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A taste of haggis: Robert Burns Dinner to honor the legacy of Scottish poet on his birthday

By Staff | Jan 24, 2020

Haggis, which is a savory pudding baked in a sheep's stomach, will be served at the Robert Burns Dinner in the Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub on Sunday. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — This Sunday evening, literature lovers from around the Eastern Panhandle will congregate in Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub, to celebrate the 261st birthday of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns.

Starting at 6 p.m., the three-hour Robert Burns Dinner will feature many traditional aspects of the three-course Burns supper, according to Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub manager Angela Durkin.

“This is the fourth year we’re doing this,” Durkin said of the event, mentioning it not only honors the bard, but also the Scottish heritage of Carolyn Litwack, the restaurant owner.

“It’s popular internationally to have this Burns supper, so we have a traditional meal, as well as a reading, featuring some of his poems and his songs, and then we also have a bagpiper who plays,” Durkin said. “We also have a traditional haggis presentation. The bagpiper, Duncan S. Moore, plays as the haggis is brought into the meal, and then there is a ceremonial cutting of the haggis.”

According to Durkin, attendees will be able to enjoy tasting the haggis, as well as traditional Burns supper dishes, such as tatties and neeps. Some other food on the menu, which is served in Scotland, include smoked salmon, shrimp and venison stew. Vegetarian versions of the haggis and vegetarian entrees will also be available. The meal will be finished with an English traditional shortbread cream trifle.

Tatties, neeps and haggis will be some of the food served at the Robert Burns Dinner in the Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub on Sunday. The Scottish foods are a traditional element of the Burns supper. Tabitha Johnston

Robert Burn’s actual birthday is on Saturday, but Durkin said the restaurant thought more community members would be able to attend if it was held on Sunday night. Many people make an effort to prepare for the annual event, by dressing in evening ware, including kilts and Prince Charlie jackets.

“One thing we’re really excited about, is we’re having a Scotch tasting of four Scotches for an additional charge, in addition to the meal,” Durkin said. “A lot of Scottish fans like their Scotch. It’s been a very popular part of the evening’s events.”

Devonshire Arms Cafe and Pub employee Dakota Crawford will act as the Master of Ceremonies and add one final touch to the evening’s events.

“The Master of Ceremonies will try to have a witty speech regarding Robert Burns’ work,” Durkin said, mentioning Crawford will incorporate readings of Burns’ work into the evening.

To make reservations, call 304-876-9277. The three-course dinner will cost $40 per-person, with an additional $30 charge for the Scotch tasting.