St. Andrew's Restaurant
Theatre District, NYC
Review by Diana deRiggs & MaceVindaloo
Love it or hate it, Scottish food is the food of necessity ... and of men. It's not the type of thing you'd expect sissies to eat, except maybe as punishment, or maybe as the result of a dare ... no, these are men who eat the organs of wild beasts to absorb their "benefits" into themselves, who are rough and ready and able to subsist on anything. And they're so manly, they wear skirts, for crying out loud, and do not shave their legs!
Okay, so here at the 'Hut, we greatly admire men in kilts. Which makes St. Andrew's restaurant just off of Broadway a great place to oggle the menfolk the male staff are all in kilts and are very cute! The women are in tiny versions of what has become the "Riverdance / Catholic Schoolgirl / Shania Twain" look and they are universally cute, too. Something for everyone, eh?
The decor is very men's club, with dark wood paneling, paintings of kilt wearers who are hunting beasts and attacking each other, or posing buccolically with loyal dogs on wind-swept landscapes. Or maybe they're just playing golf, hard to tell. There are many bottles of venerable brews, all for sale and tasting. The bar is long and packed with happy people. The dining room is in the back and is usually less crowded, though it can fill up quickly. The seating is comfortable, the lighting is low but adequate, and for Manhattan, the tables aren't too close together. In fact, they are just close enough to each other than you can admire the look and smell of what another table has ordered, so you can do likewise.
The waitresses are well trained, polite, efficient, and pretty knowledgeable. They work hard to keep up with orders, and are very nice about it. We saw the table next to us had a BIG fish-shaped trencher ("bowl" is not an adequate word to describe the metal container) filled with fried squid rings and tentacles, so we ordered one (and the table next to us ordered one, then the one next to that one ... seems like a conspiracy! Och, they're canny!). We also saw the haggis (St. Andrew's claims to be the only NYC restaurant that regularly offers haggis on the menu) was listed under "appetizers" so we were brave (this is purported to be a Scottish environment, after all) and we ordered one of those, too. Both were excellent the squid was tender, the sauce sufficiently piquant (more like cocktail sauce than spaghetti sauce, thank goodness). The chopped-meat-like haggis was layered between what looked like oranged mashed potatoes, which could only be "bashed 'neeps" or rutabaga / turnip. The organ-meat flavor was there, but much milder thanks to the sweetness of the 'neeps. (By the way, this type of "casserole" is one I was served by a man who couldn't cook, but he was trying to impress me he layered cooked ground beef, sliced raw tomatoes, and grated cheese between the mashed potatoes like a moussaka, but it was awful ... the man, however, was less awful.) Very edible, and a great way to be introduced to this dish without the scary stomach or the guy with the dagger.
One of us got the special, which was a double-porkchop served with mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and grilled jumbo shrimp. The other person got sea bass and tomato risotto. Both were moist, cooked very well, seasoned with a talented hand, and the servings were big! We ate slowly because it was worth savoring. (However, mashed sweet potatoes, thought they resemble 'neeps, are not 'neeps. I like 'neeps better.) We were way too full for dessert, which was too bad they had a good cookie plate!
This place has an excellent selection of beer and wines by the glass and at reasonable prices. They claim to have the largest collection of single malts in New York, have a large selection of draught beers and over 100 bottled beer brands. We asked for a dark beer recommendation and the waitress brought "Black Douglas." The label explained that Douglas took Robert the Bruce's heart on the Crusades with him ... we do wonder in what state this heart was?? And why name a beer after someone so ... odd? It's a manly Scottish man thing, I guess ... some of us wouldn't understand, while the rest of us might become quite excitable ...
The bill came to about $100 for drinks, huge appetizers, huge dinners for two foodies. The restaurant does have a prix fixe for $28 which includes an appetizer (soup, green salad, caesar salad), main dish entré (pan-seared salmon with potato scones, grilled honey thistle chicken, or rib eye steak), dessert (crème brûlée, ice cream, or sorbets), coffee or tea. So it's possible to keep the spending spree under control, but for the quality of the meal and the experience, it's reasonably priced.
It's a bar that isn't really one it's more a restaurant with a long bar and good drinks. It's much nicer than your average dive, and though the place is populated with people on the pull after work with coworkers (and pseudo-dorks trying to show off how much they know about computer programming, which is not much), we highly recommend this place for the food, booze, and the kilts!
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