Food Review: Burns Night at Boisdale
Union Haggis at Boisdale of Canary Wharf
IN A NUTSHELL
Mixed messages in the puddin' and the presentation but a fine do awaits all the same.
Initially I thought Boisdale's decision to serve up a "Union Haggis" stuffed with Irish barley, Welsh pluck, English liver and Scottish heart was a clear rejection of Alex Salmond's breakaway fetish.
But looking back through the blur at the pre-Burns Night dinner, a preview for the main event on January 25, I'm not so sure.
Certainly the puddin' embodied the four territories' tasty collaboration.
A blend of ingredients stronger together to delight those feasting.
Piped in by Willie in full regalia, so far so friendly. But then, with wild eyes and spittle forming at the corners of his mouth, the bombastic Scot began to recite Burns' Address To The Haggis before drawing his dirk in a frenzy to ritually murder the beast.
There it lay, the Union. Slaughtered before our eyes.
And then, quite happily tanked up on Macallan whisky, we consumed all traces of it until there was nothing left but the memory.
Mixed messages. Did we kill and eat the union or celebrate its greatness? Would the Boisdale chain benefit from a split or suffer?
Perhaps marking the border with a thicker line would lend its brand an extra exoticism down south; make that tartan glow brighter in the dimmed light.
But then, what if the pound is lost up north?
Will the price of the tonnes of Macsween haggis (yes, really, tonnes) served each year at Boisdale's restaurants rocket? Maybe it will become the new caviar, a great delicacy to be enjoyed in teaspoon-size morsels.
Owner Ranald Macdonald says he's a supporter of the union but I wonder if actions speak louder than words.
In the more immediate future though, before the spectre of independence threatens to ruin or bolster the business model, let's get to the meat.
While a bewildering range of options exist at Boisdale for Burns Week (January 18-25 in Belgravia), Wharfers should focus on the 25th for the main event.
From 7pm the sounds of the Rat Pack will wash over diners enjoying the traditional five-course menu (tickets £48-£68).
Veggies need not apply with starters limited to smoked salmon (another reference to Alex?) or Scottish venison carpaccio followed by Macsween haggis with tatties and neeps and then a ribeye steak or cullen skink pie.
To finish, a Scottish tart with clotted cream or cranachan of honeycomb then coffee. Diners will also enjoy a noggin of Macallan single malt whisky with the haggis.
The Union Haggis is available by special arrangement.
And, if the food is half as good as it was on the preview evening the menu's well worth the money.
But be warned. The heady blend of ingredients, alcohol and good cheer might make you forget yourself.
Fortunately the incongruous stylings of the crooners should remind you you're at Canary Wharf, not Bannockburn.
Check the website for offerings at the chain's other venues.
Boisdale of Canary Wharf, Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4QT, 020 7715 5818, boisdale.co.uk.