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You know that culinary wasteland known as Pasadena? It’s finally getting better! It used to be that Lucky Baldwins was where you’d go for draft beer and a greasy bite to eat. Now there are several places within the vicinity that boasts of better food, a different beer selection, and non-sticky tables.

The Pasadena location of this brewery and restaurant is right across the street from Buca di Beppo. It had been years since I walked on that part of the block, so I don’t remember what used to be in that spot before Haven moved in.

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Like most modern gastropubs, Haven offers flights of beer. You can choose from an extensive list of draft beer, or you can leave it up to the bartender’s choice. The beer list skews to toward the IPA side of things, but there were three or four Belgian-style ales and some weird things that were quite tasty.

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To go with my beer, I ordered the fried sardines, which I were great. Whole, fried sardines topped with a sweet and tangy bell pepper and onion relish goes surprisingly well with a light and aromatic beer.

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I also ordered a mesclun greens salad topped with a poached egg. You know how I love poached egg with everything and this salad is no exception. The dressing was decent and the leave were dressed well, but once the plate was set down, Will started complaining about the truffle oil’s strength. Too much truffle oil for this salad, perhaps. Since I have an inability to smell truffle oil, I’ll defer to his judgement on that.

Despite it’s modern menu, there aren’t that many vegan options available. I think we ordered all of them as well as a questionably vegan one which I won’t mention. The olives were nice and briny and came with its own waiter to explain each type. Now that’s service for you. The house-made chips were as good as house-made chips go, but ultimately skippable if you can eat other things on the menu.

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During my next visit (not pictures, sorry) I had the seasonal flatbread which featured arugula pesto, ramps, and hedgehog mushrooms. This was a must-get if you like bitter greens, garlicky ramps, and hedgehog mushrooms. The bread part of the flat bread was more cracker-like than I expected, but with that caveat in mind, it was a good way of using seasonable vegetables.

I wouldn’t call Haven a must-visit place since it’s fairly average as far as recent gastropubs go, but it’s great to see Pasadena finally getting some restaurants and bars that I’d actually want to visit.

Haven Gastropub
42 S. De Lacey Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
T: 626.768.9555

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