition with creativity, the canape presentation trays included aged parchments featuring the work of Robert Burns, leather bound volumes, portraits of the poet and, of course, swathes of Scottish tartan. Pre-dinner canapes, enjoyed beneath the Great Hall in Guildhall’s ancient, vaulted Crypts, included an Inverawe smoked salmon’99’ cone, beetroot meringue pie, truffled wild mushrooms on toast and a leek, chilli butternut and roasted cobnut tart. A whisky tasting bar, featuring a selection of single malt whiskies from Glengoyne, was very popular both before and after dinner, telling the story of one of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries.
The address to the haggis (which was paraded through the Great Hall on an ornate silver tray accompanied by a piper) heralded the start of the Burns Night feast. Featuring beautiful Scottish ingredients, the menu for dinner included scallops with haggis, juniper spiced fillet of Scottish beef,’neeps, tatties and roots’ for vegetarians and a warm gingerbread cake with spiced caramel for pudding. The combination of scallop and haggis in the starter showed just how versatile this iconic Burns Night dish can be. Garnishes of pickled thistle, a little compressed apple and an apple cider puree added a touch of acidity that works so well both with shellfish and haggis and brought everything together beautifully.
No Burns Night would be complete without a toast to the lassies and traditional Ceilidh, all of which gave this notable event the true flavour of Scotland and a fitting celebration for a 20th anniversary.
Summing up the success of the evening Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at SEC remarked, “We are proud that our SEC Burns Supper has become such an anticipated night. We love to host our clients at one of Scotland’s most famous traditions and it’s truly enjoyed by all who attend. I hope that it remains a firm fixture for many years to come.”
Photographs by Holly Clark ©