A little bit of Scotland right in one of my favorite Boston neighborhoods, Jamaica Plain restaurant, The Haven, is cozy, comfortable, and offers a fantastic mix of Scottish beers with a few local beers thrown in. The Haven wasn’t our first choice on Saturday night; after Daisy’s blog post on Tres Gatos, I was after the tapas. However, Tres Gatos had seven parties of two in front of us and a full house, so we decided to save it for another day.
The Haven was almost as crowded, but after just a few minutes browsing the beer menu, we saw seats opening up at the bar and opted to eat there. I love eating at the bar, and we were starving!
Saturday’s raw, gray weather was the perfect contrast to the warmth of The Haven; it made me think of our trips to Ireland and just how good a warm pub feels on a rainy day. We each started off with a beer, me with a Portland, ME favorite, Geary’s Wee Heavy Scottish Ale and the husband with a Belhaven stout. Both beers were excellent, mine dark and malty and the Belhaven even darker with definite flavors of coffee and dark chocolate.
We paired our beers with the complimentary oat cakes and sweet butter, topped with salt, that were given to us. Again, I was transported across the sea, the chewy oatcakes and fresh butter so different than the bread at most restaurants.
I am still craving comfort food, and big time. That might have something to do with the weather being crappy every five days out of seven, or so it seems, but I am ready to not feel this way. However, The Haven specializes in simple comfort food, so I was in the right place for what I wanted. We started by sharing a golden beet and endive salad, our valiant effort toward healthy eating for the night. The salad was perfect, its sweet beets and bitter endive working very well together, and addictive pistachios providing a nutty crunch. What is it about pistachios? They are too good!
In addition to the salad, we also shared the cheese and broccoli rabe on toast. Cheese on toast is one of those simple pub foods that I love to eat in Ireland, and here the broccoli rabe added some healthy veggie goodness and delicious flavor. A gooey open face grilled cheese is about how I would describe this. I want one now!
As we are big time sharers when it comes to food, especially at places new to us, we also shared the un-photographed fish supper, a fish and chips dish with the best mushy peas I have ever had. The mushy peas were smooth and garlicky, more like a green pea hummus than the canned mushy peas I am used to.
With dinner I had another beer, a Notch Session 70 Shilling, made for The Haven. I think I would have liked this beer if I had it before the Wee Heavy, but it seemed too light for me. I’d try it again on a warmer day; perhaps I was just in the mood for darker, heavier flavors that evening.
We were too full for dessert, but I will return for dessert alone if I have to. Some think the idea is vile, but I love a fried Mars bar, and I just have to have one soon.
While I definitely still want to go to Tres Gatos, The Haven was the perfect place to spend a Saturday evening. It felt authentically Scottish without being gimmicky or over the top at all, offered some very friendly service, and some of the most creative pub-style food I have seen in the Boston area.