[Pigging by Wilfrid: December 16, 2009]
Finding myself in Greenwich Village early one evening, I decided it was time to drop by Highlands, the new Scottish restaurant in the old P*Ong spot.
What was P*Ong is now a bar area, mainly standing room, with a few tables for dining. Wisely, Highlands has expanded next door to create a dedicated dining room. Tables were full, people were waiting, and a three-deep crowd was calling cocktail orders to the bar-tenders. Miraculously, I grabbed an empty stool.
From this one sample, the crowd is young, well-dressed and more comfortable with signature cocktails than PRB and a shot: very Greenwich Village, in fact much the same crowd as once thronged Bar Blanc a few doors away. I can't say cocktails were being scrupulously measured by the mixologists - it was a case of shake, sniff and pour- but they were selling like hotcakes. I studied the list of single malts, three pages which puts Highlands into the serious ranks of the city's whisky bars. I didn't see - perhaps didn't notice - too many obscure offerings, but this would be a good place to compare different bottlings of Laphroiag or Glenfiddich. I sipped a Lagavulin.
If I miss anything about the U.K., it's the meat pies (including scotch eggs as a sort of honorary meat pie), and so I was keen to get my hands on a Scottish sausage roll. Except it wasn't: it was thoroughly tweaked (or they were - I guess it becomes two sausage rolls if it's cut in half). Moroccan-style is the best description I can come up with: the filling was ground lamb rather than the traditional pork, and it was assertively spiced. Not a merguez filling though, or at least paprika was not obvious. For dipping, a sprightly harissa sauce, and a sharply dressed salad on the side.
The pastry sealed the deal though. Traditional, flaky, correctly greasy, sausage roll pastry. Love for it is in my genes.
As for the rest of the menu, no sign of haggis as yet. Veal cheek bread pudding is calling to me, though, and I'll return soon.
P.S. Incidentally, anyone wanting to experience a traditional British sausage roll should head over to Myers of Keswick, the grocery on Hudson. The two outposts of Tuck Shop in the East Village serve something similar, but the filling has more vegetable content and is slightly sweeter. All good; and both places sell a range of meat pies too.