Robbie Burns Day

Robbie Burns Day Toronto 2013

How to celebrate Robbie Burns Day in Toronto

Among Robbie Burns' achievements are the fact that he penned some of Scotland's most famous and memorable poems, became a cultural icon and a beacon to liberalism, and was even recently chosen by his people as The Greatest Scot of all time.

More importantly though, his many achievements have given us an excuse, on his birthday, to gather to drink scotch excessively and feast on haggis. So in that spirit, here are 8 places around the city you might check out if you're looking for a reason to dust off your kilt and listen to some poetry while you eat sheep heart, lungs, and liver stuffed into a stomach. Mmm.

Burns' Night at Allen's seems slated to be a rather spirited tribute to The Ploughman's Poet on Friday January 25th. For $65 you'll get 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. For reservations call: 416-463-3086

The Irish go Scottish
All the various Irish pubs owned by FAB concepts (Foggy Dew, Murphy's Law, Brazen Head, Pogue Mahone, Ned Devine's in Milton, The Pour House) will be forgoing their "traditional" Irish ways in order to pay tribute to Robbie Burns on Friday January 25th. They'll all be hosting a traditional Burns' supper and scotch nosing (though interestingly, roughly half of the locations are offering it for $45 while the other half are charging $39.99) and all will have a feature menu with Scottish pub fare and even some Canadian/Scottish hybrids like sausage poutine. Slåinte.

Auld Spot Pub
The Auld Spot Pub will be celebrating Robbie Burns' day on Friday with some passed haggis, a traditional address, highland dancers, live bag pipers and, in truly Scottish style, drink specials.

The Caledonian
Toronto's only Scottish restaurant and Whisky Bar will be hosting a full week of events to commemorate The Bard. Tonight things kick off with a Highland Park whisky tasting with proceeds going to The National Trust for Scotland and events culminate in not one but three Burns dinners on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Highlights include a Scottish folk band on Thursday, Highland Dancers on Friday, and Bagpipers and Burns Poems on Saturday. Vaguely disgusting mental image: organizers are expecting to go through several hundred pounds of haggis throughout the week.
Costs vary depending on the night. Call here for reservations: 647-547-9827

Mill Street Brew Pub
Given that Mill Street's traditional Robbie Burns supper on Thursday January 24th features five courses and a different beer paired with each course, you can bet this is where I'll be to toast Scotland's favourite son. In addition to a great line-up of Mill Street beers, there's a silly amount of good food on the menu; including ancho chile rubbed beef tenderloin served alongside the traditional haggis and deep-fried mars bars for desert. Bonus: The main course will be paired with Mill Street Tartan Ale, a strong scotch ale brewed at their Ottawa location just for this event. Cost: $59.99. Call for reservations: 416-681-0338

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 for $35 they'll be offering a three course meal with beer pairings and a single malt to properly toast a reading of Ode to a Haggis. Call for reservations: 416-920-9074

Leslieville's Scottish bar, McGugan's, will feature a four course Robbie Burns' Dinner and scotch tasting. $50 gets you a meal that includes traditional fare like a scotch egg and haggis as well as three drams of whisky and a pint of Tennents. Given that the McGugan clan's motto is "Victory or death" one can only hope the event is a successful one.

St. Andrew's Society of Toronto
If you want to go ultra-traditional, spend Friday evening at the University Club of Toronto with the St. Andrew's Society, an organization dedicated to celebrating Scottish heritage. The cost is a steep $125, but that includes a $25 charitable donation and you'll not only be piped in to enjoy the toast to the haggis, but also witness an invited guest speaking about Burns, hear the traditional Toast To The Lasses, and also the ladies' chance to rebut, aka the Toast to the Laddies. Obviously the cost covers a traditional meal and a wee dram, too. Download a registration form here.

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

Photograph by Leon Melville

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