By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
The sliders are sloppy to eat, and the toppings tend to blur into a blend of dully defined flavors. For instance, a thin, tender "lamburger" comes lavished with "lavender-coriander honey, apple-fennel slaw, and ouzo mustard." The taste is predominantly that of lamb and sweet, mayonnaise-y slaw. Not bad, mind you — just not as good as it sounds. The vegetarian slider is a delicious mush of black beans, barley, and tomato-chili marmalade. A beef slider boasts more traditional and cleanly delineated garnishes: Nueske's bacon, guacamole, tomato, and Vermont cheddar. Also on the bill are little patties culled from crab, blackened fish, and duck.
A skewer of grilled, skinned chicken thighs, dry-rubbed overnight in jerk spices, comes bookended with red pepper squares and served atop thin wheels of cucumber and pineapple slices marinated in spiced rice vinegar — all drizzled with Scotch bonnet-infused honey. Alas, the poultry proved undercooked; an apology preceded a replacement order served with another apology. The staff here is unerringly polite and coolly professional in its own rock 'n' roll way.
The chicken, when cooked, is delectable, and so is a kebab of juicy Swedish meatballs interspersed with softly roasted cremini mushrooms. Meatballs are culled from beef, pork, and brioche bread crumbs and sauced with veal demi-glace and white truffle oil. Organic microcilantro sprouts accompany the meatballs, as do dabs of sweet/sour lingonberry gastrique.
"Nitro ice cream," for two, changes flavors on a seminightly basis. Erickson makes the custard bases in the morning and then blasts them per order into ice cream via liquid nitrogen. The result: maple-bacon, the flavor du jour, presented in a surprisingly ordinary ice-cream parfait glass but with a less-common cloud of fog swirling around it. The texture is extra-creamy and dense, the maple flavor mellow but enlivened with strips of chewy, sugar-cinnamon-and-nutmeg-dusted bacon. Additional toppings change nightly; Captain Crunch is a popular one.
Our main quibble: Teeny tables used for dining here are almost as low as a typical coffee table. After a certain amount of time spent leaning forward and back for each bite of food and sip of cocktail, it can feel as though you're reaching your limit on an ab machine at the gym.
While we finish off the ice cream, kinetic paisley-like patterns spread like cartoon shadows on the walls. The images change at a leisurely, never dizzying, pace. Still, Haven is not for everyone. I wouldn't take my dad or cranky, old acquaintances here. But for people seeking scintillating snacks and drinks in a stimulating environment, Haven should be heaven. Or maybe the Himalayas.