Highlands
 

Blueberry Bramble (photo: Adrian Barry)

 

Polenta Burrata Salad (photo: Adrian Barry)

Get introduced to seasonal Scottish cuisine in the West Village

By Erik Mathes

What comes to mind when you think of Scottish cuisine? Perhaps haggis, a dish of boiled sheep’s offal not exactly known for its mass appeal. More likely, you draw a blank, since the food of the Scots hasn’t quite gained a foothold in popularity here in the States. Thankfully, the folks behind Highlands are out to change that.

The West Village gastropub has been introducing American palates to the flavors of the northern region it’s named after for more than half a decade, and chef Timothy Miller’s style continues to evolve. His new summer menu includes a mix of Highlands’ hearty, meaty favorites, such as pork and leek sausage rolls with madras curry mayo, beef Wellington (not ordering it is always a test of willpower that usually leads to regret), and Scotch egg, alongside lighter fare, like grilled melon salad with ricotta salata, pickled ramps, mint, and gin and ginger vinaigrette, blue crab and prawn toast with chile, garlic, and mascarpone, and Earl Grey–brined chicken breast with charred figs, roasted summer squash, and celeriac crisps.

Highlands’ ambiance combines the rustic charm of exposed brick walls with mounted animal heads, an L-shaped mahogany bar, and old-fashioned wallpaper featuring pheasants, with the impeccable service you’d expect from a top NYC institution. Of course, the spirit the Scots made famous also plays into the restaurant’s decor and menu, as ornate bottles of Scotch whisky act as accents throughout the space, while dishes include the likes of whisky bread with fruit mince and Scotch butter and, for dessert, whisky bread pudding with caramel and vanilla cream.

You can even find dishes that would be considered envelope-pushers in establishments known for taking risks, like the polenta-fried local burrata with green tomato gazpacho, heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onion, Thai basil, and Stornoway black pudding gremolata, and, yes, a version of haggis that could convert even the pickiest carnivores into offal evangelists (it’s gotta be the whisky butter).
While you’ll never have a shortage of meat dishes at a Scottish spot, vegetarians will go ravenous over Highlands’ side dishes of citrus-roasted snap peas soaked in lavender butter and topped with crispy shallots, roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic truffle mayo and dill, and asparagus with sherry vinaigrette and crispy onions. There’s also on entree-sized kale and quinoa salad with curried celeriac, crispy spiced chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, manchego, ale vinaigrette, and fried egg.

For cocktails, Highlands offers a menu of classics—go for the blueberry bramble if you’ve got a sweet-tooth, or sip on a gin and tonic garnished with lime and a sliver of cucumber for something clean—plus a separate menu of creative signature drinks, including the perfectly rounded Wobbly Piper (Pelotón de la Muerte mezcal, cardamom syrup, grapefruit liqueur, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer) and the internationally-inspired Krankie (rosemary-infused Bourbon, tamarind puree, organic agave, lemon, and a pinch of applewood-smoked salt).

And for purists who wants to tap into the spirit of the Scots, there’s no better way than with a flight of Scotch whisky, preferably with something smooth and smoky like Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay single malt.

Photo: Adeline Ramos

hours

Mon–Thu 5 PM–1 AM; Friday: 5 PM–3 AM; Sat 11:30 AM–3 AM; Sun 11:30 AM–midnight
Kitchen Hours:
Dinner: Sun–Thu 5 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–10:45 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–3:30 PM

price range

$21 (Haggis, neeps, and tatties) to $32 (beef Wellington)
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