Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Haven Gastropub (Orange, CA)

Haven Gastropub
190 S Glassel St, Orange, CA 92866
Wed 12/29/2010, 07:00p-08:35p

Haven Gastropub Exterior
A British portmanteau of gastronomy and pub, a gastropub refers to a pub (itself short for public house) that serves particularly high-quality food. The idea was born in 1990's London, but eventually spread 'cross the pond, quickly taking hold in the US. In LA, the archetype is perhaps best exemplified by the likes of BoHo, Father's Office, Ford's Filling Station, The Lab, Laurel Tavern, Lazy Ox Canteen, The Six, Waterloo & City, and The Yard. Inevitably, the gastropub movement moved down south, first manifesting itself in September 2007 with the opening of Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona del Mar. Crow Bar was eventually joined by the likes of Haven in September 2009, and SideDoor at Five Crowns in December that year. As of this writing, these are the only three gastropubs in OC that this writer is aware of.

Located in the heart of Old Towne Orange, Haven represents the brainchild of Executive Chef Greg Daniels, GM/Beverage Director Wil Dee, and money man Ace Patel. Daniels began working in the restaurant industry in the late 1990's, but garnered his formal culinary education at the California School of Culinary Arts' Le Cordon Bleu program, graduating in 2005. Following, he took a position at Tradition by Pascal, where he worked for the famed Pascal Olhats until 2006. From here, he cooked under Andrew Sutton at Napa Rose, then began a stint as a consultant before joining the Haven team in 2009. Given the success of Haven, Daniels, Dee, and Patel will be opening non-traditional taqueria Taco Asylum at The CAMP soon, so watch out for that.

Haven Gastropub Menu
Aided by Sous Chefs Mike Wegrzyn and David Larsen, Daniels aims to present his version of "gourmet comfort food" at Haven. We were here to sample the restaurant's new winter menu, which debuted at the beginning of December. Click for a larger version.

Haven Gastropub Beer List Haven Gastropub Wine List
Of course, the booze is worthy of just as much consideration here. Click for larger versions.

Lindemans Framboise & La Chouffe
Beer was certainly called for, and so we began with Lindemans Framboise [$12] and La Chouffe [$9], a.k.a. "the beer that got me into beer."

'liver and onions'
"liver and onions" [$12.00] | crispy rabbit liver, onion jam, micro radish, micro dijon
First to bat was a take on the classic dish of liver and onions. The traditional version typically uses beef liver, but here rabbit liver (which I'd never had before) was the star. I appreciated the meaty consistency of the liver, as well as its crunchy exterior, but found the flavor a bit strong, even for me. The microgreens did help temper the dish fortunately. The onions did too, but were very sweet.

Seasonal Mushroom Risotto
Seasonal Mushroom Risotto [$16.00] | farro, mushrooms, truffle salt, chevre
As a risotto fiend, I just had to order this dish. Though I missed the consistency and mouthfeel of rice (versus the farro used here), this was still a tasty presentation of risotto nonetheless. I enjoyed how the earthy essence of the mushroom shined clear and through in the dish, making itself clearly known on the palate, where it was joined by the salty weight of the chevre.

Oxtail Poutine
Oxtail Poutine [$12.00] | red wine braised oxtail, cheddar cheese curds, pommes frites
Canada's national dish has made its way to Haven in fine form. Think of this as a refined version of your classic chili cheese fries. The oxtail, as you might expect, was thoroughly tender, teeming with rich, dark, bovine sapor. To this, the cheddar added further heft, further lusciousness, while the pommes frites did a great job in grounding the dish. One of the best poutines that I've had, comparable to Animal's famed preparation.

Crisp Braised Pork Belly
Crisp Braised Pork Belly [$18.00] | Saison Dupont reduction, celery root puree, fennel, mache, dijon mustard microgreens, apple vinaigrette
Pork belly was nicely tender, succulent, and full of pork-y goodness. I wasn't terribly keen on the celeriac purée, but definitely liked the lightness of the fennel and mache salad. I just wish that the skin were crispier.

Cassoulet [$24.00] | duck confit, pork belly, boudin blanc, cannellini beans
Our final savory was a cassoulet, basically a slow-cooked bean and meat casserole, very apropos for the winter season. I didn't get much from the pork belly, but really enjoyed the silky, delicate flavor of the boudin blanc, which was arguably the best I've ever had. The confit, meanwhile, was tender and savory, as expected. The crux here for me, though, was the use of cannellini beans. They added a hearty, rustic taint to the dish that I really appreciated.

Duchesse de Bourgogne
Ahead of the desserts, I decided to go for a bottle of the Duchesse de Bourgogne [$9], which was first introduced to me by Josh Goldman over at The Dining Room. I loved its tart cherry flavors, and my dining companion even described it as a "sour Arrogant Bastard!"

Haven Gastropub Dessert Menu Haven Gastropub After-Dinner Drink Menu
Now for the sweet stuff. Unfortunately, Haven had already run out of their new foie gras cheesecake, which we we'd really wanted to try--next time. Click for larger versions.

Irish Car Bomb
Irish Car Bomb [$8.00] | Guinness chocolate stout cake, Guinness ice cream, Irish Cream chocolate sauce, Jameson caramel
As most college-age drinkers will know, an Irish Car Bomb is a concoction of stout beer, cream liqueur, and whiskey. Here was the cocktail presented in dessert form, suitable for all ages. The chocolate cake was fairly typical, but I loved the inclusion of Guinness ice cream. Quite tasty overall.

Haven apple strudel
Haven apple strudel [$9.00] | apples, raisins, pecans, whipped bourbon infused maple syrup
We concluded the evening with a mean looking apple strudel. It was a classic preparation, showing off the tart sugariness of apple intermixed with a bit of nuttiness from the pecan, with the whipped cream topping adding further sweetness to the fray. Nice.

Though Haven may lack the refinement, polish, and sense of adventure of some of its LA brethren, it's the right concept for the neighborhood. The restaurant's accessible, satisfying fare and voluminous alcohol selection fit the bill nicely, and represent a welcomed addition to the OC dining scene. It's no wonder that Haven has quickly become a staple of Old Towne Orange, worthy of a revisit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, those dishes lean themselves toward the heart-stopping! Not that I don't love that kind of stuff, but they were one fat bomb after another!

Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Marian the Foodie said...

We struck out on desserts that day. Boo! :(

I LOVE their oxtail poutine! I actually think it's better than Animals.

Oh btw here's my review of Taco Asylum, their new restaurant.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

strange how the savories are so unimaginative and the desserts much more creative. i wonder whether there's a different vision coming out of the hot and pastry kitchens

Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Thomas D. said...

Glad you liked Haven. I live about a 5 minute walking distance and frequent it all the time. I do have to say the Haven Burger and Lamb Burger are two of the standouts for me and next time you head over there, you have to get the foie gras cheesecake.

Friday, January 14, 2011 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I agree with Thomas D.

My wife and I went to Haven and we both got different burgers. I the lamb, she the Haven. We were both very happy with that.

Our appetizer was somewhat disappointing, but the Duvel and beer selection made up for it.

Friday, January 14, 2011 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Although, we could go elsrwhere for the prototype gourmet burger: Uva Bar. Father's Office. Umami Burger Tustin Brewery. etc.

Where is TK coming out with his burgers and bottles restaurant concept?!

Friday, January 14, 2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andy: Yup, we even had to take some of it to go, which almost never happens.

Marian: Yeah too bad about the desserts. :p I think I might want to check out Taco Asylum sometime.

CC: I'm not sure that the desserts are all that creative!

Thomas: Thanks for the recommendations on the burgers. And yes, definitely cheesecake next time if I can.

Mike: Which app did you get? Did you know that Haven is opening in Pasadena? I wouldn't hold my breath on the burgers & bottles. ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011 4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"Housemade Potato Chips soaked in beer, fresh herbs, garlic aioli."

There was a little bit too much oil left in the chips and the garlic aioli was muted for my taste. I guess that an appetizer can be more subtle in flavor, but I would rather have something bold. Slap me in the face.

Ironically, we have not been back since.

Friday, January 14, 2011 5:42:00 PM  

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