It’s probably obvious by now that I love to cook a lot of my own food, but I also LOVE restaurants. I mean, a lot of people love restaurants, but I really love them…like, I’ve finished-my-meal-but-I-want-to-stay-here-all-day kind of love them. When I’m at a restaurant I like, a cozy one with delicious food that’s just the right mix of comforting and interesting, I pretty much want to move in.
The Haven in Jamaica Plain (Boston, MA) is like that. All the seats are classroom chairs, but somehow it just works (even though, as a former teacher, I’m dying to get in there after hours and put a tennis ball on the bottom of each leg so they won’t be as loud when you scoot them). It’s a Scottish gastropub, and everything I’ve ordered has been delicious, perfectly striking that balance between familiar and unfamiliar that I’m always looking for when I eat out. The Haven serves lunch and dinner all week and brunch on the weekends, and they also have a full bar. I’ve been several times for brunch and twice for dinner, and think I’ll try lunch next. (Check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win one of two gift cards so you can try The Haven yourself!)
The first thing that’s fun about The Haven, other than the classroom chairs and these adorable sheep we got to sit with, is the menu. It has a glossary! This is good, because I’m betting you don’t know what rumbledethumps and clapshot are (spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you about one of them later in this post). The next fun thing is that they bring you oatcakes while you’re waiting for your food. They come on a little plate with a slab of really good butter sprinkled with sea salt and a few pickled vegetables. I’m not sure what’s in them other than oats, but their crumbly, chewy texture is pretty addictive, and with that butter and salt they are pretty much the best thing ever. One more fun thing: the window seats have great light for food photos, and you can also watch the sun set.
I ordered the Herb-Crusted Giannone chicken, which came with rumbledethumps, sweet onion jus, and a pile of perfectly-dressed greens (the menu said watercress, but I think it was arugula–no complaints here, because I love arugula and what I got was delicious). The chicken was great, especially dipped in the sweet onion jus, which was more savory than sweet but still fabulous. My favorite part was the rumbledethumps–the menu defines them as “similar to colcannon; potato, cabbage, and onion”, but they somehow made their version delectably crispy on the outside, and it tasted like it might have had some amazing kind of cheese in it as well. (Just a note–I decided to set aside most of my usual dietary restrictions for this night out at The Haven. I tried to get an entree that was on the healthier side, but I threw caution to the wind for dessert–more on that, and an idea for a paleo-friendly brunch order, later).
Ben ordered the fish supper, which is basically fish and chips with a side of minted mushy peas, but he asked for the mashed rutabaga instead of the peas. I am not a huge fan of fish and chips, but I did try a bite–the fish was pretty good, and the fries were delicious. The rutabaga was yummy, too, but not as good as the rumbledethumps. The batter on the fish is not a light or flaky one; it’s a hard-core, thick, crispy-on-the-outside-bready-on-the-inside kind of thing. Ben only ate half his plate and still barely had room for dessert. (I, of course, wished he hadn’t had any room left for dessert at all, because I wanted what you see below all to myself.)
In addition to the chicken, I can also highly recommend the Haven Burger, which I ordered the first time I went for dinner. It comes with bacon-onion marmalade, which is ridiculous in the best way possible, and a pickle sauce that I love despite my hatred of pickles. I am not sure how they do that.
On to dessert! We ordered the 99, which is vanilla ice cream in a crispy cookie bowl with an entire Cadbury flake bar on top and a really good toffee caramel sauce on the side. I want the recipe for that sauce! (Also, why are flake bars not readily available in the United States? Someone needs to tell Cadbury we want more than just creme eggs.) One more thing about dessert: they have a deep-fried Mars bar. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to order it, but I’d love just one bite–or for one of you to try it and let me know how it is!
A short note on brunch at The Haven: it’s awesome. I like to get the bubble and squeak, which is a bunch of sauteed seasonal vegetables with poached eggs on top. You can add crispy pork belly to it, which is fabulous, and it’s a great option if you’re looking for something paleo-friendly. If you’re not avoiding gluten, the quiche is also delicious–it has really good Cotswold cheese and vegetables in it. The vegetables used vary, but I believe it’s always vegetarian. Ben likes to order The Full Scotch. I’m not brave enough to try black pudding, but I always enjoy sneaking some bites of his bacon and grilled pineapple. I didn’t get great photos last time I went for brunch, but you can see the bubble & squeak on Instagram.
Check out the Rafflecopter widget below if you’d like to enter to win on of two $25 gift cards to The Haven!
Disclosure: The Haven is providing the gift cards for this giveaway, but I paid for my own food and was not compensated for writing this review. As always, all opinions are my own.