Haven's dining room has turned into an arboretum

Haven’s dining room has turned into an arboretum

The story: Haven in Oakland is part of Daniel Patterson’s restaurant group, opened three years ago in Jack London Square offering seasonal California cuisine. Recently the restaurant had some chef shuffles, with the opening chef (Kim Alter) moving on and Patterson bringing back Charlie Parker, who opened Patterson’s former Plum restaurant and most recently worked in Los Angeles. The restaurant got a slight redo, and the format is a prix fixe menu.

Why I went: The restaurant invited my friend Christina, who writes the informative East Bay Dish, to be its guest so she can check out the new format. She graciously asked if I wanted to tag along, and we went for dinner on a weeknight. Dinner and drinks were comped, so thanks to Haven for the meal.haven oakland02

Dinner starts with a "breaking bread" platter that included chicken liver mousse, pate champagne and dijon mustard, ash goat cheese crudite, Monterey sardine with crushed avocado, wild nettle hummus, and chicken crackling. Bread included flatbread with chili and salt, sesame flax country loaf, and furikake rice cracker.

Dinner starts with a “breaking bread” platter that included chicken liver mousse, pate champagne and dijon mustard, ash goat cheese crudite, Monterey sardine with crushed avocado, wild nettle hummus, and chicken crackling. Bread included flatbread with chili and salt, sesame flax country loaf, and furikake rice cracker.

The vibe: I ate at Haven when it first opened, and the warm wood styling and natural light remains. Several tables were removed from the dining room to give it a more intimate feel, and a lot of greenery (from hanging plants to large bouquets) have been added, giving the place an almost arboretum feel.

The bar has a strong cocktail program. I enjoyed my "vodka" martini

The bar has a strong cocktail program. I enjoyed my “vodka” martini.

Glazed Brussels sprouts with smoked ricotta

Glazed Brussels sprouts with smoked ricotta

Squid with Fresno pepper tapenade

Squid with Fresno pepper tapenade

The menu: The prix fixe menu is $45 for three courses from Sunday to Thursday, and $60 on Friday and Saturday nights for four courses. It always start with a fantastic “breaking bread” platter that includes a lot of home-made pates and pickled vegetables. You have a choice of a meat or vegetable entree, which comes with about three sides that are shared around the table. Then you end with a dessert course. On this night, I had the leg of lamb with pea pesto and Christina tried the vegetable entree of asparagus with slow egg and grits.

Executive Chef Charlie Parker in the open kitchen

Executive Chef Charlie Parker in the open kitchen

My entree of leg of lamb with pea pesto, spring onion, and preserved lemon. The lamb was cooked perfect, and all the ingredients said spring.

My entree of leg of lamb with pea pesto, spring onion, and preserved lemon. The lamb was cooked perfectly, and all the ingredients said spring.

Vegetarian entree that Christina tried was asparagus with slow egg, grits, shiitake mushrooms and creme fraiche. Even though she loved the grits, I think she was eyeing my lamb.

Vegetarian entree that Christina tried was asparagus with slow egg, grits, shiitake mushrooms and creme fraiche. Even though she loved the grits, I think she was eyeing my lamb.

The booze: The large side bar continues to bustle with diners, and Haven offers an extensive cocktail program. I tried the “vodka” martini, and the quote marks on the vodka plays on the fact that some juniper blossoms are added to give it a hint of gin flavoring.

My favorite dish: The “breaking bread” platter to start the meal was the most fun, and even though not every element on the platter worked, it was an adventure trying all the various bits. The furikake rice cracker was a nice lavosh-type cracker, and I really enjoyed the chicken liver mousse. The platter also came with bowls of glazed brussel sprouts and squid with a spicy Fresno pepper tapenade (the squid was cooked perfectly tender).

Side of grilled beets with snap peas and shoots, almonds

Side of grilled beets with snap peas and shoots, almonds

Side of seared artichoke with pee wee potato and celery yogurt

Side of seared artichoke with pee wee potato and celery yogurt

Final side of arugula salad with aged jack, cucumber, and pickled red onion

Final side of arugula salad with aged jack, cucumber, and pickled red onion

The last bite: Chef Parker’s menu (which changes daily) is one of the more creative prix fixe dinners I’ve seen around. Servers are very knowledgeable about the dishes and ingredients, but service can sometimes be neglectful (our sides never came with our entrees so we ate them after our entrees like some mishmash of food). The dishes are strong, however, and Parker’s execution of the food is spot on for a fine-dining establishment even though he’s going more for sophisticated family dinner. For the price, it’s worth going to his “home” for dinner.

Dessert of chevre panna cotta served in a mason jar with strawberry jam, lavender shortbread crumbs and rhubarb sorbet. The sorbet was lovely but the panna cotta was more like a pot de creme than panna cotta.

Dessert of chevre panna cotta served in a mason jar with strawberry jam, lavender shortbread crumbs and rhubarb sorbet. The sorbet was lovely but the panna cotta was more like a pot de creme than panna cotta.

The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps

2.5snaps

 

 

The deets: Haven, 44 Webster St., Oakland (at Jack London Square). PH: 510.663.4440. Open daily for dinner, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.havenoakland.com

Haven on Urbanspoon

3 Responses to A Review of the Prix Fixe Dinner at Haven in Oakland

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    I know Haven has gone through so may changes over years. Nice to see it is still going strong, and has such an able chef in Charlie Parker. That lamb dish looks superb. No wonder your friend was eyeballing it. I would have been, too!

  2. ...tm... says:

    My favorite iteration of Plum was under Charlie Parker. I’ll have to stop by Haven sometime soon.

    • Ben Ben says:

      TM, nice eating with you last night. Thanks for visiting my blog. You should definitely check out Chef Parker’s food. It’s the same quality.