Springboro’s newest restaurant, The Highland Stag is a family affair. Owner Ann Mackenzie comes from a line of restaurateurs in Gorebridge, Scotland. Her daughter Heather, will manage the day to day operations. Heather’s grandmother owned the Willow Plate Café a family operated eatery on the main street in Gorebridge, Scotland and many of the authentic family recipes started there and have been handed down to Heather.
Located at 75 N. Main Street, just north of St. Rt 73, the restaurant will be open Tues and Wed from 4-midnight and from 11am – midnight Thursday through Sunday, and closed on Monday, with the full menu available through closing. With about 90 seats inside, The Highland Stag also has a patio with umbrella tables for another 40 guests. A soft opening is currently in progress with the Grand Opening is scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2017.
“Every aspect of the interior has been well thought out to tell the story” states Heather
Mackenzie, Manager for The Highland Stag. The aspects are rich in history from the logo on the door mats to the top shelf Scotches. The copper bar top and lighting accents reference one of Scotland’s major, natural resources and reflects the beauty and warmth of the establishment. A 30-ft. mural of the clan’s ancestral castle, the Eilean Donan, hangs on the wall of the dining room. Great care was given to mimic an original Scottish pub through the dark wood and trim. The original family crest logo and a print of the Monarch of Glen painting welcome you at the door with the inspiration behind the name, The Highland Stag.
The all scratch kitchen offer 25 items to start and I was lucky enough to get to taste many of them. The maple bacon flavored sausage wrapped around a hard boiled egg make up the Scotch Eggs which are served with Branston Pickle on a bed of mixed greens. Having never heard of this pickle, Heather explained it’s really more of sweet and spicy chutney made from a variety of pickled vegetables diced very small and swimming in a thto come areick sauce made of tomato, vinegar, dates, spices, and sugar. The result is a savory condiment that gives recipes a depth of flavor much the way worcester sauce does. This is a perfect appetizer to share.
Next up we tried the Roasted Beet Salad, a colorful dish featuring yellow and red beets, walnuts, red onions, and radishes, topped with feta cheese and a house made beet vinaigrette. Guests have the option of turning the salad into a meal by adding fish, chicken or a steak to the salad.
Chef Consultant Drew Ballard, Chefs Josh Allen, formerly of Carvers and Tony Kobes, who came from the Golden Lamb, between them have over fifty years of experience. Chef Josh shared with us that this is the first time he’s had a hand in creating a menu from scratch and that it’s been months of experiments, trying to create the perfect dishes to compliment the family recipes on the menu.
He said the worked long and hard to find just the right batter for the fish and chips, trying over a dozen recipes, finally settling on a
Harp Lager for the fish, with is served up with a kraut slaw.
The batter is light and crispy with many here in the batter. Chef shared his goal is to grow many of the herbs used in their cooking in a small garden located behind the restaurant. Basil, parsley, mint, thyme start the garden out with hopes to add tomatoes, and peppers soon.
Of course there’s aReuben on the menu, the MacKenzie Reuben is stacked high with house made corned beef ( a family recipe) and served up with a red pepper slaw, with Mackenzie sauce on a marble rye and house cut french fries.
The St. Andrews Burger on the menu is an 8oz hand pattied burger, smothered in caramelized onions topped with a smoked gouda cheese and a maple, mustard aioli on a brioche bun and served with a gherkin pickle. All meats and eggs at The Stag are sourced locally
Still to come the vegetarian and children’s menu, still a work in progress at the time of our visit.
Finish off your meal with the Sticky Toffee Pudding, a classic British dessert consisting of a very moist sponge cake, made with finely chopped dates, covered in a toffee sauces and served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The Stag will have over 30 Scotches ranging from Dewar’s to Macallan and Johnny Walker Blue. The Dalmore line is the hallmark of this line due to the noteworthy distinction and the familial ties to the Dalmore distillery. The brass draft bridge, named Goliath, sports 20 craft beers through the sophisticated cooling system that keeps the temps at 34 degrees to the tap. Guinness, Harp, Bellhaven, and Smithwicks will be the mainstays, while the other 16 will rotate but focus on Scottish, Celtic and local craft brews.
Wine connoisseurs will find a solid wine list and he bar offers an extensive liquor list with an emphasis on Scotch. The scratch kitchen even plays into the bar, as all the simple syrups will be made in house. A selection of signature cocktails focusing on liquors from the seven Celtic nations including the Twisted Kilt– Captain Morgan Rum, and juices, William Wallace– Dewars with muddled fresh blue berries and fruit juices and the Black Watch– a blend of Hendricks Gin and special liquors, pictured here from left to right.
Dave Libengood heads up the marketing and public relations for The Highland Stag. “We are working with local craft breweries, festivals, and non-profits to provide service and an outstanding product. Promoting the brands and stories along with community involvement are keys to the direction of the Stag.” The management staff have been very involved for years with youth activities and non-profits and will offer the facility to fund raising activities and giving back. Future plans include special wine and beer dinners, Scotch tasting events and cigar dinners on the patio.
Our taste test was a big hit, and we’ve already been back for another order of those scotch eggs, and tried their steak entree, which came out smothered in mushrooms with a heaping helping of home made mashed potatoes. We think the traditional Celtic fare of The Highland Stag will quickly become Springboro’s most popular eatery!