Friday night in Edinburgh. What are the options? You can go to the pub. You can go out for dinner. I suppose you could even go to the cinema. OR! You can get dolled up, mosey on down to the Ghillie Dhu, and get your ceilidh on. This is exactly what my pal Sam and I did last Friday. We popped along to the Rabbie Burns Supper Club to see what it’s all about.
Let’s talk about the space, first. As soon as you hop out the taxi you’re confronted by how impressive the building is. The Ghillie Dhu is inside what used to be the St Thomas Episcopal Church, so it is absolutely gorgeous and totally atmospheric. Winding stone staircases, high vaulted ceilings lit by chandeliers, and huge arched windows: it’s the aesthetic that gothic themed bars like Frankenstein are aiming for but can’t quite achieve.The beauty of the dining and ceilidh room (which is upstairs) really made an impact on me as soon as we walked in.
The evening starts at 6:30pm, but you can book a table later if you like. We decided to pop along at 7:30pm, and some groups arrived closer to 8pm. Our friendly waitress sat us down at a large round table and offered us a welcome drink: whisky or prosecco. We both went for the fizz because, well, Friday!
The meal consists of a seasonal three course menu. We had a choice of three starters, four mains, and three desserts. It all seemed like very hearty Scottish cuisine, although surprisingly there was not a hint of haggis to be seen. As much as I love haggis, this was quite refreshing. We ordered all three dishes up front to give the kitchen a head start, and kicked back sipping our bubbles and putting the world to rights.
I decided to start with the sauteed forest mushrooms cooked in a light garlic and parsley sauce with toasted ciabatta. The waitress seemed pleased with my decision, saying this is her very favourite thing on the menu. The starter had a lot to live up to, but it did so admirably. I’m a sucker for garlicky mushrooms and these bad boys hit the spot. The ciabatta soaked up the sauce without becoming soggy, while the mushrooms themselves were cooked and seasoned to perfection.
For the main course I had the rolled fillet of plaice stuffed with prawn mousse and served with a crayfish sauce. This was a very flavoursome dish, and I could really taste the crayfish. The plaice was tender, while the prawn mousse made for a lovely light accompaniment. There was also some mashed potato on the plate, which was creamy and rich and simply divine. I love a bit of mash, me.
Finally, we finished our meal with the rich dark chocolate mousse with white chocolate shavings and shortbread. I absolutely love mousse so I was diving in with gusto when Sam said “the bowl almost looks like it’s made out of chocolate too!”. Well guys, let me tell you: it was. We spent a few seconds trying to work out an elegant, ladylike way to eat a dark chocolate cup but in the end went for bashing it with our spoons then picking up the fragments with our fingers. Good grief!
After dinner the tables were cleared away, and we had a little while to relax and enjoy a blether and a drink while the ceilidh was set up. The band kicked off at 10pm with a Gay Gordons. The most important person at a ceilidh is the caller: have a bad caller, you’ll have a bad time. Luckily this guy really knew what he was doing and was perfect at demonstrating and explaining the steps. Soon the dance-floor was crowded (Sam gallantly volunteered to be my man) and we were all twirling around bumping into each other and giggling. It’s a bit of a work-out, let me tell you!
The next dance was my favourite: The Dashing White Sergeant. Unfortunately you need three people for this one. We were just a gruesome twosome and although we spent some time wandering around saying “I need a man!” we couldn’t find one. Where’s Tinder when you need it, eh? Still, it was fun to watch everyone paddy ba-ing away! By the time the reel came around we ended up with a group of, ahem, rather merry students. They were having a great time, and so were we. We ended up dancing the night away until the disco started: at which point we realised it was probably time to head home.
All in all, the Ghillie Dhu ceilidh night is great fun. We knew we’d definitely be coming back, and that we’d be dragging even more pals along next time. The prices are reasonable, too. The Rabbie Burns Supper Club is just £30 a head for three courses and a hoolie, while the ceilidh on it’s on is just a fiver to attend. A fiver!
Seriously dudes, grab your pals and head along next Friday. You’ll love it! Just remember to wear flat shoes.
I was invited along to visit the Ghillie Dhu. All opinions are my own, as always.