Highland, high score
Highland Kitchen in Union Square is an excellent choice for some casual comfort food
150 Highland Ave.Somerville, MA 02143
Monday – Saturday:
5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
and 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
It seems that every time I visit the Union Square area, I find a new spot that makes me wish that Somerville neighborhood was closer to campus. Highland Kitchen was a find that reaffirmed that sentiment. With well-executed and unique renditions of international comfort food as well as a modest and fun vibe, this restaurant is one that I could see myself returning to night after night.
The entrance of Highland Kitchen is dominated by a large and welcoming bar, complete with cheerful bartenders. The dining area is fairly spacious, but also quite busy, even on a weeknight. Decorations with a hipster slant adorning the walls, and the atmosphere displays creativity, which also translates to their menu.
My waiter was friendly and accommodating, and the entire staff was primed to work together to give guests the best dining experience possible. My water glass was never empty, finished plates were cleared promptly, and every question I had about the menu was answered thoroughly. Even if you just want to stop by for an after-work drink or a quick bite, Highland Kitchen will work hard to make you happy.
This menu has something for everyone, featuring comfort food favorites from jambalaya to bolognese. I started by playing eenie-meenie-miney-moe with the appetizer list, which simply had too many good looking options for an easy choice, and ended up ordering the creole shrimp remoulade. With perfectly cooked shrimp accompanied by a side of slightly firmer fried green tomatoes, all drenched in a delicious sauce with just the right amount of Cajun spice, this appetizer immediately let me know that they take food seriously.
I followed shrimp with a kale salad, which, as an eater with a strong carnivorous bias, surprised me by being one of the highlights of the night. Though it didn’t come with the pomegranates on the menu — they are out of season — the replacement golden beets paired well with the ample amount of Romano cheese and zesty vinaigrette.
Moving to the main part of my meal, I had to order the rhyming “Cuban Reuben”, which blends two of my favorite types of sandwich. The emphasis was definitely on the Reuben half, as the dish came with a generous amount of pickled cabbage and Russian dressing. However, the flavor of the roasted pork cut through those condiments and gave exactly the right amount of the Cuban kick. What really took this sandwich over the top was the sandwich’s crunchy grilled French bread, which gave a nice texture to every bite. The bonus on this plate was a truly enormous side of perfectly crisped hand-cut fries, which I could not stop eating long after I was full.
The other entrée that drew my eye was the goat stew — possibly due to the illustration of a goat right on the menu. Though advertised by both the menu and our waiter as spicy, I decided to steel myself and go for it. While the stew did make me empty my water glass at least once, the heat was not overwhelming and allowed all of the other flavors to come through. The goat was tender and the side of sweet fried plantains complemented the flavor of the stew, giving a respite from the spice whenever one was needed. After finishing off the stew, I was tempted to ignore the fact that I was in public and lick the plate clean.
Dessert placed the exclamation point on a divine dinner. Though there are several options, the warm banana bread pudding called my name as soon as the waiter handed me a menu. This delicious combination of banana custard and baked bread, covered in a decadent caramel sauce with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, was good enough to make me stop eating after the first bite just to say, “Wow.” Of course, I soon got over that and polished off the rest.
Highland Kitchen ranks as one of the best restaurants I’ve visited in Boston. With an unpretentious atmosphere and marvelous waitstaff, you will definitely be kept happy while you are there. Although some of the pricier entrées break $20, the sandwiches are a steal at around $10. Every dish I tried was a distinct and delicious version of a comfort food classic from somewhere in the world, and the menu has more than enough variety to keep even the most adventurous eaters satisfied. Make the trip to Union Square to visit Highland Kitchen. You will be glad you did.