“They closed for the Super Bowl.”
“They did what?”
“They closed for the Super Bowl.”
“But they’re a gastropub!”
The Haven Boys – Chef Greg Daniels, General Manager Wil Dee and financier Ace Patel – opened the first Haven Gastropub in Orange, California in September 2009, just in time to welcome a staggering crowd of 500,000+ starving attendees to the annual Orange International Street Fair. Steered by Daniel’s love of craft beer and his desire to elevate even the upper reaches of “pub grub” to new levels, Haven soon became a popular destination behind the Orange Curtain for beer enthusiasts and food apprecianados alike. In December 2011, they opened a second location, in Pasadena. To prove their dedication to celebrating the art of good beer and fine food, they locked their doors on February 5 – Super Bowl Sunday – so no one would ever confuse them with a sports bar.
Tucked right off mobbed and gridlocked Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena, Haven is all polished wood and laid-back-upscale ambiance. It’s sleek, it’s slick and – notably for something with the word “pub” in the title – it’s also sophisticated, with an open kitchen, fireplaces and cool urban grays. At a recent media dinner, diners walked past a brand-new glassed-in fermentation room, where the team hopes to start making at least five of their own brews, in-house. In the meantime, guests will have to make do with over fifty beers on tap, 100 in bottle, a varying selection of cask ales, and ultra-allocated gems like Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, which made an appearance as recently as February 20. Non-beer drinkers can choose from a safe and steady wine list (including eight keg-drawn wines), and a full menu of cocktails.
Standard British pub fare such as Shepherd’s Pie is joined by much higher-brow offerings like pheasant pot pie with seasonal vegetables, and a duo of quail. Familiar bar bites like French fries and mac ‘n’ cheese are transformed with the addition of truffles; Haven’s Buffalo wings are made from Jidori chickens; and the lamb burger and goose pastrami sandwich give bar food at any of the upscale eateries in town a run for their money. And if none of those choices feel “manly” enough to wash down with a pint, diners can invite eight to fourteen of their best mates to tear into a whole roasted suckling pig, with a choice of three sides (with at least one week’s advance notice).
There are a host of lighter dishes, as well, like the Hiramasa Crudo, which is worth the appetite-building drive from LA, and several vegan and vegan-optional items.
On the night of the media dinner, Pastry Chef Santanna Salas (previously with the Michael Mina Group), offered guests a red velvet beet cake; “Peanut Butter and Jelly” with blackberry sorbet, peanut brittle and thin sourdough crisps; and foie gras cheesecake with hibiscus gel and vanilla crumble. Regardless of where one might stand on the foie issue, they should be comforted that Haven boasts a commitment to sourcing sustainable and humanly raised meat and seafood whenever possible.
And if the staggering beer selection and impressive food don’t stand alone as reason enough to head to Haven, and diners find themselves disappointed in the lack of popping lights and flashing screens, take heart! Almost as American as football and apple pie, there’s an erotic superstore nearby, just a 4-minute walk down Colorado.