The goods: The west end of Lincoln Road has always been more a local’s haunt than the tourist-heavy main strip. Sleek and glossy Haven, a futuristic gastro-lounge helmed by a former Zuma chef, now joins its ranks. If you’re into food theater, grab a seat at the “chef table,” a four-seat bar flanking the open kitchen, and watch chef Todd Erickson have his way with liquid nitrogen and blow torches.
Ambience: Nestled between Altamare and Kim’s Chinese, Haven is outfitted with wrap-around flat screens showcasing rotating images of urban landscapes, pop icons and pastoral scenes. Expensive lighting, a DJ booth and low-slung leather benches evoke a club feel, but there’s no dance floor, and music is kept at a conversation-friendly level.
The grub: Eclectic global eats on small plates. Prices are moderate: $7-$11 per plate, though you’ll need at least three per person for a meal. Cocktails are pricy with most specialty drinks hitting the $17 mark. The detailed menu is divided into cold plates (salads, crudo, sushi rolls), grilled skewers and half a dozen sliders. Burger buns are a custom-made brioche-challah hybrid, and ingredients like pink peppercorns, scotch bonnet honey and ouzo mustard dot the menu.
Start things off with a snappy watermelon and feta salad dressed in cachaca vinaigrette, then move on to a “crackle-pop” spicy tuna roll lightly grilled on the outside and outfitted with Rice Krispies on the inside. Tater tots get a grown-up topping of Maytag blue cheese and balsamic ketchup, jerk chicken skewers are flanked by grilled pineapple, and lamb and duck sliders are outfitted with foie gras butter, quail eggs and apple-fennel slaw. Desserts include instant ice cream, made by combining a flavor base with liquid nitrogen, in flavors like guava-cheese, Nutella and date. There’s also a devil’s food cake with cayenne ganache for chocolate cake purists.
The verdict: Space-age cocktails and haute comfort food in a stylish Lincoln Road lounge.