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Jan 27, 2008 12:22 PM

Highland Kitchen

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.

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: yumyum

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

        1. re: yumyum

          That sounds like a fabulous idea. I call dibs.

          1. re: gini

            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.

        2. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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. 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

              They take reservations for parties of 6 or more.

              1. re: firelight1016

                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. 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. 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.