Orange County isn’t exactly the mecca of great food, nor is it boasting a host of super trendy eateries worth going to time after time again. In terms of gastropubs there are only a few, and Haven is one of the few which stands out. I’ve been here several times before and the food had always been a hit and miss, but on a recent trip, my friend and I came to try their newly installed happy hour which runs between 3pm and 6pm Monday through Thursdays and features selections from their regular menu at discounted prices.
The happy hour menu features some favorites from their regular menu including one of my favorites, mac and cheese (pictured above left)! The portion is exactly the same as the one you’ll get at lunch or dinner, but during happy hour it will only set you back $6. This sinfully cheesy and totally delicious bubbly plate of yumminess is probably too fattening to have regularly, but once in a while I like to spoil myself and order a plate to share with a friend, it’s definitely not something you’ll want on your own because there are so many other things to sample and one portion of this will fill you up immensely.
Chile relleno ($6 on the happy hour menu) is another item worth trying and is a variation of what a traditional chile relleno (pictured right) encompasses. Haven’s version isn’t stuffed with only cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried, but instead is stuffed with chorizo, rice, pepper jack cheese, and roasted. A pecan crema is drizzled over the top and around the plate and is served with a sprinkling of their roasted corn salad. While I found it interesting in taste I wasn’t so sure I liked the pecan crema all that much, it really didn’t do much for me in terms of enhancing the flavors any.
Another dish we ordered was the grilled octopus cabernet pasta (pictured below left), not from the happy hour menu, but can be found on the blackboard against the back wall was $16. I was impressed by the presentation of this dish and its overall execution. Grilled octopus were served whole and cooked to perfection! They weren’t chewy or tough in any way whatsoever and the cabernet pasta was also exquisitely al dente with subtle hints of cabernet throughout. I especially liked the diced tomatoes and olives tossed in alongside with the latter presenting a significantly saltier difference to the freshness of the tomatoes. My friend and I were in unison when we say we absolutely loved this dish and would come back especially for it in the future!
Being a pub of sorts, on top of the good fare, there are also many beers to choose from and you can take your pick, from drafts to bottled, there is one to suit every palate — you can even pair a different beer to accompany each dish if you so choose. For me, I stuck with Guinness Stout on tap because, well, I’ve always been a Guinness gal and I like my beers dark and strong. I did however ask for a sample of several beers — ask if you’re interested, they’re really good about it — just out of curiosity but neither of them really piqued my interest to order a goblet’s worth.
We were also enticed by a house-made ‘twinkies’ dessert which sounded interesting, but alas, the $8 two twinkie plate failed to impress. I don’t eat twinkies to begin with due to its unhealthy factor, but I’d have to say these in comparison were drier and weren’t as tasty as the real twinkies although I’m sure they were a hell of a lot healthier. My twinkie didn’t even have cream filling and our server took it back to the kitchen and later was kind enough to take it off our bill.
Service here is good, perhaps a little too conscientious when it comes to clearing your table of dirty dishes, but I didn’t mind. In my book, over-zealousness trumps nonchalence anyday!
**Happy Hour prices at present is limited to food only**
Haven Gastropub, 190 S Glassell Street, Orange, CA 92866. Tel: 714-221-0680