Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Haven JP; Jamaica Plain

Some of my favorite memories come from the time that I spent living in London, England during my senior year of college.  The extreme sense of pride that I had in myself for leaving everything, and everyone, that I knew and traveling to a far away place, fulfilling a life long dream to live in London, and then enjoying every moment that I was there, makes me often think back on those four months.  The things that I saw, the experiences that I had, and the wonderful people I met are memories I cherish, and whenever I have the ability to relish them in whatever capacity here in the States- I take it.  Whether it be seeking out an ale I used to enjoy, dousing my chips in malt vinegar, or looking through my scrap book of that time, I am immediately brought back to the lovely land that captured my heart several years ago.  

It comes as no surprise then, that when Jason from The Haven JP, a Scottish tavern that opened just about 5 weeks ago in Jamaica Plain, emailed me asking me to come check them out- well- I knew I'd be there as fast as humanly possible. 

Last night was the elected night, so John and I headed over to The Haven, located on Perkins Street.  As soon as we entered I loved the vibe- very laid back, incredibly friendly, pub-like without being that dank, dark vibe that be sometimes be a little off putting.  We were seated by the incredibly friendly waitress who's name I cannot at all recall (I'll blame that on the delicious Scottish beer I enjoyed) and we began to look over the menu.  The first thing that I noticed about the menu was how entirely UK it was, and this was definitely seconded by Jason who also greeted us.  Of course there are dishes that are typically Scottish, like their Haggis and Neeps, but also great dishes like Tikka Masala and Fish and Chips.  As we perused the menu we were given pistachio crisps or cakes-small and almost cookie like, these nutty clusters were delicious, especially when dipped into just a little of the salted butter they were served with. 

We decided to start off, at the recommendation of Jason, with their Haggis and Neeps.  Here I'll be honest- I have never had Haggis and Neeps.  The dish may have been a bit too adventurous for me when I was living in the UK, as the Haggis typically features chopped heart, liver and lungs from a sheep, mixed with seasonings and minced onions and then stuffed into the intestine of the sheep and cooked that way.  Last night though, as my palate has expanded 10 fold since college, I thought it was a wonderful way to kick things off at The Haven.  Their version was actually Lamb based, and was served with accompanying kohlrabi (a type of turnip), and a Drambuie butter sauce.  Drambuie is a Scottish liquor of honey and herbs.  The presentation was absolutely gorgeous- the plump "sausage" sitting in the middle of a beautiful bowl of neeps, accented with lemon zest and chopped parsley.  Again- I have never had Haggis before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but the inside was surprisingly un scary- the internal lamb resembled ground beef, and was very lightly seasoned.  I almost missed the lack of salt (darn American palate) but then realized that when combined with the lovely lemon zest or the butter sauce, or even the pickled vegetables and fruits that were served all the flavors came together in perfect harmony.  Lovely.

Feeling nostalgic, I chose the Chicken Tikka Masala for my main course, and John selected the Hamburger for his.  

My Tikka Masala was outrageously delicious- the skin of the chicken was perfectly crisped and the tender meat was flavorful and incredibly juicy.  The accompanying bed of white rice with assorted root and leaf vegetables dressed in a tomato curry sauce were all fantastic.  The rice had a rich buttery flavor to it, and the curry was light, yet flavorful and all together the dish was harmonious.

John's burger was just as tasty.  8 ounces of ground chuck, grilled perfectly, topped with Cotswold cheese and a bacon and onion marmalade-it had tremendous flavor.  And if this is any high praise- John loved it -onions and all!  The chips served with it were thick cut but each crispy and delicious, and when paired with the house made ketchup or malt vinegar-truly delicious.

Another visit from Jason convinced us to share another course, another Scottish delicacy- a Scotch Egg.  This little treasure is basically a hard boiled egg, wrapped in house made sausage, and then deep fried.  It is served with a dollop of spicy mustard and a side of salad greens.  All I can say about this one is "whoa".  The sausage, despite being deep fried, was still somehow lighter tasting than other sausages, and was not overly season either so the pureness of the meat shown through.  What was really incredible though was the wonderful textural contrasts between the crispy meat with the creamy egg white and the somewhat mealy yolk.  Each element had its own personality, and just really played off of each other nicely.  

I had to include John's great photography skills with this one!
In the short time that The Haven has been open- they are already doing amazing things.  The run like a well oiled machine, and their food is delicious and different from anything you could find else where in Boston.  Each item has a unique twist, and the care that they are taking to present it is obvious.  But perhaps even greater than their food, is the attitude that takes over the place -which each crowd or couple that enters, the vibe is reinforced as a place to relax, to enjoy your food, to savor a brew, and to reminisce or catch up.  

The Haven is definitely a place that we will return to.   

The Haven on Urbanspoon


billy connoly said...

Could not agree more! Great article.

Anonymous said...

Kohlrabi is not a type of turnip but rather it's in the cabbage family. It is known by some as "German turnip" but that is in regards to its looks.

Boston Food Diary said...

Wow- thanks for sharing!! Great info!

Jon L said...

Wow Fi, this place looks great. With all that dark wood, definitely going to be a place for the fall season (is it weird that I am looking forward to fall???) Let me know next time you go there... I want to tag along!

Boston Food Diary said...

Thanks Jon! Definitely we'll head back in fall...I feel like I might be a regular there- let me know when you want to go!


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