When I was four years old my grandparents moved to Jamaica Plain. With their house as one of our family's home bases, I grew to love that neighborhood, especially Jamaica Pond. I've had some of my most important conversations walking around that pond.
Though my grandfather passed away in 2008 and my grandmother has moved full time to Florida, she still has the house and my parents always stay there when they come to visit. In the past ten years, we've really gotten into exploring more and more of Jamaica Plain.
On one of her recent trips to Boston for work, my mom discovered a place up the street from my grandma's house called The Haven.
The Haven is a Scottish restaurant and I was hesitant to dine there because, to be honest, I had no idea what Scottish food really was.
My mom, dad and I went on a Sunday morning earlier this month for brunch. The sun was shining and the whole dining room was flooded with light. Hanging in the center of the room was a chandelier made of antlers.
The decor in the Haven is very simple - warm wood table tops sandwiched between royal blue chairs.
Along one wall, the booths are nestled against a long bench that's topped with twinkle lights.
The Haven also offers several large tables, perfect for big groups. I was waiting for a rugby team to arrive.
We were seated at one of the tables with the bench seating, my mom and I on one side and my dad on the other. There was already toast and salted butter on the table.
Of course, the first thing I did was look at the drink menu.
Though it wasn't on the cocktail menu, I saw online that they do Bloody Marys. The drink arrived in a mason jar and was topped with a lemon wedge and two pickles.
I found the Bloody to be pretty plain. I really wished it had more pepper.
With drink in hand, we began to peruse the brunch menu. The very first item is "Tipsy Fruit Salad" which is exactly what it sounds like - fruit drenched in booze. I had a feeling I would like this place.
After a few minutes of deliberating, we all placed our orders. My dad's plate was the first to land on the table, the smoked fish cakes.
The cakes were made of haddock and potato and topped with poached eggs and cherry pepper hollandaise sauce.
A few bites in, I asked my dad what he thought of the dish. He doesn't love this part of dining with me. He thought about it and then reluctantly said, "The poached eggs arrived jiggling on top of the fish cakes, which had a great smokey flavor and were very light. It's rare for a fish cake to taste light."
My mom decided on the breakfast sandwich which was a fried egg, Lorne style sausage, tattie scone, Cotswold cheese and pickle sauce on a brioche bun. It came with a side of baked beans.
She immediately commented, "This presentation is beautiful. I am especially impressed with the ramekin topped with the brioche bun. It looks like a thatched roof cottage." She continued, "This sandwich had multiple layers of flavor - the egg, the sausage, the potato cake - each was different, but equally yummy. It was a trifecta of breakfast delights."
When I asked how she liked the side of baked beans, she replied, "The smokey baked beans were an unusual breakfast offering, but I guess I've become Scottish!"
I had a tough time deciding what to order. There were a few things that piqued my interest, but I ultimately went with the vegetable quiche.
The quiche tasted more like a croissant that happened to have a bit of egg. I really like eggs as the centerpiece of my brunch plates, so I was a bit disappointed.
The potatoes on the side were underwhelming, but I did like the tangy dressing on the arugula.
Now, when were debating our order, we all kind of wanted the toffee French toast, but also wanted eggs, so we opted for the egg options. After seeing three plates go by of the French toast we signaled for our waitress and asked, "Is there any way we can order a side of French toast?" She smiled and answered, "Of course. We call that the wee toast." Wee toast it is!
Our wee toast arrived, two pieces of brioche topped with toffee sauce and blueberries, garnished with a generous swirl of maple whipped cream.
This toast was so light and fluffy. When I first read it was toffee French toast I thought it might be sickeningly sweet and sugary, but it was absolutely perfect.
With our egg dishes and our wee toast completely gone, we were quite full and quite happy.
If you're interested in trying Scottish food, The Haven is a cozy, welcoming place with an excellent menu. If you already love Scottish fare, but sure to check out this BuzzFeed list of the 21 Street Foods to Eat in Scotland Before You Die.
Have you been to the Haven? Do you have a favorite dish?