Top shelf, high end Gulf Coast/Southern in Houston.
The last in our series of reviews for great places just in case you decide to travel outside of Southern California, just to give you taste of what else is out there.
How does one describe a Gulf Coast/Southern Restaurant with white tablecloth, high end service but with proper tasting Gulf Coast/Southern cuisine?
I have no idea either, but that’s what Haven is.
Haven is the brainchild of Chef Randy Evans, a veteran of another Houston institution, Brennan’s. Now, Brennan’s is old world and stuffy. Stuffy as all get out. That’s why people still love it to this day. Haven is anything but.
Underneath Haven’s High End DNA, there’s a streak of Underbelly in there; a sense of fun. In fact, Chris Sheppard says that Randy Evans (in that brochure I told you about) was the first guy he met in Houston. He’s a best friend and a confidant, and that he remains an inspiration. High praise coming from another high powered Chef.
Now, going into a High End place with a certain regal reverence isn’t always a bad thing. I mean, you need places to get all gussied up and hit the town with a sense of style. Yet, I never feel like I’m walking on eggshells when I come to Haven, but I do feel lucky as hell to be there wherever night I’m there. So, right off the top, High End ambitions, Medium end comfort. Count that as the highest of praise.
[When] Chef Evans opened Haven in 2009 saying it was to be a showplace to highlight the great work of farmers, ranchers, boatmen and artisans throughout the state. On its website and on its printed materials, Haven acknowledges nearly 20 small farms, artisan cheese makers, ranches and other small Texas producers of the meats vegetables, herbs, fish and other ingredient needs.
To do something like this in California way back when would have been a bit on the cutting edge, but to do it way back in 2009 in Texas? Texas? That took a little bit of guts. And hopefully, fingers crossed, this kind of high end locally sourced dining is what we’re all going to be doing wherever we are in this great country of ours.
This is an unqualified recommendation for Haven. Whenever I’m in town, this, along with Underbelly, along with Hugo’s, along with (yes) Goode Company are the stations of the Houston Restaurant cross for me. I will not miss an occasion to have a bit of food at any of these places.
And now, for what’s good…
The Hill Country Wild Boar Chili, on the other hand, was way memorable. Loved it. Get past the whole “Boar” thing. A Boar is just a bigger, meaner, tougher Pig, but a Pig nonetheless…and that pig makes for a delicious chili.
I hate to say that something as simple sounding as the Torn Greens was fantastic as well. Yeah, it’s just a salad, until you taste that black pepper Dijon Dressing. Oh Lord, that dressing good. I’m a sucker for Dijon dressing in any form.
The Cajun Fried Pork Chop was fantastic. It came with sugar cane glazed sweet potato brabants, and jalapeño gastrique. What are brabants? What’s a gastrique? You know? I didn’t care then, and I’m not sure I care now. All I know is that it was fantastic
Also, sooooo many of the sides are available. The Pecan-smoked Bacon Spaetzele was great. The Fried Green Tomato Croutons, and the Smoked Beef Fried Rice are also something to jump on when you get a chance.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: There’s nothing really to say here, other than Haven sits in the middle of a what can only be described as a fortress of other Restaurants. Twin Peaks Sports bar over there, Lupe Tortilla, Taco Cabana, Cafe Japon, all around.
Basically, if you’re coming from Kirby, it’s behind Elevation Burger. If you’re coming in from the Southwest Freeway, after you pass Academy Sports on your right, look for Twin Peaks Sports Bar, look for Lomitas. Lomitas turns into Algerian and will lead you right to Haven.
Haven is at the center of this mess, and doesn’t stand out visually from these other places. So it can be a touch hard to find.
…but make the effort.
PARKING: Pretty damn good all things considered. Haven has got a large lot, that has plenty of spaces no matter what time of day. The only catch is, that i’s Valet powered.
Look, just bite the bullet and shell out the bucks for the Valet. It’s way easier that trying to park in this busy part of town.
2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX 77098
Monday-Thursday: 11 am – 10 pm
Friday: 11 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 5 pm – 11 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 2 pm