Even on a random Tuesday night in Old Towne Orange, Haven Gastropub’s hopping. Where was this place, so conveniently open until 2 a.m. daily, when I lived in Orange for more than a decade? No matter—it’s here now, and packed, from patio to bar, where sports fans whoop, a happy noise that doesn’t keep diners elsewhere from conducting lively conversations.
I stopped in for a preview of chef-partner Greg Daniels’ new fall menu, which is chock full of seasonal ingredients and the sometimes-surprising twists that have become the gastropub’s signature.
For instance, a lamb belly dish ($22) that’s a collaboration between Daniels and new chef de cuisine Craig Brady is cooked sou-vide with vadouvan, a French-influenced curry seasoning. The meat is succulent under a thin fat cap that’s aerated to a fabulous crisp by thorough searing. The lamb is served on a bed of lentilles de Puy mixed with spiced rutabaga in perfect dice. How often to you see rutabaga—one of my favorite vegetables—on a menu? The lentils were perfectly cooked; for some reason, I’m always served chalky, undercooked lentils in restaurants. Chef Daniels noted there are other green lentils from France, but Haven uses real-deal de Puy, which he finds have the best texture. Thin lines of rich blood-red, house-made harissa—the pub’s chile de árbol take on the Moroccan hot sauce—encircle the arrangement, allowing diners to customize individual bites with as much, or as little, heat as they likeHaven Gastropub, 190 S. Glassell St., Orange, 714-221-0680