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Highland Kitchen

k
kate used to be 50 Jan 27, 2008 12:22 PM

Finally made it to this wonderful find! Thanks again CH for pointing to this great restaurant.
We spent a whole day laboring and just too tired to think of cooking. Went to Highland Kitchen, arriving around 7PM and the place was packed. It was a 30-45 min wait for a table so we went and stood by the great junk box and had a drink.

When two bar stools opened up we decided to grab those and eat at the bar. Started off with smoked blue fish cakes. I don't like blue fish, but these were amazing. Wanted to lick the sauce off the plate. The patrons next to us had the deviled eggs. They looked too good to pass up, so we ordered those. Yummy.

Entrees were also great. I had the mahi-mahi with mango salsa and H had the goat stew. Both were flavorful and well prepared.

The bartending and the kitchen are excellent. This place is a true find, though it appears that it will not be a secret long.

  1. g
    GOTIL Mar 5, 2009 04:51 PM

    The cat's out of the bag....this is a great place. From the drinks, apps, wine, entrees, dessert--tried a taste of all recently. Will be back....again, again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GOTIL
      g
      GOTIL Mar 5, 2009 05:04 PM

      bwt, as we likey the details on chow, had deviled eggs, seafood gumbo, curried goat stew, volver wine, bourbon pecan pie with chilled moscato....yummy and thanks to the wonderful staff.

    2. LindaWhit Feb 22, 2009 05:04 AM

      Went last night for the first time. It's about 4-5 blocks away from where a friend lives (and she's been several times), so we headed over there early to avoid a wait that she was sure would happen later. She was right - we got there about 6:15, and got seats at the bar with no problem. But within 20 minutes, the wait was upwards of 45 minutes.

      Love the look of the place; pub-like, but with very good lighting so you don't feel like you're sitting in a cave. Music was cool - bluesy background stuff; it wasn't turned up louder until towards the end of our visit. And based on what I've read, it can get very loud in there, so I was glad it was quieter to start.

      After looking over the menu, I went with a Serenity Chardonnay from Namasté Vineyards, while my friend chose a Guinness. I know HK is known for their specialty drinks, but I'm not, so I took the easy way out with wine. :-)

      For apps, I chose the handmade gnocchi with beef short rib ragu with grated parmesan - served in a deep soup bowl, these gnocchi were heavenly! Light and pillowy, a perfect complement to the beef. A lot of liquid from the ragu in the bowl for sopping up with the bread given to us a bit earlier. My friend went with a special app - BBQ clams with bacon - 6 smallish clams set in a bed of salt, with a bit of BBQ sauce on top of the (broiled?) clams topped with a cube of salty/sweet bacon - very, very good!

      For mains, my friend chose the steak frites - a lovely, large piece of hangar steak, done to perfectly medium rare. A gorgeous crust on the outside of the steak, beautiful medium-red inside, very simply seasoned, and presented with the frites and a small salad. My one complaint about this would be that the fries were a bit on the soggy side.

      My main was a special - Berber-spiced mahi-mahi with roasted fingerling potatoes, sauteed chayote (my first time trying these), and a mango/pineapple/cucumber/red pepper salsa on top of the fish. The Berber spices gave the fish a very nice flavor; not spicy at all, just a very mellow flavor with a slight bit of heat from chile and with a back hint of sweetness that I think is from cinnamon and/or nutmeg in the mix (and most likely, a sweet paprika). The fish was done perfectly, lightly breaking apart at the touch of a fork. The chayote was very simply sliced and sauteed, it seems, picking up a bit of the mix from the fish that sat on the slices. The salsa was a great complement to the fish - the sweetness of the tiny dice of the mango and pineapple, with the crunch of the cucumber all in a lightly vinegary dressing made for a very tasty forkful every time. I left nothing on the plate.

      We chose to forego dessert - nothing really excited me. The biggest issue I had was that we were done - starting with our first drink and finishing with our entree plates being removed - in 55 minutes. I would have preferred not getting our mains within 3 minutes of finishing my appetizers, although I can understand their desire to turn seats over. But even so, that's *really* rushing things.

      Tab before tip was $90.00.

      This is a place I would love to have in my neighborhood but that's so never going to happen! LOL So I'll just have to drive 15 minutes to pick up my friend and go to HK. Definitely a new favorite spot.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit
        g
        Gabatta Feb 22, 2009 06:15 AM

        I have found that the food can come out rather quickly at HK as well. As with any place where this is an issue, I just take matters into my own hands by holding off on ordering entrees until after we have enjoyed the appetizer. They have no problem with this at HK, particularly if it means an additional cocktail or two.

        1. re: Gabatta
          LindaWhit Feb 22, 2009 07:00 AM

          Yeah, that's definitely something I'll do next time.

      2. t
        tfun73 Feb 24, 2008 04:54 AM

        Very good. Great vibe, tasty food. Worth a visit!

        1. firelight1016 Feb 18, 2008 07:21 AM

          Am pleased to report a lovely experience at Highland Kitchen as well! The BF and I stopped in on Saturday night around 7:15 after catching a movie at the Sommerville Theatre (which is great, btw, and serves beer and wine!). The place was busy, but not uncomfortably packed and we ended up waiting about 25-30min for a table.

          Even though the seating for two-tops wasn't ideal for privacy- we both had a really great meal. He ordered the rigatoni, which was just okay, and I ordered the meatloaf- which was awesome for a cold night. The fried calamari with the pickled peppers was great, too. I liked the smokey dipping sauce that came with. Tried two different desserts- he, the "simple chocolate cake", which rocked, and me the apple crumble, which I wasn't in love with as the apples didn't seem cooked?

          Had a nice bottle of rioja with dinner and overall a great experience. Will definitely be going back next time I'm in Beantown!

          2 Replies
          1. re: firelight1016
            TomH Feb 20, 2008 09:08 AM

            More good press for HK:

            http://drinkboston.com/2008/02/20/hig...

            1. re: firelight1016
              meaganl Feb 24, 2008 05:45 AM

              I had the apple crumble a week or so ago and loved it! I loved the fact that the apples weren't mushy. They were cooked just enough to keep a bit of bite when you dug in. To each his own...

            2. l
              luvehr Feb 17, 2008 12:12 PM

              do they have a website? i can't seem to find one.... i was wanting to take a look at their menu.

              2 Replies
              1. re: luvehr
                s
                smtucker Feb 17, 2008 12:37 PM

                The web site is very bare: http://highlandkitchen.com/

                1. re: luvehr
                  p
                  pollystyrene Feb 23, 2009 05:53 PM

                  They have a myspace page:

                  http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?...

                2. Waidesworld Feb 17, 2008 08:54 AM

                  A party of three of us were there last night. We all ended up with the steak as the lamb shanks, which looked delicious, had naturally been sold out. The food was excellent, as was the service. The girl at the door, hostess, could have smiled every once in a while, but the bar staff (looking after us while we waited for a table - 30 minutes) and our waitress more than made up for that fact. The place was jammed for a Saturday night. We live a few streets away and are very excited to have something this good in our area.
                  I have read where people claim they wouldn't drive 15 minutes, but in the area, 15 minutes can get you a slew of good places to eat. We are truly spoiled in this area and HK is fast becoming a formidable force.

                  1. RoseWethersfield Feb 3, 2008 02:48 PM

                    I'm one of the neighborhood folks who walks to HK and already feels like there is a bit of a HK family -- and we (as a bunch) are a bit overprotective of the place (so don't try to be rational with us!)--and our little neighborhood which [happily] is neither in Union Square nor Davis Square. I have to say that I've lived in a lot of neighborhoods in my 15 years in Boston -- Rozi, JP, Dot, Allston, SE, and Newton Corner -- and nothing has come close to feeling like a true neighborhood place (the Blarney on Dot Ave is pretty close and it has its defenders...). I've worked through most of the menu and enjoyed everything except for the po' boy + bread pudding (the boy had too much bread and the bread was too soggy). Service is excellent -- not perfect but excellent -- and acknowledges the mistakes and growing pains (hence their choice to close on Sat brunch and put service above profits...). To have experienced, competent bartenders who love their jobs is amazing -- they both (meaning Michael and James) serve the crowd who has been coming to that address for years with white wine and bud lights AND re-invent classic cocktails for the more adventurous drinkers.

                    Just Friday we had the chili fries (good) and the haddock special (fabulous). (I know...not the best food combo). We had a mix of cocktails and wine. I ended the night with the yummiest of ciders (which you can enjoy the aroma of if you sit on the right side of the bar...)

                    This place hasn't even, as I understand it, had its "official" opening (and may never have it)...because it just sort of happened. I would lump it into the same crowd as the West Side and the Franklin -- although this place is more sensitive to the neighborhood old timers and families -- maybe not a crowd I usually care or think about too much but I respect their decisions to really welcome the entire neighborhood. Really, a place like this is the best of Somerville. Every urban center should have its own, unique version of the Kitchen.

                    1. b
                      baddog Feb 2, 2008 02:25 PM

                      I think we have have been so ready for a decent place to eat in this neighborhood that most of the HK buzz is about that. Don't get me wrong- I'll be back. The bluefish cakes are excellent, as are the grilled scallops appetizer (though $10.00 for 2 scallops is a bit much). The short ribs were fine but not "fall-off-the-bone", the garlic mashed were great. My wife enjoyed the Mahi-Mahi. The calamari, deviled eggs and some of the sandwiches looked great. Our server was very friendly but could not keep up with the crowd. Drink service seems to be an afterthought once you sit down. When I go back it will be on a week night.

                      1. firelight1016 Feb 1, 2008 06:11 AM

                        Thinking about trying this next time I'm in Boston in a couple of weeks. The bf literally lives 5 minutes from there, so it's on! Question- do they take reservations? There isn't any info on the website.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: firelight1016
                          yumyum Feb 1, 2008 07:03 AM

                          They take reservations for parties of 6 or more.

                          1. re: firelight1016
                            p
                            phoebek Feb 1, 2008 01:45 PM

                            I called a couple of weeks ago and was told that they took reservations for every night but Friday and Saturday. They didn't say anything about parties of 6 or more (though it's possible that they've changed their policy). But we--party of 4-- went on a Saturday night and didn't have too long a wait (just long enough to have some of their excellent drinks!)

                          2. n
                            nm424 Jan 28, 2008 11:26 AM

                            I've been to HK for both dinner (a couple weeks back) and drinks (just this past weekend). Definitely a nice addition to the neighborhood but I'm not going to lie - based on everything I've heard about it I was a little underwhelmed (but had this been a place I just randomly stumbled upon, I probably would have felt as though I discovered something kind of cool - funny how that works). Anyway, for dinner I had the pork which was actually pretty good, and my date had the short ribs (not great). We sat at the bar and drink service was pretty weak (but I should probably point out that there's no easier way to make me happier - or more annoyed - than with good/bad drink service). Bartender was really sweet when she was paying attention to us, though, so that was a plus.

                            This past weekend, popped in for some after dinner drinks. Place was pretty packed but we still managed to snag bar seats at the front window. Specialty drink list looked solid so, despite the fact that I'm not too big on specialty drinks, I went for this hot cider drink (I'm glad I did - it was excellent) and my bf ordered what I think was a hot buttered rum drink (I couldn't stop laughing at how funny he looked drinking it, whipped cream and all, but he said it was good).

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: nm424
                              b
                              bobot Jan 28, 2008 12:40 PM

                              I agree that the food can range from great to mediocre, but HK is such a great addition to that 'hood that I'll give it extra credit. Would I be excited about it if I had to drive 15 minutes to get there? Probably not. But as an addition to my neighborhood, I'm in love with the place.

                              1. re: bobot
                                Bob Dobalina Jan 28, 2008 12:44 PM

                                That's right....All you non-Somervillians - It's NOT worth the drive. Don't bother coming ALL the way over here. :)

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                  MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2008 05:52 AM

                                  I realize you're being facetious, but I think you do want the place to be packed with non-locals on a regular basis, even if that makes it a pain to get into on weekends.

                                  It's a very cool little place (I just got by for a brief visit), but I wonder whether it could survive on local-only trade in that location, which clearly was problematic for some of its less-interesting predecessors. I'd rather see it become another Franklin Cafe, i.e., too popular for its own good, where locals have to get good at identifying short-wait windows during the week, than, say, a Dedo, a worthy but out-of-the-way place which local-only trade couldn't keep from folding.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    Bob Dobalina Feb 1, 2008 07:02 AM

                                    I hear ya, though I think the demographic is shifting in Somerville so that it will support such a place. Archive this question for the time capsule.

                            2. yumyum Jan 27, 2008 12:32 PM

                              Kate -- that's so cool you went to HK. I have to concur on the jukebox ... it's all the head chef's stuff from home and it's great.

                              The deviled eggs are mixed with his signature remoulade, which shows up on the po'boy and other dishes, and is just delicious.

                              Agree it's not a secret -- I still contend there is a super business opportunity to snatch up the overflow. If I had the capital and more than a glancing view of what it takes to run a business, I'd totally set up a bar in the same hood. Anyone want to go in with me?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: yumyum
                                k
                                kate used to be 50 Jan 28, 2008 10:36 AM

                                Good Idea, but I think I'll stick on the patron side.

                                1. re: yumyum
                                  Bob Dobalina Jan 28, 2008 10:41 AM

                                  Do you have to turn in your chowhound card if you switch to management side?

                                  1. re: yumyum
                                    gini Jan 28, 2008 10:46 AM

                                    That sounds like a fabulous idea. I call dibs.

                                    1. re: gini
                                      itaunas Jan 28, 2008 11:12 AM

                                      If you wait a few months there is another nearby location which has flopped multiple times after changing its formula (Highland Kitchen was successful as Devlin's, but then didn't do so well until now and the other was the original "Bar Brasil" [which is now Samba Bar]"). Its right on Somerville Ave with a sign that has been promising a new restaurant/bar for 6 months now.

                                      BTW, the Portuguese club on Marshall street has converted over to a Brazilian menu. (They had at times served Brazilian snacks to attract that community, although due to their liquor license fight, they went back to a Portuguese menu... at times good, but with some issues like crinkle fries in plates.) I haven't had a chance to figure out if they are under new mgmt, still doing the social club thing, etc.

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