A friend of mine was dying to try out Highlands, as she’d been craving some true Scottish fare and had heard this might be as close as it gets in the city. Located in the West Village, Highlands describes itself as a contemporary Scottish gastropub. And my friend’s Scottish. Super Scottish, as in her family knows where to order their family’s tartan type Scottish. Me? I’m sadly only able to say I “think” I’m the majority Scottish… but I was 100% interested in trying out somewhere new. The stars even lined up so as for Highlands to be the featured special that day on Blackboart Eats (if you haven’t checked out the site, it’s a wonderful way to get free discounts to restaurants in NYC).
To start off, we decided to split a couple of appetizers. I’d read wonderful things about the lamb sausage roll, which was prepared with mint, upland cress, and harissa aioli. When it came out, the dish was essentially two giant grown-up versions of pigs-in-a-blanket, substituting in lamb for the pork. The bread casing was thicker and flakier than for pigs-in-a-blanket and the lamb was fresh, slightly minty, and crumbly. It was quite good, although slightly on the heavy side for an appetizer. If you’re wanting something heartier, it’s a good way to go. We also ordered the house cured Loch Duart salmon, which was served with pumpernickel crostini. The salmon was so light and fresh, it was a refreshing change from the sausage roll. Both of the ones we selected were delicious, but I’d recommend the salmon over the sausage.
For our main dishes, we chose to go with a couple of items and to share them. She was deadset on trying the haggis, which I’ll admit frightened me a bit. I’ll also admit I didn’t quite know what it really was. She’d grown up eating it though with her grandmother preparing it, and so I tentatively tried a bit. The menu explained their preparation as including neeps and tatties (yellow turnips and potatoes) with a whisky butter sauce. It used to be that the dish was actually prepared cooked in the casing of sheeps’ intestines, whereas it’s now prepared with standard casing. I actually found the meat very flavorful and it was just a unique combination, the inside including onions, oatmeal, among other items. My selection was the Pork Faggot, which was a pork sausage dish prepared with applesauce, onion marmalade, and sage. I’m a big fan of applesauce in contrast to stronger meats and it was very effective here. I’d definitely order this again, but I would not pair it with the sausage roll as an appetizer. Way too much red meat!
Highlands also has a fabulous cocktail menu that’s not to be missed. I’m a sucker for ginger, and had to give their apricot and ginger smash a go. It had muddled apricot, apricot brandy, ginger, lemon, and Makers Mark. My oh my. Very gingery and very good. It was a little chilly, so we opted for some warm drinks to accompany dessert. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a drink include maple syrup, but as I’ve noted before, there should be so much more maple in the world – period. The drink was called the Highland Maple, made of rye, applejack, maple syrup, and bitters. Next cold spell before spring really arrives, I recommend getting one of these. Perfect for a crisp night! We also noted this is quite the scene (single girls take note – there was quite an attractive and refined crowd milling around the bar area, so even if Scottish dinner isn’t your thing…), so would recommend this for an after work drinks spot.
Or dessert. The Scottish butter cake was quite a nice way to round out the meal. It wasn’t overly sweet at all, something you don’t see often and which frankly we appreciated as our drinks were on the sweeter side. My friend attested to the authenticity of the dish, which was a simple butter cake paired with raspberry and mint compote with a marscapone cream. Portion sizes were good as was the value. Definitely a nice spot for a date or for catching up with friends. Minus points for no bagpipes 😉
Highlands – 150 West 10th Street (at Waverly) – 212.229.2670
Reservations for parties of 6 or more only