Thursday, April 1, 2010

Heaven at Haven Gastropub?

Haven Gastropub
190 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

It seems like a rite of passage for Orange county food blogs to review Haven Gastropub. So you can now add Eating My Way Through OC to the long list of blogs that have reviewed Haven. For those of you that do not know, a gastropub is a British term, meaning a bar that specializes in serving high quality food, so I guess Friday's does not qualify as a gastropub then, just kidding TGI's! No, I am not really kidding!
Anyways, the reviews have been so good for this place that I just had to find out what all the fuss was about. We headed up to Orange on a Saturday night at eight. The place was busy, but we got seated right away. The place did have a cool vibe, lets see how the food stacks up.

First up were the appetizers. Everyone always talks about the potato chips at Haven, so that was a no brainer for us to try. These potato chips are soaked in beer and herbs and served with a killer garlic aioli sauce. They are good chips, and it is hard to eat just one, but I like chips with more of a crunch to them. These kind of melted in your mouth right away, like rice paper. The sauce really made these chips good.

Our second appetizer was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I liked the taste of this, but would have rather of had ranch served with it, rather than the orange-habanero BBQ sauce that came with it. The drummettes were a very good size and were not greasy at all.

Above is Chris's Pulled Pork Sliders. Chris actually gave me one of these off of his plate, and they were pretty good. The menu said that they were served with chipotle aioli, but there was not a lot of it from what I could taste. The buns on these were soft, and tasted great. The pork was tender, but the flavor was un-memorable.

Adrienne, our budding vegetarian in the group chose the Harvest Pear Salad. This salad included bosc pears, pecorino cheese, mesclun, and the best raisins I have ever had, (probably because they were rum soaked). I am not too big of a fan of entree salads, but she really did seem to enjoy this salad, so we will take her word for it.

Next we have Katie's Haven Burger. This burger features pickled onions, roasted red bell peppers, arugula and St. Agur cheese. The burgers itself was good, but I thought it was plain tasting. I think I expected more
because I had heard that the cheese was real flavorful, almost over powering. I did not get that sensation. The pommes fries, which are just the European way of saying fries were okay. Adrienne really enjoyed them. I thought they were too plain tasting, but they did taste like they were fresh cut. Also, they serve homemade ketchup here. I thought that it tasted like tomato puree with nothing added. I like a sweeter ketchup.

My dish was the real star of the night for me. I ordered the Crisp Braised Pork Belly. The pork belly was served with fennel, mache, dijon mustard microgreens and apple vinaigrette. Also on the plate was a celery root puree. This resembled a very thin mashed potato, but was very mild in flavor. The pork belly itself was cooked perfectly, with a little bit of char on the outside and cooked just right on the inside. I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone that enjoys pork entrees. 

The last of our main dishes was the Mac n' Cheese. Black truffles, gruyere, fontina and parmesan cheeses combine to make this dish. This entree came out piping hot, so we had to let it sit for a little bit. None of us really liked the taste of this, it kind of had a mushroom taste to it, and was not the right texture. It was runny and the taste was not what we had expected.

Now on to dessert. Above is the Candied Bacon Ice Cream with a brownie underneath. Yes I typed that right, bacon ice cream! So if you know me at all, you know what I picked for dessert. The bacon ice cream was okay, I could only detect a hint of bacon flavor, and believe me I was trying to. The brownie tasted great and really was light.

Our next dessert is the Tarte Tatin. In other words this is a Gala apple tart with, are you ready? Maytag bleu cheese ice cream. After trying our first bite of this, all of us made the same face. It was a look of, hmm. I for one did not know what to make of this. The tart and apple were good, but the bleu cheese ice cream was an odd pairing with this. It did not repulse me, but made me uneasy, and question my taste buds. I probably would not get this again.

The last dessert here was the standout of all of them, the Banana Bread Pudding. Not sure what kind of ice cream was served with this, it looked like the bacon ice cream from earlier, but I am not sure it was the same. The banana pudding was really good and had a nice mellow banana flavor. Really good, even though I am not a fan of bread puddings generally. I would get this again. 

A word about the beers offered at Haven. I am by no stretch a beer connoisseur. I probably have the worst taste in beer out of anyone. I do not mind a Coors Light, a Pabst or even a Lucky Lager. Haven Gastropub has none of these. They have a very long list of beers that I have never really heard of. I did try a Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout, and a Telegraph White Ale. They both tasted good , but I would not have ordered these if Coors Light was on the menu. I liked my choices, but not at $6 a bottle. I am not that big of a fan. Haven might be for someone that is way more into beer than myself.

So how to sum up my experience at Haven Gastropub? Some items on the menu are good. Some items on the menu are just plain scary, (really, we need an ice cream sandwich made with tobacco ice cream?). But the menu is not too inviting to the customer. They state at the bottom of the menu that, "Changes or modifications (to the menu) politely declined". This seems pretty high and mighty to me. I like having choices, if I do not like fennel, I would like to have the option of not getting it.

A friend of mine that recently went to Haven thought, "They are trying to hard.". I think this is a fair assessment, or maybe we are not the type of people this place is going after. The service was really good, but I still did not feel like this was the place for me. Maybe it is for the rest of the bloggers that gave glowing reviews, but that is how I felt. 

So out of five Tower of London's (because of the British influence here), five being best to zero being worst, Haven Gastropub gets 2 Tower of London's.

For more information on Haven Gastropub, click here:

Haven Gastropub on Urbanspoon


  1. Great review babe! What do you have against fennel? What did it ever do to you? :) Love you!

  2. Yum, the pork belly sounds great! ^_^

    You really can't go wrong with fatty meat! Delish! O=9 What a coincidence that 99 Ranch was having a sale and I bought a bunch pork belly to slow roast and also to fry up. Mmmmm good.

  3. Kat, Ooh you got me hungry with that. Fry some up for me! I had never had pork belly before, but now I am a convert. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Ouch! But I agree with you, it's not everyone's cup of tea. I guess the thing I like about Haven is that it's fine dining type food without the fine dining type atmosphere. And we aren't at all fine dining type people, so it works for us. But this is what's great about food reviews and such, everyone has an opinion and everyone's opinion is right! :)

  5. Dan, I could not have said it better myself. You are right on as usual! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. ^oops! other comment went to my google acct so i deleted!


    pork belly sounds amazing!

    I love Haven, but I agree with ya on the burger. People told me it was the best burger in town, and when I finally had it, though it was incredibly juicy and cooked perfectly, I found it to be underseasoned.

    Great review!