Todd Erickson Talks New Haven Menu, Huahua's Taqueria

Haven Gastro-Lounge has launched a new fall menu, adding some items to take advantage of the Florida growing season and deleting some items that executive chef Todd Erickson felt didn't fit into his global small plates vision.

Read Also: Best Gastropub 2012: Haven Lounge

Erickson explained to Short Order, "Global small plates is a blanket term that allows me to basically do whatever I want. In the end, my goal is to take food from different cultures and bring it back around with fresh, local ingredients."

Erickson frequently revisits the Haven menu, making seasonal changes and noting what works with diners. "The first Haven menu was very clean.There was a lot of protein and sushi. But I learned that people like those naughty little indulgences and who am I to stop people from enjoying something naughty?"

This time he's removed the "green" and "crisp" sections of the menu. "I don't want to be confined to have to create an entire salad and fried food section. I want the focus to be more on sharing. That opens up my options. I can do dumplings and mezze plates. I'm still keeping some salads and, of course, there will be some fried food."

In fact, two of the new fall menu items are fried. "We're doing a forbidden arancini ($9) with black rice. So you'll have a beautiful golden brown crunchy ball on the outside, but the rice is black on the inside -- almost like squid ink." The arancini is served with a mustard-leek fondue.

Erickson is also offering a buttermilk brined fried chicken, served with pepidou-honey and mustard seed caviar ($9). A homage to his roots, Erickson said this was the dish his coworkers were most excited about. "I'm obsessed with fried chicken," he said.

Other items include a daily catch ($11); five-spice pork belly gyoza with water chestnut, crispy sage, and chestnut-miso butter ($10); a mezze of charred eggplant, hummus, tzatzki, tapanade, and pita ($10), and a hokkaido ($14) with torched U-10 scallop, scallion, and kewpie-siracha (Haven's interpretation of a volcano roll).

Bartender Isaac Grillo, recently named Miami's "Ultimate Bartender", has created two new cocktails for fall, the RaVage with Don Julio reposado, pineapple, and lemongrass ($15), and the EnVied with Russian Standard vodka, custard apple, and spicy apple foam ($17).

We also asked Erickson about Huahua's Taqueria, his casual taco concept. "I though you would ask about that. In fact, I just had a meeting with our CEO." HuaHua's CEO, by the way, is a blue Chihuahua named Jalapeno.

"People are very receptive of us doing a taqueria here in South Beach. Huahua's is going to be a place where you can get a great taco basket on the run. This concept is about fast flavor."

Erickson, who called Texas his home for many years, plans on paying homage to traditional Mexican flavors -- with a bit of a twist. "The best tacos I've ever had were in front of the Fiesta grocery store. The meat was slow cooked in a crock pot using very good ingredients and fresh tortillas. I like traditional and I also like the playful side of food."

If you're hungry for tacos right now, you may have to wait a bit. Erickson is planning on holding off opening Huahua's until at least after the Christmas holidays, though he did hint at using Haven for a test run. "We're actually talking about doing taco Tuesdays to go with our expanded happy hour."

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1237 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL

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Russian Standard Vodka is about $20 a bottle and they are making a $17 cocktail out of it?  Miami is amazing.  

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