On The Line: Greg Daniels Of The Haven Collective, Part One

The last time a Forker conducted an On the Line with Greg Daniels it was 2010, and Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange was blowing up. Three years later, he's not only associated with another safe Haven, but an asylum and local market. We were tasked with addressing the entire collective, yet we also wanted to see how (or if) his views about certain questions have changed since his previous interview. See for yourself.

You're making breakfast. What are you having?
I've gotten better about eating a breakfast that no longer consists of a Red Bull and a cigarette. If I'm eating at home, I'll usually go for sunny-side up eggs and sourdough toast.

When is Portola coming to Provisions?
I'm going with Portola's official statement that they're opening “Late Summer”–we're really excited to have them in here, and we know it will be worth the wait.


What's your favorite item at Taco Asylum?
I really like the rabbit taco that we have on the menu. Our rabbit comes from Hidden Haven Farms, a family-run farm in San Diego County. We've developed a great relationship with the farmer, who picks up our spent grain from Haven Brewing and uses it to feed her pigs.

Let's set the record straight: Do you use humanely raised meats?
Yes. All of our meats are humanely and naturally raised. In the end, you still have to slaughter the animal to eat it, so there's always going to be someone who has a problem with that, and that's fine. I don't have a problem with vegetarians, but if you're going to start a debate, let's talk about the extreme pillaging of the rainforests for production of “meat-free” soy products. One day, we'll have destroyed the Amazon. And then, perhaps, the topic will change.

Favorite meal growing up:
My grandmother worked at the Chris' & Pitt's in Whittier for more than 20 years as the head waitress. It was my first real introduction to the restaurant industry. It's where I learned about the special friendships, camaraderie and different way of life (that those in the restaurant industry lead). The blue cheese dressing still sets the standard in my book. Even today, you can get a steak for under $20– a Porterhouse steak for $22.

How does Haven Pasadena differ from Old Towne Orange?
First, Haven Gastropub + Brewery in Pasadena is home to Haven Brewing. We have a more extensive tap list, and the restaurant is larger in space. I've appointed a different Chef de Cuisine in each location, so you can find slightly different specials, but you'll always be able to find our core items, such as the Haven burger and mac 'n cheese.

Where was your most recent meal? What did you have?
In-N-Out. Cheeseburger, medium-rare, chopped chilis, animal style; fries, well done. I ate the fries with banana ketchup that one of my managers brought back from St. Lucia.

Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?).
We have one regular at Haven Gastropub who will occasionally bring his own food for us to cook for him. He brings in his catch from fishing that day, and we prepare a meal out of it. It's not that odd of a request, but how many people ask their favorite restaurant to cook something they caught? We usually reap the benefits as well by having a little something to snack on.

You mentioned Thomas Keller's per se in your last interview. Have you dined at any of his other establishments?

I have. I've dined at Bouchon in Beverly Hills and The French Laundry in Yountville. When I get a chance to go up to Napa, breakfast usually consists of a stop at Bouchon Bakery. The monkey bread is the best. I'm not obsessed with Thomas Keller, I just don't like being disappointed. And with him, I know that I won't be.

Sum up Provisions to someone not familiar with it.
Provisions has been referred to as an “adult candy store” on more than one occasion. It's a haven for the craft beer enthusiast, with more than 600 beers in the bottle and 30 on tap. There's more than just beer here– we feature upwards of 60 120 thoughtful cheeses, a great menu of sandwiches and toasts, and countless artisan products, many of which are from here in OC. The concept, as a whole, is meant to be a community market. A place where locals can drop in, grab some provisions for their home, and maybe have a beer with their friend.

We spotted some new menu items over at Provisions. Tell us more about them.
The biggest focus at Provisions has been on sandwiches. One of my current favorites is the Coppa Cabana, our take on a Cubano. We've added a couple of great vegetarian options– one called Meat is Murder, with smooth garlic hummus, pickles, bell peppers, spicy harissa and preserved lemon aioli.

Strangest thing you've ever eaten:
I've eaten a lot of strange things. I'm of the belief that you should at least try everything once. Many of these things that are considered “strange” become less so, once you take the time to appreciate them in a new way.

Is there a dish that you'd like to learn how to make?
I can't think of a specific dish, but I really haven't explored cooking Indian food that much. I love the layered use of spices.

Your earliest food memory:
Tacos. My family made tacos every Friday night. My dad, brother and I would compete to see who could eat the most tacos. My dad actually had a very particular way of garnishing his tacos– he was precise, and I remember that striking a chord with me. Even then, it influenced me on the importance of food looking as good as it tastes.

Do you have a Happy Hour at taco asylum?
We have a daily Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, twice a day from 2 – 6 p.m. and 8 – 11 p.m., with $2 off all beers and $1 off all tacos.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Prep ahead and be organized. It takes the stress out of cooking.

Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
I really love this spot in Huntington Beach called Da Hawaiian Kitchen. There are so many places like this in Orange County, but these guys do it right. Lots of flavor; lots of pride in the food they're serving. And it's close to home.

I also love one of the newest additions to Old Towne Orange, LinX. I'm always looking for something new in Orange County. I'm really looking forward to The Blind Pig opening in RSM.

We follow you on our beer app; so what are you drinking these days?
I'm most obsessed with IPAs and Sours, but every once in a while, I'm surprised by something with a little more malt. I'm not out to try as many beers as possible, but when the opportunity presents itself, I would rather drink something that I've never had before, than go back to an old favorite.

To learn more about The Haven Collective, go to www.havencollective.com.

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