Ease past the mini wall waterfall to enter an accomplished harmony in which we call… Haven. There, behind doors of splendorous reward, awaits none other than rising star chef… Randy Evans.
After speaking with executive chef Evans during the Star Chefs gala at the Four Seasons, he graciously welcomed AVH into his gratifying garden of greatness. An engaging detail indeed is Evans having devoutly established Haven as “a seasonal kitchen.” From growing his own greens to the reputable sources providing meat, seafood, and dairy… his chefness is unwavering. This rising star chef’s forte is not unlike my Granny’s southern cookin’ kinda feel slash semi sorda sophisticate.
With his beard appearing silkenly submissive, as one would expect, self control was at the helm. Control this intense ache to ask the fire burning question… How, oh how, is its performance at sheik level status… 24/7? This miracle is a stylist’s dream… a shampoo commercial’s birthday candle blowout wish. Sweat? No problem. Working out back in the garden? Mehh, no big deal… Evans hora screams wholesome, and once again, his maintenance of beard & locks loveliness seeps thoroughly to the core of stylish standards. Fact. So many secrets we can only ponder in thought, for a glorious sight is he…
Chef Evans approached the bar with words echoing from the highest of all high mountain tops… “Would you like a tasting?” Um, that answer quickly surpasses double triple quadruple infinity… yes. We quickly discussed the wants and want nots to appear during this adventurous event.
Appearing suddenly on the scene is… sous chef Kevin Naderi. Let us not waste a moment before mentioning this chef’s effortless possession of… ultimate sous chef suave, which, by the way, immediately reached conquer level status. After a brief exit, this sous chef quickly returned, having clutched inside his hand… a paper.
This was no ordinary piece of paper, oh no, this paper contained Haven’s plan of action for sealing the deal of solid deliverance… for he held… the tasting menu. He then revealed, with a super simple statement, that he knows exactly what I need.
Joining AVH on this excursion of dining delight is the mentor of all champion mentors, John DeMers. An established journalist & accomplished author, he also adds radio host to his impressive resume. His “Delicious Mischief” show, airing weekly in Austin & Houston, highlights food, ahh… chefs, as well as wine, in the very best of any and all best ways. Heart.
John DeMers first piece of advice for rookie writer awareness:
“Don’t take yourself so seriously & STOP taking so long to post!”
Ten thousand & one apologies, your highness… apple of my eye… corn in my bread… butter on my muffin… banana in my split…. Yes, that’s right… the veggie burger in my low carb bread… the… well, you get the idea.
After meeting John at the Star Chefs gala, powers of prediction coupled with the hint of an inner twitch, concluded this writer and I are destined to be… dear friends.
Triple Food Writer Sniffle.
Amuse Bouche began with pan oysters… These gulf oysters are topped with Atkinson Farm spinach, along with mushrooms, gruyere & crispy leeks. Next to taste is the always exciting… traditional deviled egg with smoked paprika, homemade pickled relish & micro greens.
Another Haven favorite is the shrimp corn dog with remoulade & green onion. Every part of the first course brought on butterfly stomach fluttering… in a good way.
Um, let’s just go ahead and give this sous chef a Double Description Wow. Preparation details given next are reminiscent of my granola 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Cappell, who casually showed our class the infamous factory cow death video.
But wait… this moment was actually monumental in moving on. While listening, evidence was present that sous chef Naderi was witnessing a semi serendipitous veggie miracle… Final full recovery of childhood trauma. AKA… getting over it.
Details of the Japanese slaughter process quickly commenced… The guys at Louisiana Foods have been trying to get this particular method of, um, causing fish demise off the ground for well over a year. In comparison to the norm, this is indeed a more humane way of “doing it.”
AVH GROSS OUT WARNING WAIVER:
BEFORE READING FURTHER, NOW IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE TO EXIT WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF POTENTIAL FUTURE FREAKY FISH THOUGHTS. IF YOU PRETEND FISH JUST MIRACULOUSLY APPEAR ON YOUR PLATE , MOVE ON. HEAD ON OUT TO THE GYM, GRAB YOUR CHIHUAHUA AND TAKE A WALK. BRAIN ANGUISH IS HEADED YOUR WAY UPON FURTHER READAGE OF THIS POST. PLEASE HEED THIS FISH PREP FOR ENTRÉE WARNING.
DOUBLE WAIVER WARNING WOW.
Step 1: Catch the fish. As soon as the fish hit the boat, the always exciting fishermen do a “tapping of the brain,” as well as the always alluring, cough, “tap of the tail.”
Step 2: As their souls enter the pearly gates of fish heaven, the soulless fish bodies are placed into a mixture of one half sea water, with the other half containing fresh water.
Step 3: The remains are iced down bringing temperatures to approximately 32 degrees. This bleeds out the fish respectfully, instead of the always frowned upon… asphyxiation, thus assuring the flesh will remain exceptionally firm & sweet.
Haven does a crudo preparation, so the fish are sliced relatively thin. This delightful dish is served with shaved brussel sprouts, shallots, spiced peanuts, jalapeno & radish. On top, sugar cane agrodolce can be found with a little bit of Texas olive oil.
To accompany this dish, our sommelier slash manager, Bryan Davis, served Dan Morgan’s Metallico. This chardonnay, out of Monterey, achieves a flavor of nice tropical tones. With no oak or butter at all, this champion sommelier declares all whom drink this wine will taste ultimate razor sharp acidity.
Holy detailed moly, holding on to my chair as if not to spontaneously combust, time had arrived for ultimate description glory. Seriously, no fear can be found in this factor. The only feelings consuming my body were hanging on to every word formed & brought to completion by this savvy sous chef.
The Vietnamese style soft shell crab creation begins with a serious cleaning. The whole crab is still alive upon kitchen arrival. Once cut in half, gulp, the eyes and gills are taken out, as well as the head. The crab is then stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat, covered in a spicy peanut crust, and lightly fried. Located directly beneath are seasonal vegetables sautéed with nuac nom, which is a homemade fish sauce. Pickled jalapenos and carrots are placed on top.
The use of soft peppers, lime juice, and jalapenos are included to play off the fattiness of this dish. The fatness of the crab, in addition to it being fried, is lessoned as humans dip & drizzle a bit here & there.
This salad of baby greens, pickled beets & blue heron feta cheese is fluffy fresh, but has not even a remote glimmer of hope in delivering epic excitement such as that of the local strawberry salad which arrived… next.
One fact simply stated from each dish delivered is the deep regard Randy Evans has for the standard of ingredient freshness. The strawberries almost hurt as they hit my mouth watering palate. Oh, it is relatively painful to bite into a fruit which is peaking perfectly. This local strawberry salad with arugula, candied pecans, and blue heron goat cheese crostini brings forth a festival of fruit indulgence.
A gasp uncontrollably occurred as sous chef Naderi delivered blackjack grouper from Matagorda Bay. Served above a beautiful bundle of creamed cabbage, breathtaking brown butler oysters with a smidgeon of lemon juice, patiently awaits by its side.
Shrimp & Grits glory is simply a given. Just stop it right now! Crescenza cheese grits arrive all the way from Waco, Texas, care of Homestead Grist Mill, which also make polenta, grits, and steel cut oats.
After Haven started buying from HGM, many others climbed on board, including Bryan Caswell & Chris Shepherd. This dish is prepared with a shrimp bisque sauce, a little bit of crimean mushrooms, and bacon. My gift arrived without… bacon.
Chef Evans delivered four fantastic desserts to our table… sorghum pecan ice cream, arroz con leche crème brulee, chocolate icebox pie, and a phenomenal lip licking feat in dessert distribution… coconut tres leche bread pudding.
Preparation begins with day old house bread being soaked in three different milks…coconut, evaporated, and condensed. Using a little bit of custard, the bread is then placed in a dolce de leche, finally finishing with tasty toasted meringue. This is hands down delectable.
The final surprise for the evening was a chilly Jack Daniels coke float with Mexican Coca-Cola & Jack Daniels ice cream. Evans explained, after cutting the tops off of all the bottles having been saved, they then sand them down, and use the glasses for… ultimate coke float delivery.
While taking a break from cutting lamb for the Raising the Barre Ballet benefit being held at Catalan, executive chef Evans stopped by for a moment. He and sous chef Kevin Naderi are two Houston powerhouses to definitely write home about. The different methods used in food preparation is part of what Haven represents. A new way of running a restaurant that works… With this level of talent and drive in the kitchen, Haven’s reputation comes through with a sting.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch