Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Haggis at St. Andrews (140 W. 46th street)

Ever since I saw Andrew Zimmern’s episode on making haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland, I’ve been hoping to cut open an intestine bag full of… cooked intestines myself.

Except, Haggis is not made of intestines. Haggis is a Scottish dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Yum - heart, liver and lungs are my favorite!

My research pointed me to a couple of places in New York that serve haggis --ChipShop in Park Slope (383 5th Avenue) and St. Andrews near Times Square (140 W. 46th street). I had a couple of tickets to a new Broadway production of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, so the choice between the two came down to location.

St. Andrews looked like a decent enough place for being in the middle of Tourist Central. Their menu listed haggis, along with a decent selection of scotch, and boasted of its kilted bartenders, with a joke attached no less. When you see someone wearing a kilt, you are supposed to ask “What are you wearing under there?” The proper answer to that, of course, is “Shoes!” Unfortunately, our server was not wearing a kilt, and we failed to peer into the bar area, so we can’t testify if indeed they have kilted bartenders.

Most of us ordered the homemade haggis with neeps ‘n’ tatties (turnips and mashed potatoes in Scotts-speak), which is on their appetizer menu. I was licking my chops waiting for a bag of organs, but it turned out that the haggis they serve is “open haggis”, possibly in order to avoid scaring the tourists who can’t handle the sight of entrails.

Open haggis consisted of a small serving of the core of the haggis (the boiled ‘pluck’ part) neatly placed on top of mashed potatoes and topped with turnip puree, all in one neat cylindrical shape. The tower was sprinkled with some parsley and surrounded by a moat of gravy. The presentation was flawless for the less adventurous eaters, but was slightly disappointing for us weirdos. We wanted the whole shebang – stomach and all.

On the bright side, this dish tasted GREAT. It was completely edible and delicious. It tasted like Sheppard's pie with a little bit of heart, liver and lung tanginess. We were all very happy with it, although some of that can be attributed to the scotch consumed prior to and during the meal.

Rating (1-10)
Presentation: 8 (wish we had the original type of haggis in the stomach, but the castle-like structure of this open haggis was beautiful)
Taste: 8 (pretty darn good, although I expected a more pungent flavor. It was overall pretty mild for its reputation)
Texture: 8 (you can eat it even if you chew with dentures!)
Price: $10.95 (it was a satisfying meal for just an appetizer too)
Best part: St. Andrews is smack in the middle of the theater district and the food happens to actually be good -- it makes a fabulous choice for a pre-show dinner.

Please comment: Has anyone tried haggis at ChipShop? Is it any good? Is it deep fried? Anyone know a place that serves closed haggis?

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