Tuesday, September 18, and Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
I have eaten twice at Highland Kitchen in Somerville, Massachusetts. I was introduced to the restaurant by a friend from high school named Sam. I have referenced him in my blog previously, though not by name. He is one of the more interesting people I have ever met, frequently blunt but rarely wrong.
I’ve fallen out of touch with most of my high school friends but not Sam. Earlier this year we met for lunch at the MET Bar & Grille in the Natick Mall to catch up properly, and during that conversation I learned that Sam is a discerning foodie. It felt strange to realize that in five years of friendship — and I think I know him pretty well — I had no idea he was interested in food.
Clearly we needed to arrange a foodie outing. Sam invited me and my boyfriend to dinner with his parents, who are apparently also discerning foodies, at Highland Kitchen. Sam explained that his family has various favorites among “specialty restaurants” (sushi, barbecue, etc.), but that Highland Kitchen was their favorite all-around general “restaurant-restaurant.” We planned a dinner for Tuesday, September 18, giving me a little time to settle in at Northeastern and get used to my schedule. I looked forward to it for weeks.
When we arrived, we were delighted to find a small parking lot behind the restaurant for patrons, as well as metered street parking. We walked inside and were greeted by a friendly host and a very low-key atmosphere. The whole room feels like kick-back-and-relax-after-a-hard-day’s-work. Stress is not welcome. I decided that I liked the ambiance before we had even sat down.
Sam and his parents arrived shortly, and even if we hadn’t already known that Sam’s family are regulars at Highland Kitchen, it would have been immediately apparent. The staff swarmed to say hello. I think it’s always encouraging to see that restaurant staff remember and are excited to see their regular customers. Aside from being good service, a restaurant that takes an interest in its patrons is more likely to be serving them quality food.
|Ricotta-and-mozzarella fritters with chile-honey dipping sauce.|
I ordered the house ginger beer and was warned it would be spicy. My throat was hurting and I’ve heard that ginger ale-type drinks are good for the throat, and lo, this drink turned out to be a good decision. The strong ginger flavor was spicy but soothing — even medicinal, in my case!
|House ginger beer. Spicy!|
|“Aromatic lamb tacos” with cucumber yogurt sauce and shredded lettuce.|
For my entrée I selected the blackened catfish po’ boy ($9.95). Sam’s mother recommended the dish to me and then ordered it herself. As with the ginger beer, I was warned the sandwich would be spicy, but between the two the beer takes that prize. The catfish meat was indeed blackened and topped with diced tomatoes and lettuce. On the side were pickles. Sam had informed me that Highland Kitchen’s pickles are excellent. As a Pickle Person, I can second that. Try Highland Kitchen’s pickles.
|Blackened catfish po’ boy with diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce, with fries and pickles on the side.|
Instead I tried the warm banana bread pudding ($6). I love banana bread. In sixth grade my English teacher made us a cookbook with one recipe from each student. Banana bread was mine. I also created the cover art for the cookbook. Aren’t you glad you know that? Anyway, Highland Kitchen’s banana bread pudding came with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, and I loved it. The vanilla ice cream got all melt-y from the hot banana bread pudding and mixed with the caramel … omnomnom cozy comfort-food wonderful-ness. (Sometimes prose gets messy, but it’s okay when you’re writing about dessert.)
|Warm banana bread pudding.|
|Chocolate pudding with crushed peanut brittle and whipped cream.|
Nearly a month later I had my second trip to Highland Kitchen. It was mostly inspired by working on this post. The more I wrote, the more I wanted a second trip. What’s more, I had been at Northeastern for over a month and my group of friends have all stuck pretty close to the campus — in fact, we really haven’t ventured farther than the Prudential Center area. So my dormmate Hannah and I decided to show that we are, in fact, quite the Intrepid Explorers by going all the way to Somerville for dinner. Yeah. That’ll show them!
I settled on spicy coconut curried goat stew ($18), a specialty of Highland Kitchen which Sam’s mother had also recommended on our first visit. Hannah ordered mac ‘n’ cheese ($3.95) from the “small plates and snacks” section. She described it as having a “Christmas-y” flavor, which sounded odd to me but as soon as I tasted it, I understood and agreed with her. It was the cinnamon, we decided. Highland Kitchen’s mac ‘n’ cheese has very creamy flavor rather than a sharper cheddar flavor. It was a bit different from what I would usually expect when ordering mac ‘n’ cheese at a restaurant, but we both liked it!
|Mac ‘n’ cheese.|
|Organic green salad with sherry-mustard vinaigrette and goat cheese crostinis.|
|Coconut curried goat stew with jasmine rice, carrots, and fried plantains.|
Hannah and I split a hot fudge brownie sundae ($6) for dessert. An excellent end to a second excellent meal.
|Hot fudge brownie sundae.|