Devouring Houston: Exploring Houston One Bite at a time

Houston has so many incredible food establishments...from sumptuously designed restaurants to fun storefronts selling gourmet cookies. From Mexican Food Carts to the Best BBQ in the World. And...I want to expore it one bite at a time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Haven calls itself "a seasonal kitchen."  I love that.  I love fresh ingredients.  I love changing menus with the changing seasons. Not only are they seasonal, but they buy from local farmers and vendors.  Of course, that gives Haven a huge Texas flare.  But, instead of thinking Barbeque or Tex-Mex, Haven is extremely sophisiticated with classical dishes and unique pairings.  They are so true to their local roots, in fact, that they play Texas Country Music (think George Jones and Robert Earl Keen) AND they also serve Lone Star Beer and Shiner Bock (matched with an excellent wine list). But, please do not think of this establishment as unsophisticated or redneck.  It was anything but.  The decor and atmosphere embraced clean lines without frills or kitschiness.

I had heard so many excellent reviews of Haven, that I was worried my expectations might be too high.  They weren't.  My dining partner and I started with both the Free Range Deviled Eggs and Foie Gras.  Both were good.  Not amazing, but consistent and satisfying.  I expected a little more pop from the eggs and the foie gras was a little stringy.  But, the dishes were pleasing.  One of my eggs looked like it had gotten in a fight with the kitchen while the shell was being peeled.  But, the presentation did not affect the taste. 

Next, I had the soup of the day, which was carrot with coriander.  Delish!  It was a creamy soup (though not cream based).  It was topped with a creme fraiche.  It had a mild, non-sweet carrot flavor. The soup exploded in my mouth with a touch of heat (cayenne?).  Enough heat to wake up my palate.   Mmmmm!

Next up, the Tomato "Sundae" with lemon olive ice cream, aged balsamic and tomato sprinkles.  I mean, anything called a Sundae is good in my book.  I missed the tomato sprinkles (where were they?), but the dish did have finally sliced onions on top.  The dish was another pleasing combination.  The ice cream had a crisp, refreshing quality that, once melted a tad, paired nicely with the balsamic.  This is a refreshing dish for all of our hot, humid months in Houston.

The Pork Chop, a large portion, was served with figs and a savory blue cheese pecan tart.  The combination was enjoyable.  The salty with the sweet.  The chop was cooked perfectly.  It was extremely tender, juicy, and had great flavor.

Of course, being in a "Texas" restaurant we had to sample the Goat Buttermilk Pecan Pie.  The pie was a marriage of  buttermilk pie and pecan pie.  It definitely works (and I polished it off), but if you are looking for the traditional corn syrup filling pecan pie, this is not it.  The pie was accompanied by Raileen Rum Ice Cream which had a tasty mild rum flavor, but the ice cream was not super creamy.  The Pecan Brittle served on the side was pretty much To. Die. For.

The prices at Haven are extremely reasonable, especially for the high quality restaurant that it is.  Even the wine list is moderately priced.  The wine list is diverse, eclectic, and about 30% lower in price than similar restaurants.  We tried the Girard Cab, the Laetitia Pinot, a sauterne, a prosecco, and I finished up with the "End of the Road" after dinner drink.  A drink served in a martini glass made with peppermint, dry vermouth, absinthe, egg white, prosecco.  The words "peppermint" and "prosecco" roped me in as they are favorite flavors of mine.  An unusual, interesting combination and very pretty to look at, but not one that I will sample again.  Just not my preference.

The service was excellent as well.  It is obvious that the staff at Haven is well trained and extremely knowledgeable.  I will definitely go back to Haven.

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