Haven’s Holy Trinity: brewery, craveable cuisine, and groovy gastropub

Haven Gastropub +Brewery may be new to Pasadena, but the second location of this Orange, CA establishment is hardly the new kid on the block. Balancing artfully executed fare with carefully curated craft beer, wine and cocktail selections, Haven exists somewhere between a high-quality, local-centric restaurant and relaxed gastropub. If that wasn’t enough, they will soon brew their own beers right inside the Pasadena premises, due to start serving in late February.

The brewery

David Larsen, former sous chef at the original Orange location, has taken the reins as Haven’s brewmaster. Originally a homebrewer, Larsen impressed Haven Collective partners Greg Daniels, Wil Dee and Ace Patel with his years of experience and homebrewed beers, becoming their top choice to head up the new small-batch operations. With local brewers at TAPS, the Bruery, and Cismontane, Larsen “cut his teeth” on different types of brewing systems within the supportive Southern California craft beer community. David Larsen’s ultimate mission, he says, is to “make awesome beer, and make people happy at the end of the day.”

Beverage Director and co-owner Wil Dee has contributed his diverse knowledge to setting up the best possible brewing environment and libation selection for Haven. Over 50 beers and wines will be on tap, including four cask beers and four rotating in-house brews. Haven plans to brew a few “traditional” styles such as Imperial Stout, Bavarian-style Hefeweisen, and IPA while also introducing limited batches of seasonal, more experimental beers (rumors of a possible bacon-infused beer in the works – stay tuned).

The Pasadena location will have a constantly updated live tap list on their website as well as on-site. Between the extensive, ever-changing taps and 100+ bottle beer list, even the most discerning craft beer enthusiasts should be satisfied.

For non-beer drinkers

Another draw to Haven is the craft cocktail list and wine selection, a crowd pleaser for the (gasp) non-beer drinkers in any social group. The Walnut Manhattan, concocted with Buffalo Trace Straight Bourbon, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur and Punt e Mes Vermouth retains its smooth bourbon integrity while imparting a subtle walnut finish. Regardless of preference in poison, Haven caters to imbibers of all tastes with equal care.

Food and beer pairings

Dee points to the broad range of possible flavors in beer for its’ aptness in pairings with many different types of dishes. The Pork Rillettes appetizer, a “confiture de cochon” (pork shoulder cooked in its’ own fat) served with house mustard and artisan bread, pairs well with an IPA such as Point the Way IPA from Golden Road. The hoppy, floral and slightly bitter finish of an IPA cuts through the rich, smooth texture of the Rillette with a refreshing contrast.

The kitchen

Haven’s kitchen manned by Executive Chef Greg Daniels, includes a bank of constantly-running sous-vide baths & two Combi ovens. Sous-vide is a French technique used to cook meats and eggs at an exact temperature and hold it there until a dish is requested. The desired piece is then removed and prepped fresh to order. Combi ovens use both convection heat and steam to produce precise and even cooking temperature and humidity. The quasi-magical technology allows great flexibility and creativity, chef Daniels says they’re still “playing with it, exploring new possibilities.”

The food

Deceptively simple starters such as the Haven Olive plate, with three types of house-marinated olives, disappear at alarming rates (particularly when paired with a hoppy craft beer). For both greens fanatics and ruffage-haters alike, the Radicchio and Frisee salad is a game-changer – chevre, cherry tomatoes, twice-smoked bacon lardons, truffle vinaigrette (the salad-dressing equivalent of crack) and crowned with a beautiful, velvety sous-vide poached egg.

The Hiramasa Crudo of ruby red grapefruit, Fresno chili, and pickled shallot with micro peppercress & pink salt has wonderfully crisp and fresh flavors and speaks more to the gourmet offerings of Haven than the gastropub side, but that’s a good thing. Pair with a gin-based cocktail on a hot day and congratulate yourself on such fine decision-making.

Pommes Frites, the best friend of a quality craft brewskie, are house-cut, crispy, twice-fried goodness, paired with house-made ketchup that actually tastes like tomatoes – fresh and potentially highly addictive.

Add red wine braised beef cheek and port salut cheese on top of the frites, and feast on the Beef Cheek Poutine – a delicious seasonal offering that tastes more like beef than most beef you’ve eaten. Flavorful, rich, salty and creamy – it’s like the dream team of elevated bar food.

The desserts created by pastry chef Santanna Salas, formerly of the Mina Group, look beautiful and provide a playful and delicious summation to the meal. The Peanut Butter and Jelly highlights an incredibly fresh-tasting, smooth blackberry sorbet with peanut brittle, accented with a crisp sourdough textural contrast. The Foie Gras Cheesecake’s richness subtly transitions into a hint of savory as it melts in the mouth, accented with the slightly sweet hibiscus gel and a vanilla crumble.

Haven creates food and beer united by a dedication to meticulous craft, local/seasonal ingredients, care and integrity. When asked about what dishes have a personal root, Executive Chef Greg Daniels refers to the Haven Beer Float – Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale with vanilla ice cream and warm cookies. He shares, “when we were growing up, [my mom] made this amazing strawberry jam, and would serve it to us over ice cream … when I tasted [the float], I had this ‘Ratatouille’ moment where it took me back to that.”

Moving pictures!

Watch host Jace Milstead go in depth and beyond, with co-owner Wil Dee and brewmaster David Larsen.

Read more:

Haven Gastropub: Crisp Braised Pork Belly