Updated: Mar 14, 2019
It was a dark and stormy night.
Which meant we should have stayed indoors and eaten the food we used our money to buy from the store, but we did not. We called an Uber and headed to Somerville to join the unreasonably large crowd at Highland Kitchen.
I had been to Highland Kitchen once before for brunch and had a fantastic experience. Not only do they have free tampons in the bathroom, but they also make one of the best vegetarian biscuits and gravy I have had in my life. And I've eaten a lot of biscuits covered in a lot of gravy.
This place is somehow always packed. When I went for brunch there was a line out the door before they even opened, but that's brunch. Bitching about your hangover and waiting in line are parts of the experience. And before you say anything, no. They do not take reservations.
However, seeing as it was 9 pm on a sleety Wednesday night, I assumed we could waltz in and grab a seat. What a fool I was.
There was a 35 minute wait for a table for 2, and we had to throw elbows to get a space at the bar where we could wait for our names to be called.
However, nothing calms a hangry stomach like a good cocktail. We ordered a drink that was a combination of ghost pepper syrup, tequilla and lemon. It was spicy enough to tingle, and not so sweet that you need to brush your teeth afterwards. I do not remember the name of this cocktail, nor did I take a picture of it. I've never claimed to be a professional.
Highland Kitchen has all their specials written on the wall in trendy chalkboard ink. This was my first cause for alarm, because in case you can't tell from my shitty picture, the only vegetarian special was soup.
However! Once we sat down and got to look at a menu, hope was restored. Out of their 6 appetizers, 3 of them were vegetarian! That's half the menu! We went with buffalo fried brussels sprouts with bleu cheese sauce, portobello mushroom tacos with red mole sauce, and fried green tomatoes with sour cream sauce. Lots of sauces.
I absolutely love fried brussels sprouts, so they were the first thing my fork went for.
Whoa baby, were these good. I could have easily put away a platter of them. I also always forgot how spicy buffalo sauce is! The only issue I had with these is that I had to occasionally take a break from shoving them in my face to take a gulp of beer to cool the burn.
Even though the sprouts were dredged in buffalo sauce, they were still crispy and perfectly cooked. Squishy, over-cooked brussels sprouts are such a fucking bummer, but these were nicely al dente.
To the tacos!
I love mole sauce so much. If given the opportunity and some privacy, I would gladly eat a tub of it with a spoon. It's one of the things I've missed since becoming vegetarian, because I have yet to see a restaurant or taco truck put this stuff on anything other than meat.
This mole sauce was different than the ones I've had before. It was much sweeter, and didn't have that rich, dark taste it normally gets from the cocoa. This sweetness was evened out with a squeeze from the lime and the cotija cheese. A nice detail about these tacos is that they didn't immediately fall apart as soon as you picked them up, so I was able to eat them slowly like a lady and not quickly shove them into my mouth before they crumble all down the front of my shirt.
Fried green tomatoes! The dish so nice I blogged it twice.
What I liked about this dish is that they sliced the tomatoes a little thicker than they did at Starlight. While there was a decent coating of crispy fried stuff, the tangy tomato taste wasn't completely lost.
That sauce though. I was born and raised in the midwest, so I love me some sour cream, but this was a lot. It completely covered the taste of the breading and tomatoes, and I found myself scraping it off my last couple bites.
Still! A strong start. With half of the appetizer section being veggie - friendly, the rest of the menu should be a breeze!
Again I say unto you; what a fool I was.
After the appetizers, there were five vegetarian dishes I could order as my main meal. Out of those five, one was that super exciting soup and two were salads. And you can go right to hell if you think I left my warm apartment in the freezing rain to eat a salad for dinner. So really I could chose between their black bean veggie burger or the "free form winter vegetable pot pie". We went with the pie.
Pie, free-form. Were the veggies super fresh? Yes. Was the broth rich and delicious? Yes. Was the biscuit delightful? Yea, super delightful. But since I was basically forced to order this, I found it difficult to lose myself in the experience.
Shame, Highland Kitchen. Shame.
But there is a light at the end of every tunnel and our light was Highland Kitchen's banana bread pudding.
Sweet merciful Jesus in heaven above was this good. Eyes-roll-back-in-your-head-moaning-out-loud good. If I were on death row and my last meal was only this, I die happily. If the meal had ended with that bullshit free-form pie this would have been a much different review, but this bread pudding saved the day.
- The vegetarian offerings they had were tasty and well prepared
- They make a cocktail so good you'll forget to Instagram it
- A bread pudding for the gods!
- This was one of the weakest displays of vegetarian entrees I have come across yet.
In conclusion, Highland Kitchen was a bad sandwich of a restaurant; the start and the end were delicious and lovely, while the middle part was a soggy disappointment.
Would I go back? Probably not on my own or with a vegetarian-only group. But if that's where my omnivore pals want to dine, then I'll tag along and make due with brussels sprouts and heavenly bread pudding.