It was a clear black night, a clear white moon. Warren G was on the streets, trying to consume. Some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk. Just rollin’ in my ride, chillin’ all alone. That was some regulators action for you. I always feel like the OC can use some more gangster rap. Anyways, before you think I’m getting all randon, it really was a clear black late night, and I was trying to consume…some food. For some reason, no Del Taco run or even In-n-Out would have quenched my craving. I was feeling like a sit down — something like bar food, but better. I wanted something clean, yet greasy, and maybe a nice drink to go with it. A gastropub was the perfect solution for this late night craving. Haven Gastropub in Orange, I was headed.
For the drink, I probably chose the most girly “beer” there was. The Woodchuck hard cider was the drink of the night. It really did taste like hard cider with a hint of apples and cinamon. The alcohol was barely present, yet it was such an interesting drink. I don’t know how that decision was made, but it was late. I was tired, hungry, and excited at the same time. Alcoholic hard cider? Why not?
We started things off with the fried pig ears. It seems like almost all gastropubs are doing it these days. The cartilagey, disgusting pig ear was cut up thin, fried to a crisp and glazed with a tangerine and fresno chili glaze. The once soft flesh now was a sweet and crispy mound of deliciousness. It was crispy, crunchy, and chewy all at the same time. The sweetness of the glaze and the heat from the fresno chilies was a perfect balance. Though some might get turned off by the pig ears part, eatings these were a joy. Just think of it as fried pig skin, which it is, and you will be just fine.
Every gastropub has to have a great burger. If the burger sucks, the whole menu fails in because of it. I was happy to have the Haven Burger perfectly cooked with the perfect ingredients. My favorite was the pickled red onions. It played the role of the crunch as well as the acidity of the burger. Biting into the fatty meat, the pickling of the onions helped cleanse the grease. It seems like arugula is a must on all gourmet burgers, and I can see why. The earthy tones and the somewhat neutral, yet bitter taste of the wild arugula helps counter the richness of the dish. The cheese was my favorite — blue cheese. It wasn’t just any blue cheese — this was Saint Agur blue cheese, from France — the fancy stuff. I mean, blue cheese, arugula, and pickled onions on a burger? Thats a recipe for success. the patty was thick and succulent, the bread was a perfect choice
Have you ever had a salad and was like “Snap, this is freaking bomb!”? No? Me neither. Who eats salads anyways? Well, my burger came with a salad and i was bomb! Probably one of my favorite salads to date, not that I have a lot of salads to compare it to. The radicchio and frisee were bitter which was a perfect vessel to soak up all the truffle vinnagerrete. The pop of the cherry tomatoes and the chevre made a good combination. The chevre had an awesomely smooth texture that gave the salad a nice silkiness. My favorite in this salad was the twice smoked bacon lardons and the poached cage free egg on top. Who doesn’t like eggs and bacon, especially when the bacons are twice smoked lardons? The fatty salty bacon mixed with the creaminess of the chevre and acidity of the vinnegarrete made a perfect balance in flavors. This is the best salad I had in a while. And it sure has been a while.
The duck confit poutine pomme frites — a lot of gastropubs are doing it, and it seems like a simple dish to make, but I never had one that was amazing. I am a guy who likes the simplicity of just thick french fries dipped in brown gravy, like the ones from The Hat. The duck gravy in this dish was nice, but it was too thick, and didn’t taste like much of anything. The duck confit was nicely cooked, but some pieces of the meat were left overcooked and dry. The pomme frites were nice and crunchy, and salted to a perfection. I thnk if the gravy was more savory, it would have been a home run.
I love a good mac and cheese. The gooey factor alone can leave me feenin’ for this stuff after a bad day. I sure was happy to have ordered the mac and cheese here. The black truffles alone were a nice touch. It gave such a depth of flavor unattainable without it. A perfect mix of gruyere, fontina, and parmesan, interlaced between each noodle had perfect consistency and flavor. The crust of panko on top wasn’t my favorite, but nothing with panko really is. This dish of mac and cheese was good, but I felt like something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I felt it needed some kind of spiciness or textural difference. At the end of the day, it was a pretty standard bowl, saved by the little truffles that it did have.
My time at Haven Gastropub was awesome. The atmosphere was relaxing and fun, and having a drink, eating good food was just what I needed. Things that stood out the most was their selection in craft beers. I’m no beer officionato, but their beer list was unique and diverse — any beer lover would enjoy it here. Opening in 2009, Haven in Orange received some great accolades — OC Weekly named it the best new restaurant in 2009. Still a pup, the restaurant expanded to Pasadena as well. Whether you are in the OC or in LA, chillin’ with a beer and good food is covered.