Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A QNY Restaurant Review: Highlands

By Brooklyn Bill

I had dinner last night at newish Scottish gastropub Highlands in the Village with buddy Lou. The entrées weren't anything to blog home about, but I loved everything else about the meal, including the wonderfully charming but rather dark space. (Hence the lack of any food photos in this post.*)

I started off with a Sweet Ginger Brown cocktail, which—in Highlands' incarnation—consists of "Pyrat XO Rum, muddled lime, ginger, and brown sugar." Well, raise me kilt and check out me stone puts, was it ever good. I have to try whipping up some of these drinks at home. Preferably when these fellows are over for a visit.

Lou had been to Highlands twice in the past couple of weeks. I asked him whether he'd tried the haggis. He hadn't ordered Highlands' haggis, but he'd eaten that more-than-a-wee-bit-unusual dish in Scotland once. He knew it had some pretty gross stuff in it, so he ate it without asking for the specifics. I'd already looked up haggis on Wikipedia, so I wasn't going to be able to fool myself into thinking it was oats mixed in with some other innocuous stuff.

I went for the baked cod, and it was pretty boring in flavor. Though I guess if I'd wanted something really interesting, I would have gone with the dish that's cooked in a sheep's stomach. I really enjoyed the bubble and squeak on the side. Lou let me try some of his lamb shank, roasted potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. I think it's safe to say I enjoy Brussels sprouts more than most people, and these were terrific, as were the taters. Lou and I both thought the lamb was just OK, though I should note that it's generally not a favorite of mine.

I didn't catch the name of my dessert; all I heard from the waitress was "chocolate BLAH BLAH BLAH mint cream," and that was enough for me. The chocolate part was like a pot de crème; the pool of mint cream on top was out of this world. Chocolate-and-mint desserts have a pretty low bar to cross to please me since that combination is my favorite when it comes to desserts, but this one was truly special.

I took some interior shots with my camera and iPhone, but they're not worth sharing. If my iPhone hadn't been at the table in my coat pocket, I'd have taken a photo of the wallpaper in the men's room. It was creepy and fun with, among other things, a motif of guys shooting up drugs or peeing in a park.

There's no way I've got a segue from that, so let me just add that it was fun meeting Mary, one of Highlands' owners, whom Lou has chatted with on his previous visits. She's very nice, and it was a delight to hear a Scottish brogue coming from this cute Asian woman's mouth.

Quit tossing yer caber and give Highlands a go, especially if you find offal less off-putting than I do.

*The photo of the Scottish terrier statue in Highlands' entryway is in honor of Sadie, who's the favorite to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Madison Square Garden tonight.

UPDATE on Feb. 17: Sadie kicked ass.

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