Archive for the ‘gastropub’ Category

Gutsy Gastropub

October 20, 2009
Belly up!

Belly up!

Consider the gastropub. Never mind that the word itself is as leaden as a basket of greasy fried mozzarella sticks. Coined in the early nineties in England, it combines the word gastronomy and the word pub implying that you’ll be getting more than pickled eggs with your pint. And since bars with big screens are usually known more for their nachos and wings than their organic produce ands house-crafted ketchup, this is a welcome concept. Chances are, if you follow food trends in OC, you’ve already enjoyed a malty 20 oz. Old Speckled Hen and an order of prime short rib pasties at the comely Crowbar and Kitchen in Corona Del Mar, the first boîte in the county to call itself a gastropub.

Like CDM, Old Orange is one of OC’s few pedestrian-friendly hamlets that thrive on foot traffic and a loyal, insular crowd of locals. Haven Gastropub, open for just over a month is jammed  at nine on a Friday with pub-crawlers,  university hipsters and  fastidious Old Orange preservation-cultists. There’s an impression of cozy sophistication: handsome dark wood, stone hearth, candlabra chandeliers and booths that look as if someone made a trip to the Laguna Design Center to pick out upholstery.

Haven mavens.

Haven mavens.

Chef Greg Daniels has done everything from managing Heat Ultra Lounge (bottle service anyone?) to cooking under the Gallic tutelage of Pascal Olhats: a fitting combination of the barfly cred and culinary chops needed to make this work. Like Crowbar, he relies on local or organic produce, sustainable seafood and meat from animals who were humanely-raised.

Haven olives are a lovely trifecta of fruits spiked with citrus zests, cured and loaded with fresh herbs. The fritto misto, vegetables and seafood fried in tempura-like beer batter is decievingly heavy handed, better the herb-flecked fries with cinnamon-spiked house-crafted ketchup if you’re in the mood for crunch.

The hamburger, a combination of beef and pork with the heft of a closed fist, drips with juices, tangy pickled red onion roasted red pepper and the molten funk of a double-cream blue  cheese. An artisanal bun with the absorption of a Sham Wow is futile in keeping the savory drippings from my face, hands and Nanette Lepore blouse-ouch!

Gastronomy aside, any establishment with the word ‘pub’ in the title is only worth the brew it serves. Haven has over fifty hand-crafted small-batch beers from buoyant-as-champagne hefeweizens to ale the color of black strap molasses.

Gastro-grub.

Gastro-grub.

Wine and beer pairings listed on the menu lure with the confidence of a motivational speaker and the authority of a life coach. When the command, “ENJOY WITH: Layer Cake Shiraz” appears right after the description of the burger, really, who am I to argue?

Old Towne Orange  has struggled with its quaint reputation for decades. For years it seemed better suited to Red Hat Society tea room outings than a hang-out for a diverse cross-section of humanity. Now a handful of new restaurants have breathed life into its Anytown, USA historic plaza. Haven is the latest.

Haven Gastropub 190 Glassell Street Orange, CA 92866 714 221 0680 www. havengastropub.com