Root + Burns Night Supper Club

Words: Anthony Power   Photography: Steve Ryan

Root + Burns Night Supper Club



Each issue we hold a supper club for a select bunch of friends, stockists, chefs and readers. For previous events we had the esteemed pleasure of barbequing over live fire with the good people of Meatopia. We are still dreaming of the rib eye steaks we feasted on that evening. For this issue we were honoured to collaborate with our stockist Town Hall Hotel for a very special Burns Night dinner where the Corner Room’s new head chef, Luke Robinson, championed some of Scotland’s finest produce as we raised the glass in homage to the legendary Scottish wordsmith.

The Town Hall Hotel was built in 1910 during a prosperous time for the local council, and no expense was spared in its construction. The council employed the finest architects, craftsmen and artists to build its new expensive deco style home, dripping with green and white marble, Australian walnut and rich mahogany. Exactly how you like to see your locally elected representatives spend your taxes. That was then, this is now, and over a century later the Town Hall has been painstakingly restored to its former glory and home to a stunning hotel, bar and restaurants, winning accolades and applause from within the industry and the general public alike.

We gathered in the council chamber to meet and greet our fellow diners over a house take on the Rob Roy cocktail (by Peg & Patriot); Johnny Walker, Talisker, Vermouth and Gran Marnier; tasty, smoky, alcoholic-y and just the thingto limber up the group. Centre of attention, however, was the whisky trolley, generously stocked with some of Scotland’s finest drams by the good people at Diageo. When it comes to drinking whisky, the debate about which to add; water or ice, runs deep with many opinions on the topic. Add ice and you rapidly drop the temperature of the liquid which can inhibit some of the complex characteristics of the whisky. Adding water, on the other hand, can unlock subtler flavours not previously experienced. Our decision was made easy with help from Uisge Source (pronounced Oosh-guh).

Experts say its best to use water from the same region that produced a whisky to ensure the true character is retained. Uisge Source waters come from private sources close to distilleries in each of the key whisky regions that ensure you get a perfect pairing for your favourite single malt. Sounds good to me.

With a warm glow rising up from our bellies, we moved to the dining room next door to take our seats amongst the tartan and the thistles, excited for the feast to come. Palettes were cleansed with a delightful British sparking wine from Ridgeview vineyards. There has been much hype about the British having a crack at bubbles, and it’s justified; crisp, zesty and beautifully balanced, served with an amuse bouche of king scallop ceviche, hazelnuts and orange. The whisky trolley will have to wait.

Burns Night means one thing; haggis. And whisky. Lots of whisky. Which are actually two things. Or 15 things if you count the number of drams we had. None the less, it was time for the ceremonial obligations to be fulfilled and chef Luke proudly paraded the haggis to the room. Personally, I love the opportunity to give my dinner a raucous round of applause before I eat it. Luke shared with the group the recipe for his haggis; the stomach of a lamb stuffed with the pluck; the heart, liver and lungs, amongst other bits and pieces of deliciousness. Such an impressive job did he that the one vegan at the table ate the haggis. We are pleased to hear recent news that she is dealing with the guilt well.

Never ones to shy away from starting an argument, it appears that haggis is, in fact, an English dish. The word Hagase was first used in England circa 1430 and the first printed recipe for the delicacy dates 1640, but nonetheless haggis has become recognised as Scotland’s national dish thanks to Robert Burns’ poem ‘Address To A Haggis’ (c.1786)

First course arrived soon after; roasted king scallop, parsnip, red wine, haggis and roots; a classic combination elevated through execution with the scallop glazed in the wine and the haggis packed with the guts and the glory. Relaxed soon swung to rowdy as the wine and free flowing whisky began to work its magic.

Luke was back out to explain the main course that was soon to grace the table. Tender pink venison haunch, cooked and rested to perfection, served with a silky, malted celeriac puree, salsify and chard that was spot on the mark with each element working together brilliantly on the plate.

With the savoury courses accounted for, the party quickly gave way to raucous with our spirits nicely drenched in the spirit of Scotland. A boozy trifle for dessert closed out the skills from Luke and his kitchen team and without any ado the whisky trolley once again became the centre of attention where we got down to business on the drams.

With all our Root + Bone events, they couldn’t happen without the help of our good friends. Yet again Vicki Baker from Bang Bang Events made everything look fantastic, with vintage barware provided by Kitchen Provisions, Irish linen napkins from 31 Chapel Lane and bespoke ceramics by Pottery West. A huge thanks also has to go to Ridgeview, Enotria and Diageo and Uisge Source Water for imbibing the party and of course, Luke Robinson and all the team at Town Hall Hotel for an incredible evening. now, back to the drams.