Accentuating Uniqueness

Haven Gastropub elevates authenticity in craft beer, whisky and pub fare

 

Written by Susan Irby

 

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Merriam-Webster defines gastropub as “a pub bar, or tavern that offers meals of high quality. Expand the definition to include high-quality craft beer and you’ve got Haven Gastropub. Now in its ninth year, it was one of the first such establishments in Orange County to feature craft beer exclusively. “Dedication to craft is our focus,” states Haven’s Beverage Director/Partner Wil Dee, a craft beer expert. Adds Executive Chef/Partner Greg Daniels, “We wanted to create a place that we would want to hang out, and where everything that goes out to the table—beer, spirits, and food—has been sourced with care, and we’re proud to serve to our guests.” The “beer board,” which features 14 draught beers, with selections changing frequently, complements the craft beer “book,” organized by style. But libations don’t stop there: Haven Gastropub offers meticulously sourced spirits, including a broad range of whiskey, gin, and more. From the kitchen, chef Daniels shares, “We’ve always taken classics and elevated them while also presenting new creative dishes.” From the pork belly to the local yellowfin and the black truffle béchamel Mac ‘n Cheese, a testament to Daniels’ approach is the number-one selling menu item, the Haven Burger—a custom grind that is grilled and topped with pickled red onion, roasted bell pepper, wild arugula, Saint Agur cheese and garlic aioli. Yet, the burger that won my heart is the Haven Breakfast Burger. Created for the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, it features 25 percent mushroom chorizo with maple coffee bacon, sharp cheddar and a sunny side-up egg. Other menu highlights include the Jidori Chicken Wings with mango-Carolina reaper sauce, Grass-fed Beef Poutine, which is a melt-in-your-mouth haven of Stemple Creek Ranch beef, gravy, cheddar cheese curds, and pommes frites. For dessert, enjoy the House-Made Doughnuts and Molten Chocolate Tart. 

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Haven Gastropub 190 South Glassell Street, Old Towne Orange, CA  92866 ~ 714 221 0680 | HavenGastropub.com

Otherworldly Escape

A beautifully designed resort along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula leaves a harmonious and breathtaking impression

 

Written by Amy Adams

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A trip to lovely and warm Cabo San Lucas always feels like a fortunate contradiction. It feels far from home, but is only a breezy two-hour flight away from John Wayne Airport. The 30-minute commute from the airport to the newly built Grand Velas Los Cabos resort, meanwhile, is scenic: a mesmerizing sprawl of rambling oceanside resorts amid rolling desert hills. 

Greeting me at my destination—the fifth property for Velas Resorts—is what feels like my own personal entourage, but it is the site before me that’s most captivating: a dramatic, three-story open-air entrance and beautifully architected corridor framing a panoramic crystalline view directly to the ocean. Everything about this space feels lavish and luxurious. From here, I’m directed to a quaint sitting area overlooking the grounds with views beyond, while a concierge takes my information. With a frothy, fruity beverage in-hand, I embrace this moment of relaxation, take in the oasis not far below, and surrender to what will be a few days of decadent indulgences.

On the way to my suite, I observe a surprising juxtaposition of contemporary design and traditional Mexican architecture. Walkways mostly light in color are earthy, unimposing and possess an adobe-like feel in contrast to a prominent and sleek gray staircase adorned with large, brilliant glass accents. Every space here exudes something sensational, including my accommodations, the focal point of which is none other than the ocean blue. (One sees the same striking scenario from every suite at the resort.) Punctuating the expansive, nearly 1,200-square-foot space is a private terrace. The feel is absolutely grand. The interior emphasizes and echoes the illustrious exterior aesthetic: bed linens and tapestries are soft and luxurious, with dark wood walls and glossy cement floors appearing more modern—special touches all complemented by nature just outside the door. 

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With such a beautiful arrangement, I contemplate whether to leave my suite, ultimately conjuring the motivation for a dip in one of the resort’s oceanfront infinity pools, which is as replete as my suite. As such, my daily routine begins with a leisure lounge poolside, under the warm sun, sipping a crafty beverage and noshing on ceviche, followed by a pampering trip to the spa before dinner. The Organic Blue Agave Massage is my go-to remedy for its ultra-relaxing and healing benefits, but the highlight of each spa experience is an extravagant plunge in the hydrotherapy pools. 

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In addition to the resort’s impressive design and architecture, it’s of no surprise that there are also five unique and gourmet restaurants on the property: Cocina de Autor, helmed by two-star Michelin chef Sidney Schutte, whose artful cuisine is inspired by his Dutch heritage and travels through Asia; Piaf for French fare; Italian and Mediterranean resto Lucca; Frida, which serves Mexican food; and Velas 10, specializing in seafood and steak. Amat Café; Cabrilla, a fun ceviche bar; and Azul, just steps from the sand and great for breakfast, are casual dining options. Specialty libations are also abundant, with premium tequila varieties plentiful. But what I imbibe most is the vast array of wines curated by noted sommelier Don Pedro Poncelis Brambila; the selections are a pleasant surprise, with one to complement each of my meals. 

It’s never easy to say good-bye to such a carefree trip, but I do so indulged and rejuvenated from an experience that may well become a tradition of my own.

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Photos courtesy of Grand Velas/Victor Elias

Two for the Show

Keys on Main hits the right note in Costa Mesa

 

Written by Susan Irby

 

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Dating back as early as the 1890s and brought to prominence in 1933 at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, dueling piano bars have long been making their mark. Two grand pianos, three or more expert pianists on a stage in a club with theater-like seating engaging audiences submitting songs, often on bar napkins with lofty tips… this is the dueling piano bar. This winter, Costa Mesa welcomes George Hasenohrl and his dueling piano bar, Keys on Main, which originally opened in Salt Lake City over 10 years ago. Of his vision, Hasenohrl says, “As a dueling piano player myself, I wanted to give the bar a nightclub feel . . . bigger, classier than the old-style bars.” As such, Keys on Main features a video wall and special lighting showcasing a duo of facing grand pianos on stage. “Attending one of our shows is more like going to a rock concert,” adds Hasenohrl.

Open to the public, Keys on Main offers craft cocktails and pub fare too, but the big attraction is the dueling piano show. With doors opening at 7 p.m, reserved seating fills by 8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., the show—or showdown—begins and often goes until 1:30 in the morning. Catapulting the lively atmosphere to an even higher level is an evening’s audience, with customers also dueling it out with paid special song requests. Just when your favorite song may be wafting through the club, a competing guest may throw down more money for a different tune, thereby stopping your song in its musical tracks. An endless evening of musicians duking it out on the keyboards, with cheering crowds and cool music… sounds like a hit. 

Keys on Main, Triangle Square, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Suite L1-108, Costa Mesa, CA 92627 | KeysOnMain.com

Classic Combination

Hosted at the recently renovated Center Club of Orange County in Costa Mesa, the 11th annual Charity Classic “Hops & Vines” fundraiser proved more than memorable. More than 350 guests enjoyed premium wines, craft brews and scotch, along with an array of appetizers and live music at the event, which raised approximately $40,000 for local causes serving the OC community, including the evening’s featured charity, Working Wardrobes. “Hops & Vines” also benefitted the ALS Therapy Development Institute, and the Employee Partner Care Foundation. Besides several new sponsors, this year’s event featured Ric Franzi as emcee and former L.A. Rams quarterback-turned-winemaker Vince Ferragamo, who brought his acclaimed Tuscan wine Caressa J. Overall, the 11th annual fundraiser was all about making new friends and connecting to worthy causes—a winning combination, indeed!  

 

Shahin Vosough, Lola Gershfeld, Paul Greenwald and Richard Ward

Shahin Vosough, Lola Gershfeld, Paul Greenwald and Richard Ward

Vince Ferragamo

Vince Ferragamo

Allison Ramirez and Monica Alfisi

Allison Ramirez and Monica Alfisi

Sherry & Richard Van Meter

Sherry & Richard Van Meter

Kristine Molina and Kristine Batista

Kristine Molina and Kristine Batista

Alexa Buckwold and Kris de la Pena

Alexa Buckwold and Kris de la Pena

Meridith Webster, Mary Ann Profeta and Ladan Davia

Meridith Webster, Mary Ann Profeta and Ladan Davia

Photos courtesy of Center Club of Orange County/Tony Lattimore and Eveline Shih-Pitcairn