Once, in a fit of creative madness while writing for this august publication, I wrote a review of the Viking Truck as a filk of the Völuspá, the Icelandic heroic saga. Our beleaguered editorial staff kindly let it through, and now when I read it, I feel like an adult looking back at a goofy candid picture from 9th grade chorus… what the hell were you thinking, Dave?
This was all I could think of as I combed through the Yelp reviews of Haven Gastropub, the Orange Circle's most beloved and, um, be-hated restaurant.
First, it seems like writing a review of Haven is a requirement of becoming a Yelp Elite, in the guidelines right next to "must give up anonymity and put picture of face up" and "must act like the Royal Family of Food Writing".
Second, Yelp attracts some really bizarre reviews. Not necessarily bad, just strange. They run the gamut from people who are obviously bored writing reviews to people who are clearly living in an alternate universe, unsullied by human reality.
So welcome, fair readers, to this week's all-Haven Gastropub edition of the Red Pencil Diaries.
KC O.'s 3-star review of Haven Gastropub:
This review was "stupendicular." At least, I think it was, because I don't really know what stupendicular means. I'm going to assume that it's a portmanteau word combining "stupid" and "perpendicular", because otherwise it doesn't make sense.
Also, I now know far too much about KC O.'s teenage years. Acne is the bane of many a teenage boy, and many of us used Accutane to get a grip on it. I can't say, though, that I know too many people who countered its testosterone-antagonistic effects with Dianabol, a fast-acting anabolic steroid.
KC O., besides being a big brawny guy, is also worried about the deleterious effect of punctuation on his health. Shockingly, though, once I sprinkled some commas and semicolons through his prose, he actually made a couple of good points–St. Agur cheese (the blue cheese used on the Haven burger) is a love-it-or-hate-it food, and the ketchup is definitely not going to please lovers of Heinz.
Kiki N.'s 4-star review of Haven Gastropub:
Very late at night
Or on the weekends
when I sit down to write
I feel less banal than usual
especially when I have a deadline coming
and I start to play with the visual look and feel
of my Yelp restaurant reviews and make up words like WOW-wa
and soon it starts to look like the poet e.e. cummings dined at Haven
strange capitalization spacing stream-of-consciousness writing
and all, or like Jacques Prévert talking about tin counters
and sardines in Parisian shop windows and things,
but at least I kept to the idea of a review
and wrote about the icky mussels that
gave me such brothy bitterness
and made me write a long
review that looks like a
Monica D.'s 5-star review of Haven Gastropub:
This review was so loquacious that in order to grab a screen capture of it, I had to put my monitor on its highest resolution and put the browser in full-screen mode.
It was Review of the Day on September 29, 2009, which must have just added fuel to the egotistical fire that is Monica D.'s review. ("I HAVE GOOD F*CKING TASTE, BIZNATCHES.") At least she told herself to shut the f*ck up later in the review… we all were thinking it.
Still, weird creepy self-backpatting notwithstanding, this is actually a decent review. It discusses dishes, wonders at some of the culinary invention (fried lemon slices?), talks intelligently–sort of–about the service, and has a defined beginning and end. As Yelp goes, this one's an A.
Just a note, though: ETA means Estimated Time of Arrival. I think you meant "also" or possibly "N.B."
Thu N.'s 4-star review of Haven Gastropub:
Well, look at it this way: at least there's some mention of individual dishes rather than just paragraphs of spittle-flecked invective about the ketchup or the ever-changing beer selection.
I liked the cutting comment about the frosted-tip douchebags who infest a certain class of restaurants in Orange County, though I know plenty of people younger than 29 who can appreciate the beer and food at Haven.
That said, though, did you actually read the menu? There's no roasted spaghetti on the menu; there's roasted spaghetti squash, which is not at all the same way, despite the fact that the chef tosses it in marinara sauce, like spaghetti. Squash is full of water; even roasted squash is full of water. You need to go read the South Beach Diet, passé though it may be; that's where the idea came from.
And dinging the restaurant for the fire code? It sounds like they tried to be cool about it within the strictures imposed on them by OFD. Orange is infested with annoying little narcs with too much time on their hands who would absolutely count heads, call the fire department, and get the restaurant's occupancy permit pulled. Don't be mean-spirited; there's literally nothing they could have done beyond what they did.
Ningyu C.'s 1-star review of Haven Gastropub:
This may be the most obtuse review of this restaurant in existence. Ningyu C. went once (pro tip: real restaurant critics visit at least twice and usually three times before writing), and went during the fustercluck that is the Orange International Street Fair.
"I don't understand why the International Food Festival has to disturb the original flow of the restaurant." Let me try to explain it, though it should be obvious to anyone who lives in OC.
If you've never been, imagine forty thousand people jammed into four blocks of downtown Orange, streets parked up for at least half a mile in any direction, and music so loud it should be an advertisement for the Big Words iPad app.
Now imagine you're a restaurant facing the festival. There are 40,000 people who want to sit down and eat something more substantial than sausages and funnel cakes, and fewer than a hundred seats in the restaurant.
Would you accept coupons and deals? No, you wouldn't. I bet the Haven in Pasadena doesn't take coupons during the Rose Parade, either.
Nathalie V.'s 2-star review (and chef Greg Daniels' reply) of Haven Gastropub:
Stop and read this one out loud. Surely you'd forgotten the verbal hiccup known as "like"–it had been dead and buried for, like, twenty years. If the 80s are back, I need to dig out my acid-wash jeans and peg them over my high-top Reebok Pumps.
But let's stop mocking you for, like, talking like you're, like, Mollie Ringwald's understudy in the Breakfast Club, and talk about the magical place you've described for us through your awful, awful review, a place of your own invention called Nathalie V. Land.
In Nathalie V. Land, punctuation marks (especially commas) are fattening; people who don't want to stay healthy use the word "so" instead so they can express fourteen thoughts in a single sentence so they don't have to go to the gym to work off the semicolon they just used.
In Nathalie V. Land, beer flows through pipes fitted by the municipal government, thus ensuring no one ever has to deal with a tapped-out keg. You choose the beers when you build your restaurant and the city does the rest. Restaurants that run out of beers are clearly hiding something.
In Nathalie V. Land, every burger comes with mayonnaise, ketchup, iceberg lettuce, pink slices of tomato, and onion, regardless of what the description directly underneath the name of the dish may say. Nobody reads fine print anyway.
In Nathalie V. Land, there are magical geysers which spout forth soda that is naturally sweet; soda there is not water with artificial coloring, a sweetening agent, and carbonation. Only savages add "nectar" to their sodas. The loyal subjects of Nathalie V. Land drink their soda straight from the ground with high-fructose corn syrup, the way Nature intended it.
Your review was so ghastly it inspired even Greg Daniels to, like, reply to it. LIKELIKELIKELIKELIKELIKELIKELIKEugh.