Haven Hot Chicken opened yesterday in Norwalk, at 596 Westport Ave. The store is in the left end of the store group just to the west of Whole Foods. The grand opening featured balloons and a sandwich give-away, long over when we came to get our dinner around 5:30pm. At that time, it wasn’t all that busy. This is the third Haven restaurant in Connecticut: the others are in New Haven and Orange. The first two feature Uber Eats delivery, and this new one presumably will as well once they get fully open.
This is one of a number of chains featuring their take on Nashville hot chicken, which is this case is breaded chicken breast sandwiches at one of 5 degrees of spiciness:
- Country – no spice
- Mild – hint of spice
- Medium – proper spice
- Hot – will burn
- Haven – for the Hot Head
You can just order the sandwich for $12.99, or a Combo for $3.25 more, which includes a side and a drink. We ordered a Mild and a Medium combo with fries, a Hot sandwich and additional sides of their coleslaw and banana pudding, which totaled $54.45 with tax but before tip.
The spice levels
I personally found the mild, so unspicy that you only noticed it as an aftertaste. By contrast the Medium tastes spicy on biting into it, and continues after each bite. I found the Hot sandwich only a little spicier than the Medium, although, remember this is opening day, and things may change as they settle in.
Most Nashville hot chicken recipes call for frying the chicken normally and then spreading the spicy paste on afterwards. However, it is clear that at Haven, the spice is part of the batter. The chicken breast is coated with the spicy batter and deep fried. This pretty much means that these sandwiches are cooked to order. This would be consistent with the 10-15 minute wait for them to fill your order. At the moment that clearly does not apply to the French fries, however. I would expect this may improve as they gain more experience.
The sandwiches that they call “THE Sandwich” are enormous: they have an awful lot of chicken breast in each one. If your appetite is somewhat smaller, they offer chicken tenders (Tendies in their naming scheme) separately or as a slider. Like THE Sandwich, they are topped with coleslaw, a garlic dill pickle and a bit of Rob Sauce. You can also order several sauces separately: Rob, Blue Cheese, House Ranch, and Sweet Sauce.
Finally, they also offer Chicken and Waffles: two Tendies on a Liege waffle with maple brown sugar aioli and powdered sugar. This looks like an interesting combination we’ll try on another visit. There is a side of pancake syrup available, too.
Like some other nearby emporiums, they give you quite a plethora of French fries, and you might do better to order one sandwich with fries and another with coleslaw, and share. You can also get a Mac and Cheese side, but it costs $1.65 additional as the provided side, or $4.99 separately.
Finally, they offer just one real dessert, “Banana Puddin’,” that is sweet and huge. Two people or even three could share this hugely filling dessert. The topping at first sight appears to be whipped cream, but it isn’t exactly: its much too thick to be just cream, perhaps with gelatin or other thickeners added.
This is their first day in a new location, and I’m include to overlook their first day issues. We’ll report back to you in a month or so. Meanwhile, Haven Hot Chicken, welcome to Norwalk.