Local Spotlight

"Kirby-side" Chicken Pick-Up Now Available at Haven

I know the parking situation around Haven has been a bit of a nightmare lately. Just as the construction on Kirby finally ceased, new "breastaurant" Twin Peaks opened up and unleashed its often obnoxious clientele upon the small parking area shared by Haven, Cafe Japon, Taco Cabana and a small bank. The last two times I've been to Haven, I've had to battle cars whipping in front of me and cutting me off to get to Twin Peaks's valet stand, and I'm not alone.

Chef Randy Evans knows that parking has been a problem, too. One day, as Evans told me, a delivery truck got stuck in the small curve of Algerian Way because Twin Peaks customers had parked on both sides of the tiny street and blocked the truck in. And on repeated occasions, Evans claims, Twin Peaks customers have driven over traffic cones to park their cars in Haven's valet-only lot and blown off the valet guys when asked to move. Towing has become one of the only solutions to the traffic and parking nightmare, one that Cafe Japon, Taco Cabana and Haven are all strictly enforcing (something I've also witnessed myself).

While things even out over there, though, Haven wants you to avail yourself of a new service it's offering: "Kirby-side" chicken pick-up, which gets you a meal for four for only $35, delivered straight to your car at Haven's valet stand. It's available every day of the week after 5 p.m.

The chicken is -- naturally, as this is Haven we're talking about -- free-range and organic, either fried or herb-roasted. If you're like me, you can split the difference and get half of each to spread the love around. And this is exactly what I did last night, as part of my Galentine's Day celebration.

Because I'm obnoxiously in love with Parks and Recreation, my friends and I decided to host our own Galentine's Day (a made-up, day-before-Valentine's-Day celebration introduced on the show last week) replete with fried chicken, champagne and a viewing of The Princess Bride. We never got to the movie, though, and spent the entire night at the table eating nearly every last scrap of food.

Along with the half-and-half box of chicken, Haven also throws in two pints of sides and six rolls with butter. For the sides, you can choose between red beans and rice, creamed greens, mashed potatoes with andouille cream gravy, or cole slaw. We went with the mashed potatoes and creamed greens and weren't disappointed with either.

Evans's buttermilk-fried chicken is quickly becoming the stuff of Houston legends, and with good reason. It's crispy and savory without being too greasy -- this ain't a 10-piece bucket from KFC. But the herb-roasted is no sad second: It's just as moist and flavorful, albeit with a little less guilt. The sides are inherently guilty pleasures, however, creamy and studded with smoky chunks of tasso ham.

For $35, it's a steal of a meal and the perfect way to have a nice dinner at home without doing any cooking. Just give the restaurant at least 30 minutes notice, then come home a hero.

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Katharine Shilcutt