Restaurant Report: Boyd's Jig & Reel

Jenny Boyd, owner of Boyd's Jig & Reel, swears she wanted the pub to be known for the music, not the food, but she admits the traditional pub fare they're dishing out has "surpassed expectations. We eat here all the time. We love it. We had food because we had to have food, but it's been great."

The music is a draw with "sessions" on Tuesdays and Thursdays and bands on Fridays and Saturdays. Jenny, who took up the fiddle and mandolin as an adult, visited Scotland with her husband Randy, and they fell in love with Taybank Pub in Dunkeld, Scotland. When they returned, Randy said, "Let's go look at buildings." The former home of Manhattan's, in an historic building at the corner of Jackson and Central in the Old City, proved to be the perfect location for kilt-wearing servers, traditional music, and Scottish pub fare. Instruments hanging on the brick walls and Jenny's mother's portrait over the piano give the place a homey feel.

The food at the Jig & Reel is characteristic of the food at the Taybank. The stovie, a classic dish prepared with stewed onions, potatoes, and carrots mixed with braised lamb tips, is Randy's favorite at the pub in Dunkeld. The fried Mars bar served with ice cream is "big in Scotland," according to Jenny. The macaroni pie was inspired by tiny ones sold at a bakery in Dunkeld. The entrée-sized pie at the Jig & Reel consists of macaroni and cheddar-based mornay sauce topped with cheddar and swiss cheeses, puff pastry, and a sprinkling of Benton's bacon. "This is definitely a comfort-food place," says Jenny.

Chef Bryan Langan, who has been working in restaurants since he was 15, has added his own touch to some dishes. His chicken cider pie, a variation on a traditional chicken pot pie, marries Strongbow hard cider with chicken, red onions, carrots, and Granny Smith apples. "Everything is made from scratch," says Langan. "I'm not a re-heater. I like cooking from scratch." He's proud of the Highland dressing, made with their own spice blend, mayo, honey, and balsamic vinegar, and the surprisingly light shrimp and scallop chowder.

And, of course, there's the Scotch. Right now, there are over 100 selections, the largest in Tennessee, with more on the way. For a really authentic pub experience, split open a package of Waker's Chips to go with a bottle of ale.

Boyd's Jig & Reel

101 S. Central Street 247-7066

Tuesday-Sunday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.

Must Haves:

Scotch Egg: Scotch Eggs are boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs, fried, and baked. School children in Scotland take these in their pockets for lunch. At the Jig & Reel, the Scotch Egg is quartered and served cold with mixed greens tossed with the house vinaigrette and a bit of spicy Colman's mustard. It's simply divine.

Fish and Chips: A large piece of moist fried cod is served atop a generous helping of some of the best seasoned fries around. The tartar sauce is a pleasing blend of mayo, pickle relish, capers, and bits of red onion. It's so authentic you'll swear it flew across the Atlantic to your plate.

Sticky Toffee Pudding: A square of cake made with dates is served with warm toffee sauce alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A recent visitor from Scotland took a bite and declared, "I've died and gone to heaven." She wasn't exaggerating.