As many of you may be aware, Haven closed immediately after the New Year for a re-working of its menu and dining experience. Oakland Local got the scoop from those in the know as to what diners can anticipate when the restaurant reopens on Friday, January 23.

ON THE BRIEF CLOSURE
“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” – Paul Theroux

In the dead of winter, human instinct drives us to hunker down in the warmth of a familiar cave and wait it out. When the New Year finally comes, we inevitably awaken from the gloom of our natural surroundings, armed with resolutions and excited for new beginnings.

It is in this spirit that the cast at Haven dropped the curtain, ever so briefly, on business as usual shortly after ringing in the New Year. After a respite of a little less than three weeks, intended to allow the staff to take a brief hiatus and recover from the hustle of the holidays, the curtain will rise again this Friday, to a menu focused on family-style dining. The short break also allowed Chef Charlie Parker to fine-tune new flavor profiles and tweak his new menu. The result is a meal that is geared around a “Chef’s Choice” prix fixe style of dining.

ON THE NEW FORMAT

What, exactly, can diners expect from Haven’s re-tuned dining experience?

The answer is a return to its roots, revisiting and reinventing an option from its original menu: “Let Us Cook for You,” in which diners would put themselves in the hands of the Chef.

The new menu will change daily, and there will be a parade of family-style courses designed to surprise and delight the palate. Imagine a really sophisticated surprise dinner party hosted by your grandmother. Food rooted in hearth and home, but elevated – enhanced by the availability of new techniques allowing for a refinement of preparation, but which will maintain a respectful reverence for the inherent flavors of the foods being served.

There will also be an emphasis on the best of our collective past, as Haven will be featuring in-house pickling, curing and fermenting, as well as whole-animal butchery. The offerings on Haven’s menu will change daily. The restaurant’s goal is to underscore the bounty of nature by hearkening back to the traditional family table.

As Haven prepares to reopen on Friday, Chef Parker is looking back and looking forward at the same time: returning to Haven’s original format of family style service while allowing the chef to flex his creativity so that he may unveil it for the guests at his “family” table.

Parker is particularly excited about the opening salvo planned for the meal, an appetizer he describes as: “A platter with a variety of in-house breads and crackers, different spreads – like rillettes and terrines, whipped lardo – smoked salmon, lots of pickles and crudité,  plus some small, hot bites. I’ve never seen a prix fixe meal that begins with a big platter of items where diners get to mix and match to create their own bites,” he says. ” It’s collaborative. It’s like a big dinner party.”

According to Parker, Haven, as it evolved, perhaps felt it had strayed a bit from its roots. The team there sees this as an opportunity to reconnect with its original purpose, to share that most intimate of times, the collected gathering of a great family meal.

HAVEN OAKLAND
44 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone:(510) 663-4440

Reservations available at opentable.com

About The Author

Angela F. Lazear is an Oakland native and the author of EAST BAY FOOD SCENE: Essays on the Ritual of Dining (www.eastbayfoodscene.com). Launched in 2007, East Bay Food Scene was established to pay homage to Oakland’s fascinating history, while chronicling the city’s rebirth through a vibrant, ever-changing landscape of food offerings. Many of Angela’s fondest childhood memories involve accompanying her grandparents to Oakland’s finest restaurants and sitting with them at the “grownup” table. Twice a month her grandparents would take her out for shrimp cocktail and filet of sole, at what was then The Sea Wolf, on Jack London Square. It was on these occasions that Angela discovered that collective dining brought with it the opportunity to make lasting memories. To this day, a perfect “old school” shrimp cocktail will bring to mind one of her grandfather’s fascinating and colorful stories of Prohibition, bootleggers, and run-ins with “wise-guys” seeking to get alcohol to the masses. These colorful stories were a kind of live theater. When Oakland began its dining renaissance, Angela saw an opportunity to honor both her family’s legacy and the city of her birth. Contrasting Oakland’s past to its present, her essays focus on how sharing great food experiences with loved ones can enrich one’s life immeasurably. Food is more than sustenance, it serves as a landmark for recalled experiences with loved ones and family. It is this connection between food and family that drives Angela to experience and chronicle the current generation of chefs and restaurateurs, as they re-invent cuisine and elevate it to an art form. Her mission is to share with her readers the stories of an Oakland that was, and to connect them to the Oakland that is becoming, that its inhabitants might remain in touch with the City’s past, as they inevitably meet with its promising future. The ritual of dining is an experience so entrenched in our collective personal history that we run the risk of missing the point if we fail to savor the experience as much as we do the myriad of flavors. Each morsel has the ability, at a later date, to recall moments from our past as vividly to the senses as if actually captured on film. A self-titled “Philosophoodie,” she would encourage her readers to savor every bite as it comes, take the time to engage with one another over every meal, and “make a lasting memory of your own.” Twitter: @foodaprecianado; Instagram: Foodapprecianado Facebook: EastBayFoodScene

One Response

  1. Brenda Ton

    Really awesome post. Thanks for the updates on Haven. I am loving what I hear so far and am even more excited to go back there.

    Reply

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