“Scottish cuisine”: an oxymoron?

Think of the world’s great cuisines: French, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Spanish (though YMMV). You’ll note that most of these are from warm or even hot climates. Very few people list Norwegian, Russian, or Scottish among the world’s great cuisines—even though each may have a renowned dish or two. Why is this?

The answer is simple: I don’t know.

All of this is prelude to my comments about The Haven, a Scottish restaurant that recently moved to the first floor of the building where Barbara has worked for the last hundred years or so.

Here’s the thing: in the before times, whenever Barbara wanted to work late or there was some other reason to meet her for dinner after work, we used to eat at Bella Luna, the Italian restaurant in the aforementioned space in her building. Unfortunately Bella Luna did not survive the pandemic, so the place remained empty until The Haven recently moved in from elsewhere in JP. In collaboration with Bella Luna—or perhaps just to make use of the excellent pizza ovens—one set of items remains on the menu from the old days: pizza. Otherwise the menu is Scottish.

So we decided to try it out. We skipped the day’s special: haggis ravioli.

Yes, that’s right. Haggis ravioli. Honestly.

We started with a Scotch egg. Haven’s version was a slightly gussied-up variation on the canonical recipe, which is defined on Wikipedia as “a boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and baked or deep-fried.” At Haven the egg was not simply boiled but was actually deviled, so the very mustardy yolk added flavor to what would otherwise be bland. And it came with excellent well-dressed greens. It was actually quite good.

Did I say “bland”? That had been my general expectation. Cold-climate cuisine, you know. But let’s move on:

For the main event, Barbara had fish and chips: a generous portion of properly cooked haddock, with “hand-cut chips” (a.k.a. steak fries) and minted mushy peas—too mushy and definitely too minty for our taste, but what can you do, it’s British cuisine. I had pan-roasted salmon, accurately described as “on a bed of fregola & cannellini w/ broccolini frito garnish.” For those not in the know, fregola is basically Israeli couscous—or Israeli couscous is basically fregola, take your pick, but definitely the huge Israeli type, not the tiny Moroccan couscous. Either way, it was flavorful and not overcooked. Likewise the salmon and the broccolini. All in all, a winner.

We’ll be back.

Categories: Dorchester/Boston, Food & Restaurants