Drunk After Work: Haven Gastropub

The Place: Haven Gastropub, 190 S. Glassell, Orange; (714) 221-0680; www.havengastropub.com

The Hours: Monday to Thursday, 3-6 p.m.; nightly 11 p.m.-1 a.m.

The Deal: No specials on drinks, but a list of snacks can be had for $6-$8, with large portions.

The Scene: Large windows, light, airy atmosphere, warm brown woods and a
bunch of beer geeks; this is what Haven's happy hour looks like. While
you can sit at a table if you like, sit at the bar and talk to the
bartenders about the beers you're drinking.

The Sauce: Haven is a beer drinker's… haven. (Sorry.) While you can
get wine, and the full bar was stocked with a lot of care, the whole
point of a pub is to drink beer. Haven specializes in craft beers from
hither and yon. While you can get Guinness here, plunge forward and try
something new. If you can't make up your mind, you can have small (3-4
oz.) samples, four to a flight, for a lower price. As of this writing,
Craftsman's Triple White Sage barleywine is still on tap; while all the
beers are good, this one stood head and shoulders above the others.

The Food: Rather than snacks, the food on special during happy hour
could easily pass for a meal, a late lunch or early dinner. The Haven
burger, with pickled onions, roasted peppers, arugula and St. Agur
cheese, has spawned imitators all over the county; get it here for $8.
Also excellent is the truffled mac 'n cheese, a portion that will fill
you up but not ring alarm bells chez le cardiologue. Avoid the chile
relleno, however; while the flavors all work, the filling runs out and
burns and the thin strands of pepper get caught in your teeth just like
the shrimp antennae they resemble.

The Verdict: “Let's go out for a beer” takes on a special meaning at
Haven, and the addition of cheaper eats makes it worth sliding the meal
schedule a bit to avoid the dinner-hour crowds. The late-night happy
hour will come into its own when the Bruery Provisions store opens, at
which point a real pub crawl will be possible in Old Town Orange.

The Grade: A-.

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