Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Burns Supper, The Haven, JP

The Haven is known around Boston as the Scottish pub with authenticity: the food, the decor, the beer list, the people. It's as if you can step off a Jamaica Plain street and stumble into a Scottish local without ever having to flash your passport. We live only a few blocks from The Haven, so when we were invited to the traditional Burns Supper, we eagerly accepted the invitation.
The Burns Supper is an annual tradition in which the life and work of poet Robert Burns is celebrated. Along with readings of Robert Burns work, a dinner of haggis is served. The Haven in Jamaica Plain fully embraces their Scottish heritage and puts on several Burns Suppers around the birthday of the poet (January 25th). We were fortunate enough to attend a dinner on the Sunday night, January 27th.
It was a fairly cold night, so we made our walk extra brisk. As we entered The Haven, we were greeted with a fresh hot toddy, a great treat that warmed us right up. While the whisky was a great start, both my wife and I immediately reached for a couple Scottish favorites: Innis & Gunn (rum cask) and a Belhaven.

Before dinner was served, Jason, The Haven's proprietor, addressed the crowd and gave his welcoming speech. Upon giving a brief history of Robert Burns and the supper named after the man, students from a local West Roxbury dance school performed authentic Scottish Highland dancing.
The main event of the night was the traditional Scottish dish, haggis. Prior to the serving of the dish was the piping of the haggis, which involves the reading of a Robert Burns poem. We received some helpful translations from Jason, but by itself is a pretty entertaining (albeit slightly confusing) reading. I took some video, and while the the video is a bit dark, the audio gives an idea of what to expect.

Even though we frequent The Haven quite often, we have never been brave enough to try the haggis. Essentially a sausage filled with oatmeal, sheep kidney, and beef heart, it certainly sounds a bit intimidating. What we found was an extremely comforting and hearty meal, similar to a ground lamb or beef with seasonings. Along with a side of mash and neeps, the meal was the perfect culmination to an authentic Scottish celebration.
The Haven has been serving Burns Supper since the restaurants inception, and they've been improving year over year. If looking for a night of entertainment, traditional, unique food, and a bit of Scottish history, keep your eyes peeled for the 2014 Burns Supper at The Haven!