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Robbie Burns Day in Toronto 2014

Posted by Ben Johnson / January 20, 2014

Robbie Burns Day TorontoRobbie Burns Day in Toronto is an occasion to recall the man who was recently chosen by his countrymen as The Greatest Scot of all time. He earned that honour by penning some of Scotland's most famous and memorable poems, writing that song we don't know the words too but drunkenly sing at midnight on new year's eve, and by being a cultural icon and a beacon to liberalism.

Basically, he was a huge celebrity during a time when being celebrity meant one required actual talent, skills, intelligence, and abilities. In short, Robbie Burns was the man. Accordingly, to pay tribute to him, on his birthday on January 25th, we now gather to drink Scotch, eat traditional Scottish fare, and share his poetry. So if that's the kind of celebrity worship you want to be a part of, here are ten places in Toronto where you can get in on the fun next week.

Burns' Night at Allen's is typically a fairly spirited evening and this year's event seems slated to be true to form. On Saturday January 25th they'll be serving a three-course meal kicked off by a traditional address to the haggis and accompanied by The Scarborough Pipes and Drums, songs by Diane Raeside, and highland dance performances. $65. For reservations call: 416-463-3086

The Caledonian
Once again Toronto's Scottish restaurant and Whisky Bar will host a full week of events to commemorate The Ploughman's Poet. Festivities kick off on January 21st with a tasting of Macallan's 1824 Collection, then continue with an Aberlour and Glenlivet tasting on January 23, an Ardbeg tasting on the 24th (sensing a theme?), and, finally, culminating with a three course Burns dinners on Saturday. Naturally, the evening will include a Scotch tasting. Tickets for the dinner are $50 and proceeds will be donated to Wounded Warriors Canada. Call 647-547-9827 for reservations.

Mill Street Brew Pub
Mill Street's traditional Robbie Burns Day Brewmaster's Dinner on Thursday January 23rd will feature six courses and a different beer paired with each course--and this year will even include a sampling of their in-house distilled Hopfenshnaps. In addition to a solid lineup of beverages, there's tons food, including haggis (naturally), a scotch egg, whiskey glazed beef tenderloin, and the giggle-inducing cock-a-leekie soup. Given the excellent beer content, this is typically where you'll find me enjoying Burns Day. $59.99. Call 416-681-0338 for reservations.

St. Andrew's Society
If you're looking for a traditional Burns Day event, then look no further than the St. Andrew's Society, an organization dedicated to celebrating Scottish heritage. On Friday January 24, at the University Club of Toronto the festivities will not only include the the traditional piping in of the haggis and toast to said haggis, but also a reading of Immortal Memory, the Toast to the Lasses, and also the ladies' chance to rebut, aka the Toast to the Laddies. The cost is a steep $125, but that includes a $25 charitable donation and obviously the cost covers a traditional meal and a wee dram, too. Download a registration form here (You know it's a good party when it requires a form!).

Leslieville's Scottish bar hosts not only two Burns day events, but also a Burns Eve celebration. Each will include will include a four-course dinner with three wee drams and a pint, in addition to traditional fare like a scotch egg and haggis. Heads up: The McGugan clan's motto is "Victory or death" so if the event isn't a success things might get messy. $49. Call 4160910-9859 for reservations.

Cameron's Robbie Burn's Cask Night
Camerons Brewery in Oakville is holding their second annual Robbie Burns Cask night on Thursday January 30. The evening will feature food by local restaurant Paradiso, live music, and most importantly, cask beers. Cameron's website suggests there's an extra drink ticket available to all who show up in a kilt, so there's that. $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $15 for students. Call 905-849-8282 for reservations.

The Pipers Pub and Grill
On January 25th, Pipers on St. Clair West will be hosting their second annual Robbie Burns Supper featuring haggis and yes-this-is-the-name-of-a-food neeps and tatties. Bagpipes will be piped, toasts will be toasted, and highland diancers will dance before the floor is cleared for folk, rock, and pop music to help dance off some the whiskey before you brave the St. Clair Disaster to get home. $25. Call 647-748-6800 for reservations.

The Monk's Table
Toronto Star beer columnist Josh Rubin will once again be hosting the Burn's Supper at the Monk's Table and, as you'd hope, he'll be including Scottish beer along with the traditional Scottish foods. There will also be readings of the Ode to a Haggis and (methinks) a single malt to properly toast. $60. Call 416-920-9074 for reservations.

Auld Spot
The Auld Spot Pub will be celebrating Robbie Burns' day on the 25th with Scottish Highland dancers, a-promises-to-be-hilarious address to the Haggis and supper which includes a scotch egg, haggis with neeps & tatties and where-do-these-food-names-come-from Kedgeree. As a beery bonus, the evening will afford you a chance to try new beer from Sweetgrass Brewing Co., contract brewing in Guelph but started by the Auld Spot owners. Their first beer is a Belgian-style Golden Ale currently only available in limited bars. Price TBD. Call 416-406-4688 for reservations and pricing details.

Urban Acorn Catering's Vegan Supper Club Presents: I Heart Robbie "Burns"
If, for some crazy reason, the idea of eating a sheep's minced heart, liver, and lungs crammed into a stomach doesn't float your boat, you might opt for this vegan Burns day dinner offered by Urban Acorn, a Toronto-based start-up catering company working out of Bento Miso. Food will include potato pancake with curried apple and ginger chutney, a traditional hogmanay black bun, and even vegan haggis made with apricots and pearl barley. Since it's a private event, you can bring your own wine. $45. Click here for tickets.

Got a Robbie Burns Day event worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. You can follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson.



Ben / January 20, 2014 at 10:06 am
Indeed it does! And that place appears to have a great draught list including Sierra Nevada Celebration and Helltown Purgatory IIPA on Cask. Sounds like a killer pub!

I'll fix the link. Thanks.
Any Haggis Poutine? / January 20, 2014 at 01:57 pm
Looking for some.
Rosco / January 20, 2014 at 02:08 pm

Yeah, such as shame it hasn't been crassly commercialised as an occasion to force cheap green beer down the public's throat.
Dave / January 20, 2014 at 03:44 pm
The Granite Brewery up at Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton has a two night bash every year as well.
Chester / January 20, 2014 at 04:02 pm
As a fellow person with Scot lineage.....In the words of Ron Burgundy "Scotchy, scotch scotch, down into my belly"

Lets get piisssed!
Astin / January 20, 2014 at 04:10 pm
The Caledonian's is the best I've been to, but they PACK 'em in on Robbie Burns Day. But pipers and great dancers and amazing food and Donna as the greatest host in the city make the cramped space worth it.

I found that Allen's was lacking in that key ingredient - haggis. A very small portion (a tiny ramekin's worth) of mostly oat haggis. Not the warm-reekin', rich great chieftan o' the pudding-race. The rest of the night is fun though.

An alternative is to host your own. Buy a haggis from Healthy Butcher or Allen's Scottish Butchers, get a bottle of good scotch, some decent Scottish beers, whip up some neeps and tatties, make a quick cock-a-leekie soup and read some Burns aloud. I suppose one could pipe and dance if they chose as well, but I find it's best to leave those to the professionals.
John / January 20, 2014 at 04:39 pm
Could we please start calling it Robert Burns Day?
He's not called Willie Shakespeare.
Rabbie Ford / January 20, 2014 at 04:43 pm
I've always called him Billy Shakes.
Hogtown Pub / January 21, 2014 at 02:19 pm
Don't forget The Hogtown Pub is doing their Burns Night complete with an 'Ode To The Haggis', amazing dinner specials and live music with Phil Hood! All goes down Saturday, January 25.

633 College St W.

miserable sod / January 25, 2014 at 02:36 pm
Faux belief in the need to lay claim on heavily diluted ancestral heritage - Like when Canadians get married in kilts or pretend to be moved by religious marches! A flavor od the month disguise to cover the hard to swallow fact that you are born and raised in a barren cultural wasteland! Soon you can pretend your Irish and then amidst Brazil 14, Cain a 3 lions shirts and bore others with the fact your grandad came from Slough!
Danielle / January 23, 2015 at 11:34 am
The Sony Centre is presenting THE SCOTTISH TATTOO: THE MUSIC OF SCOTLAND on Jan. 29.
All the musicians, bagpipe players, singers, and dancers are directly from Scotland and even features music from Robert Burns himself!
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