Saturday, July 31st, 2010
This place has great buzz. Over the years I have perused Haven’s menu online, salivating over a pork dish here, a salad there, and many of the small plates. So, it seemed the perfect place for PG and I to dine during her visit from LA. We both like to sample several dishes, tapas style.
However, upon examining the online menu earlier today, I realized the seasonal changes had eliminated my favorite accompaniments of sweet potato and fig (Ok, that’s not entirely true, figs and pecans garnish the bacon wrapped trout). Gone was the salad with goat cheese and frissee. Still, I had hope. Its convenient location and my relentless curiosity sealed our fate. We threw on our party dresses and headed to Haven.
The space mirrors the design of almost every modern Atlanta restaurant that’s opened in the last five or six years. Warm lighting, exposed brick, and dark wood were not unique but undeniably inviting. Reminded me a bit of The Shed at Glenwood. Haven is surely a definitive trendsetter in Brookhaven.
There is something to be said for consistency. Chef Stephen Herman has run the kitchen since the restaurant’s opening in 2003, drawing a loyal neighborhood following that has embraced his fresh, earthy approach, with a subtle Southern accent.
It was Friday night. Prime time, but there was one table available, near the semi-open kitchen, upon our unreserved arrival. The dining room was busy, the staff in absolute control. In fact, the service was completely on point.
PG ordered a glass of 14 Hands Merlot and I got an old favorite, the Dynamite Cab, $9 each. The wine list isn’t terribly creative, including recognizable names like Trefethen, Steele, and La Crema. Idiot proof.
We were all ready to be disappointed. Not finding a single item on the small plates list that intrigued us, PG and I opted for entrees. After much questioning of our ever-patient server, she finally chose the halibut. Being the duck junkie that I am, I was leaning towards ordering the bird. I asked if the skin was crispy and our server said the magic words “the fat is rendered, then the skin is pan-seared and crisped”. Bingo!
A basket of bread with sweet unsalted butter, good wine, great conversation. Dining with PG is always fun…two pisces food snobs!
Our entrees came out and they were lovely. Her thick chunk of halibut was served in a tomato water with local squash and a bean salad. Very light and summery. There was only a mere hint of tomato in the broth. A drizzle of pesto gave the mild fish a necessary dash of flavor.
My Sonoma duck breast was cooked medium and sliced thinly, fanned out around its accompanying braised red cabbage and brandied cherries. Almost German-style, the red cabbage imparted a hint of sweetness that works so well with duck. And the brandied cherries (brandied cherries!) made this one of my favorite duck dishes ever, almost as good as the now-defunct Globe’s Moroccan spiced duck with dried fruits and spicy yogurt sauce. There was literally no fat beneath the crispy skin of my duck at Haven….no small feat.
The dessert list didn’t thrill us with cheesecake, brownie, creme brulee and such. We chose the peach cobbler with blueberry ice cream. A huge individually baked dish was plenty to share, not too sweet, its crispy crust holding up well beneath the delicious ice cream. Good stuff.
Having watched him expedite orders all evening, we chatted with chef Herman after our meal, very nice guy. (For the record they had no idea who I was, the meal wasn’t comp’d, and no, I’m not being paid for this post!)
The verdict? I was thoroughly impressed.
1441 Dresden Drive 404-969-0700