Sunday, May 1, 2011

the scottish arms

countless times while on our way to terrene, we've driven by the scottish arms, mistakenly assuming that they wouldn't feed "our kind."  we'll be the first to tell you that it was our mistake (you know what they say about making assumptions...), and we're glad to have been proven wrong.  vegetarians don't usually have a lot of options when it comes to finding good pub grub, let alone some homemade, traditional scottish and english favorites. whiskey and veggie pasty, anyone? cheers!

central west end

it's comfortably lived-in, with all the nicks and scratches and the accumulated chotchkes to prove it. the scottish arms almost feels like it's been here for generations, your local cwe public house. the old ceiling tiles, the mantle-like bar, and the tall, sturdy booths make it a cozy spot for a post-work happy hour or an evening nightcap.

one of our favorite things about the scottish arms is that the servers are decked out in kilts, and it somehow manages not to be self-conscious, costumey, or gimmicky in the least. our server was really helpful with suggestions and didn't hesitate at all when we informed her of our diet. she quickly fired back with all the options we had and made clear that she would talk to the chef for us if we had any concerns. we did have a miscommunication at one point, but she took care of the issue without us having to prompt her to. bonus points in our book.

we started with the cheddar ale dip and melted brie over black garlic baguette. originally, we were trying to ask for the black garlic baguette with the dip (in lieu of its usual bread), but we got both instead. it was a happy accident, and that's saying a lot because neither of us likes brie--but it was smooth without being waxy and had a really subdued pungency. usually brie rind is just a touch too keen for us, but apparently melting it makes all the difference. once again, we were glad for the scottish arms to prove us wrong. the dip was unlike any other beer-cheese dip we've had before. this one managed not to separate at all--even when it cooled off--and it showed off both flavors equally well.  the only criticism we have for this one is really only a half-criticism--it was a little thin and has the consistency of a soup more than a dip. still, it was fun to soak our breads in, and when the flavor is this spot-on, we can forgive a little soupiness. 

to supplement our entree, we got some roasted root vegetables and a couple orders of colcannon (a combination of mashed potatoes, cabbage, caraway seeds, and red onion).  the roasted roots were well seasoned and had a nice browning on them.  they were tender but not overdone, and they featured a nice variety.  really simple, really lovely. the colcannon, on the other hand, were strangely unevenly seasoned: pockets of salt made our faces pucker, while other, unsalted pockets just tasted sort of starchy and bland. we know not everyone else will agree, but we also thought they were too buttery (or maybe it was also just that the butter was also lumped in there unevenly). the caraway seeds (which are actually technically fruits, did you know? us either!) add deliciously nippy kicks of flavor to balance the richness of the butter. it's definitely worth a try, just maybe give it a good stir before you dig in. 

finally, we finished with the vegetable curry pasty. it was served fresh out of the oven, piping hot, with a brilliant brown on the pastry. pasties are truly a comfort food: warm, flaky, buttery, reminiscent of family dinners around the dining room table. even if that never really happened, pasties can transport you there. we were glad to have such a vibrant side salad because, unfortunately, the pasty is not as wholesome as you might think it would be. there just isn't the space for a whole lot of vegetables in that pastry pocket, and the proportion of dough turns out to be a bit generous. it's a good dough, no doubt, but once it cools off and the vegetables are gone, it's not enough on its own. the curry sauce, too, isn't loud enough (even for english curry) to make it a dish we'll crave. it's not a bad dish by any means, just not one we'll opt for in the future. still, we think it's pretty awesome that they offer a meatless pasty, and we certainly weren't displeased enough to discourage anyone--vegetarian or omnivore--from giving it a try.

all in all, we were pleasantly surprised with our meal at the scottish arms, and we're grateful to know that whenever we're craving a taste of the u.k., we can head over to sarah street and see what they've got cooking.


vegetarian-friendly score:
Scottish Arms on Urbanspoon


  1. the cheddar ale dip looks amazing and the veggie pasty, YUM! my hubs is a brit - i will have to bring him here!

  2. we're dying to know what a true brit thinks about the food at scottish arms! please give us an update once you've had a chance to visit. and thanks for reading, lucy!