Dining Bliss: Haven

I had been hearing great things about Haven and had read several good write ups about it so when a Bloomspot¬†deal for a 6 course dinner for two at the chef’s table came through my email inbox, I figured it was something we couldn’t pass up. I forwarded it along to the boyfriend and he purchased it and immediately set up a reservation to celebrate our 6 month anniversary. I know this is a small milestone but we will find any excuse to celebrate with good food around Houston! ūüôā

We pulled up to complimentary valet service and upon walking into the restaurant, it felt upscale with a splash of neighborhood casual. While there were white linens on each of the tables, the wood beams and slatted wood walls, along with the large patio off the dining room set a comfortable dining mood.

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We were seated at a two-person bar-like area overlooking the kitchen, directly next to where all the dishes were coming out to be served. We could see everything going on from the chef who was in charge of seafood and sides, to the meat and poultry chef, to the plating area.

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We ordered some wine but were not given a menu because owner and Chef Randy Evans oversaw our entire meal while he simultaneously ran the orders coming in.¬†Within the first 10 minutes I was¬†mesmerized¬†by the organized chaos. The ticket machine was printing table after table of orders, Chef Randy was calling out each menu item and any special instructions, the chefs on the line were dodging each other as they prepared their responsibilities, and runners were busy buzzing back and forth picking up and delivering plates. Seeing all of this first hand gave me a whole new appreciation for the running of a restaurant. We even got to see some “hiccups” and how they were taken care of so smoothly.

Chef Randy Evans sparked the idea for Haven through his desire to highlight the great work of farmers, ranchers, boatmen and artisans in the Texas area. And let me tell you, this farm-to-table concept was very apparent in each of our dishes. Each time one of our courses came out, either Chef Randy or Chef Jean Philippe Gaston took the time to tell us about all of the ingredients, including where they came from. It was really awesome to learn about the many local Texas farmers, ranchers and fishers these guys use as well as how they try to minimize waste by using leftovers for other dishes.

Our meal began with an appetizer from Cove Cold Bar, a raw seafood bar located inside of Haven. The tuna was paired perfectly with the pickled mushrooms and had just enough kick from the dehydrated jalapenos.

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Chicken of the Sea: big eye tuna / pickled beech mushrooms/ jalapeno/ garlic/ radish/ brussel sprout chips

The second and third courses were soup and salad. I wish I had gotten a photo of the soup before it was poured into the bowl. The dish came out with a bed of diced onions and heirloom tomatoes topped w a dollop of lemon-olive oil ice cream. Tomato soup was poured  table-side from a kettle over the ice cream to create creamy tomato goodness!

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Heirloom Tomato Sundae: 1015 onions, lemon-olive oil ice cream, aged balsamic

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arugala, strawberry vinaigrette, candied pecans, pink peppercorn goat cheese and quail

While we were enjoying the first few courses of our dinner I was watching the dishes that were coming out of the kitchen and I noticed corn dogs! When I think of corn dogs I typically associate them with fair food or a kids menu item so I was very surprised to see it come across the line. It was served with a mini glass of what looked like lemonade so I just had to ask Chef Randy about it. I was right about the lemonade, but come to find out they were shrimp corn dogs! He put in an order of them for us to try because apparently it is one of their signature dishes. It was pretty tasty and after trying the lemonade I was half tempted to order a full glass of it!

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Shrimp Corn Dog: lemonade, tabasco mash remoulade

Next up were the two main courses: fish and meat. The queen snapper was dusted in horseradish so it had a thin layer of crispiness on the outside but inside it was tender and¬†flaky¬†— SO good! The wagyu beef was very flavorful and tender as well.

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Gulf Fish & Head-On Shrimp: horseradish dusted, quinoa ratatouille, purple hummus

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Akaushi Flat Iron Steak: leeks, wild mushrooms, sherry glace

At this point I was beginning to feel stuffed but I knew I had to save room for dessert, and I’m glad I did. We got to sample a little bit of everything which was perfect because lately I have been needing to satisfy my sweet tooth after every dinner.

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sorghum ‚Äď pecan ice cream // coconut tres leche bread pudding: dulce de leche sauce, meringue, toasted coconut // chocolate ice box pie: chocolate cookie crust, mocha cream, cocoa nibs, white chocolate shavings // cheesecake: housemade cream cheese cookie crumb crust, salted caramel

Everything about this meal was fresh, full of flavor and inventive without being too “out there”. I think there is something to be said about a restaurant that can offer traditional dishes with a twist. I would recommend Haven even to my friends who are not as adventurous with what they are willing to try. There is probably something on the menu for everyone.

After dinner, Chef Randy gave us a special tour of their garden. They grow a good amount of herbs and veggies on site which is something you don’t see a lot of around town. The variety of stuff they had growing in a limited space was quite impressive.

Chris and I can seriously not say enough nice things about Chef Randy Evans and Chef Jean Philippe Gaston. It is safe to say that they are the ones who really rounded out this dining experience for us and made it well worth every dollar spent. Despite being busy with a Saturday night dinner service they took the time to explain each dish, answer random questions and just have conversation with us. They are probably two of the nicest, most humble guys. It was an experience all in its own to get to pick their brains about the inner workings of this restaurant.

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So, if you haven’t had a chance to catch a meal at Haven, I HIGHLY¬†recommend¬†that you do!

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