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Neighborhood Eats – The Haven

October 30, 2011

The Haven bills itself as Boston’s only Scottish pub. I can’t say for certain that it is but I’m happy to dine there anyways. When my roommate and I arrived, a gentleman with well-groomed mutton chops and (hopefully) Scottish accent was at the podium to lead us to a table. I was delighted to discover that he was sporting a dark green kilt. The decor fit right into the gastropub aesthetic – dark dining room minimally lit with antler chandeliers, exposed vents, contemporary and possibly local art work on the walls. Water in a thick glass bottle. Appetizer of oatcakes with sweet butter and a little espresso cup of pickled carrot, onion, and cucumber. These tasted wonderful as a little finger sandwich.

I ordered a pint of Belhaven Ale. Roommate ordered the Stout. Both were wonderful with a thick head of foam, reminiscent of Guinness’s creaminess. The ale was sweet and well-balanced with just a hint of sour at the very very end. The stout was aggressively toasty.  The ale fortified me for the main attraction: haggis with “neeps” and “tatties” (that’s mashed rutabaga and potatoes for us non-Scottish). The haggis arrived in two small oblong balls – the stomach of two small sheep or one stomach twisted into two sausages?  The spicy, perhaps gamey, smell of the haggis wafts up to the nose once the plate is on the table. The haggis is sliced open to reveal its stuffing of sheep organs (according to Wikipedia – heart, liver, and lung) and garnished with a dab of butter and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. The smell and texture of the meat combined with Scottish oatmeal suggested to me the more spongy and mealy textures of liver and lung than the chewiness of heart. The taste was not immediately attractive or offensive – I liberally applied salt and pepper. Maybe it was the beer or maybe it was the learning curve, but I found myself gaining appreciation for this dark hash and its iron flavor. However, I don’t think it’s something that I would care to eat again. The two mashes were alternately juicy sweet and creamy rich – appropriate and healthy accompaniments.

My roommate got the house burger – a medium-sized patty covered in melted gourmet cheese with a side of fries. He tells me his dinner was very good. I spied on the table next to me as they got Scotch eggs, the chicken pot pie, and haggis. I always want a dish of Scotch eggs instead of the one that arrives as an appetizer with the customary (in American gastropubs?) mini-salad of arugula. It was hard to tell whether the Scotch egg was good although the mustard was generous. I was a little miffed that the arugula went uneaten. The chicken pot pie had an amber brown crust and was in a long shallow baking dish. It looked pretty good. Dinner was pricey for an AmeriCorps budget – $25 for an ale and haggis entree. But I liked The Haven a lot and hope to return for weekend brunch and late night snacking and drinks.

 

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