Overview: In June 2010, Scotsman Jason Waddleton opened The Haven, Boston’s first Scottish restaurant and pub. Formerly Zon’s, the newest culinary incarnation of this spot is located on Perkins Street in Jamaica Plain’s Hyde Square. Known for its Scottish brews, authentic, house made meals and deep fried everything, The Haven has carved its niche in Boston’s restaurant scene. On the heels of its maiden year, the Scottish hot spot earned its place on the Best of Boston 2011 list for best bar menu/specialty restaurant.
Atmosphere: If Stuart Rankin–Mike Myers’ ‘All Things Scottish’ character on "Saturday Night Live" – opened a pub, this would be it. “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!” danced through my head upon entering this cozy, dimly lit establishment. It pays homage to all things Scottish, yet manages to not go overboard. Photos of Sean Connery and Billy Connolly, alongside the Scottish flag, adorn the walls. Bagpipes and traditional Scottish tunes provide upbeat, yet not overwhelming, background music. Antlers provide makeshift light fixtures overhead and a copy of Scottish Life Magazine is available on the bar for light reading. A small television over the bar airs sporting events, usually football (i.e. soccer) games.
Drinks: The Haven takes pride in its beers, the list of which changes regularly. On the restaurant's website it says, “We celebrate the Kelpie and Fraoch, the Grozet and the Alba pine – Beers that are not only groundbreaking but historical and inspirational.” Notable Scottish brewers include Innis and Gunn and The Williams Brothers. The current seasonal pint is The Haven Heather Ale ($6, served through September), provided by The Notch Brewery of Ipswich, MA, and Kennebunk, ME. A short and sweet wine list includes red, white and port ($6-$9/glass). Specialty cocktails are also available, including Braveheart ($8), which is a sweet and tart bourbon-based concoction with orange bitters and lemon juice. The Braveheart’s cheeky drink description adds that “we’re claiming the title back from that Aussie psycho.”
Appetizers: Short, sweet and authentic, the appetizer menu changes on a weekly basis. However, the constant is that all dishes, with a few minor exceptions, are made in house from scratch. Diners will find more meaty and fried options than leafy greens. The vegetables that are available, while delicious, tend to be of the root variety. The Scottish specialty of haggis and neeps ($9), comprised of the lamb’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs) and mashed rutabaga, topped with Drambuie butter, is a hearty starter and could easily be shared. The Scotch deviled egg ($8), is slightly heart healthier: though wrapped in sausage, it is served on a bed of arugula.
Entrées: Keeping with the meaty fare, The Haven serves a juicy cheeseburger ($14), comprised of 8 ounces of grilled beef chuck, topped with Huntsman cheese, house made bacon-onion marmalade, house made pickle sauce, lettuce and tomato, accompanied by a generous serving of thick steak fries (or ‘chips,’ for you UK purists). Chicken, pork and fish dishes also make the cut for this week’s menu. Hardly a haven for vegans, The Haven does nonetheless offer vegetarian options, including the barley risotto ($17), made with pearl barley, caramelized sweet corn, king oyster mushrooms and grana cheese.
Brunch: Sweet, savory and something for the kids; the brunch menu has it all. Toffee French toast ($13) is made with bread from , Roslindale’s local bakery, and served with toffee sauce, blueberries and maple whipped cream. The Full Scotch ($15 is a filling meal made with fried eggs, house smoked bacon, house made sausage, black pudding, baked beans, tattie scones, and grilled pineapple. Three options for the little ones include a breakfast sandwich, plain French toast and scrambled eggs with toast (all $6).
Late Night: The Haven closes nightly at 1 a.m., but offers a late night food menu from 9:30 p.m. The list is relatively short, yet broad, and cheaper than the regular dinner prices. The options include the cheeseburger (for the same price); Finnan Haddie croquettes (crispy smoked haddock and potato balls with pickled cherry pepper aioli, $6); and a side of thick, hand cut chips with a side of house made ketchup ($5).
Desserts: For courageous eaters who still have room in their bellies after a hearty meal at The Haven, a heavy dessert menu awaits. Chocolate bread pudding ($8) served with coconut curry ice cream tops the list. The deep-fried Mars bar ($5) is a local favorite, spawning a “deep fried suggestion box” at the bar. The August winner was deep fried s’mores, which has been a popular summer treat.
Glossary: For Scottish culinary neophytes, The Haven graciously offers a glossary at the bottom of the menu, defining certain foodie terms. Among them are haggis and neeps (explained above, in the appetizers section), breakfast tatties (spiced Yukon gold homefries), black pudding (blood sausage), tattie scone (Scottish mashed potato griddle cake) and Finnan Haddie (smoked haddock).
Service: Laid-back, friendly and welcoming, the proprietor himself greets patrons at the entrance. He happily answered questions about the food, history and establishment itself. The bartender is attentive, yet not overbearing; knowledgeable, but not pushy; simultaneously direct and polite. With a knowing smile, he subtly suggested seats at the bar as a crying infant dominated the dining room. The chef himself delivered the entrées, explaining each dish and establishing a personal rapport. The Haven provides an authentic human element with its service, which is difficult to fake and a rarity in the urban hospitality industry.
Contact: 2 Perkins St., Jamaica Plain
Hours: Mon-Fri Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.;Dinner, 5 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Sat/Sun Brunch, 10:30 a.m-2:30 p.m.;Dinner, 5 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Late night menu served after 9:30 p.m.
Owner: Jason Waddleton
Head Chef: Ben Waxler “Chef Wax”