It’s been more than a year since I last set foot in the fair city of Houston and it shows. The old favorites are still there, Fung’s, Kim Son, Feast, but skimming through chowhound and the local blogs reveals a multitude of new restaurants. One of the relatively recent additions is Haven, a restaurant that markets itself as a seasonal kitchen with a focus on Texas regional cuisine. While taste is the most important part of any dining experience, it never hurts to have a local flavor with local ingredients. Once everyone was in town for the graduation, our party of five met at Haven to see just what chef Randy Evans had to offer.
With a menu that changes monthly, I quickly realized that May was a good month to visit, particularly concerning the “enticements” section. While the crispy pig trotters were intriguing, I was more interested in the country fried chicken livers with Andouille cream gravy and buttermilk biscuits. Far too often I’ve found fried chicken livers to be the victim of the country buffet, overcooked and left to die an ignoble death in a steamer tray. Hopefully Haven could do the humble chicken liver justice.
I was expecting a smaller number of chicken livers for an appetizer portion but I suppose there’s no harm in six well fried livers.
After dishing up a smaller portion for myself, I finally got a look at what we had ordered.
Accompanying the livers was a pair of flaky, dense biscuits that had been doused in thick Andouille cream gravy. Even with an overly salty taste to the gravy, there was enough of a lingering spice from the andouille to make this liver, biscuit, and gravy combination work.
One nice thing about being in Texas is there’s very little threat of beans in your chili.
Even though I prefer shreds of braised meat to ground meat in my chili, this was just an excellent bowl of red and this cornbread stick was a tender albeit slightly sweet accompaniment.
With the addition of pepper jack and minced onions, this chili was well dressed with just enough of a lingering chile pepper heat to keep things interesting. The only way things could have been improved was if it was cold outside.
For the entrée, I decided to try something a little different, the akaushi steak.
Apparently the only source of akaushi beef in the country is in Texas, so I suppose this steak fits the Texas regional cuisine idea to a t. For this night, the steak was a flat iron steak and it looked spectacular.
Topped with a sherry jus and green onions and served on a bed of roasted new potatoes, mushrooms, country ham, and onions, this was steak had all the makings of a spectacular entree.
As for the rest of the plate’s components, they were like the Pips to Gladys Knight, the perfect backup vocals. You knew they were there, but only enough to make the steak shine a little brighter.
If there was one serious disappointment to the meal, it was the jalapeno sausage dressing that I ordered as a side to my steak.
Clumpy and doughy are rarely used to describe a food positively and this was no exception.
Sure there was a nice piece or two of jalapeno sausage in this tower of dough, but for the most part it was a wasted addition.
For the most part of, our group left Haven feeling pretty content. The food was quite satisfying but there were some issues with seasoning. I’ve read that Haven is all or nothing at all when it comes to salt and it seems like we picked a night for the former. From the salt lick rolls to my run in with the Andouille cream gravy, it seems like everyone in our party had a bone to pick over the kitchen’s use of salt. I wasn’t expecting to have an ethereal experience at Haven and I didn’t receive one, what I did have was a well prepared meal with a few hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t hesitate to eat at Haven again, I just hope that next time they find a nice middle ground with the salt.
Haven Address & Information