THE NEW HAVEN
“CAN YOU POLISH A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH?”
Location: The New Haven a large estate pub on Dillotford Avenue in the Cheylesmore area of Coventry. It is 5 miles from the Ricoh Arena however with its location very close to the A45 and A46 it is easily accessible from neighbouring Rugby, Leamington, Warwick and Solihull.
Formerly known as The Haven in recent years it has been anything but a ‘haven’ having acquired a reputation for being a rough pub. We at DEX can testify for this but always felt that it had huge potential as a desi grill pub due to a sizeable Punjabi population in the surroundings areas of Cheylesmore, Stivichall and Finham. A couple of years ago the pub was taken over with the intention of being converted to a desi pub.
Around March 2018 the pub closed which seemed to be end of the Haven Desi Pub story. However as the saying goes where there’s a will there’s a way and it seems others were not deterred by the previous owners failing and took it upon themselves to try to realise the potential of the pub. The pub was reopened in the autumn of 2018 and a month ago the chef was recruited and boy was he worth waiting for as the following review will confirm!
Appearance: The New Haven is a traditional estate pub comprising of a lounge in the middle with two sizeable rooms off each side and a ample car parking on site. The restaurant area is known as the “RNB Grill” @ The New Haven and is in the room to the left when facing the main lounge. The room is recently refurbished and there are numerous TV screens which allows a good view for the football from every table and the usual BT and Sky Sports is offered. Not much has been done to the exterior of the pub appearance but with another large room and a sizeable rear garden the owners have potential to really do something special with the building one day. As is business it all takes time and money!
Drinks: The beer offering in the bar n the ‘mix grill’ room is your standard offerings of Carling, Guinness etc but we felt there was a lack of premium options with Cobra the main one which is ideal with a curry but some variety in future is something for the owners to consider.
Spirits similarly the standard brands like Smirnoff, Gordon’s, Bacardi etc are on offer but again its something for the owners to look into and possibly expand their range. Pricing on beers and spirits was competitive though which is a plus if you plan on spending a few hours for the sport and to eat.
Food Ordering: Food orders are placed and paid for at the bar and food delivered to your table, there is no open kitchen as is often the case these days . We ordered our mix grill separate from the curry as we were here for the champions league football. The wait time was advised of around 20 minutes and food arrived sizzling perfectly on time. This was surprising given they have only started the food side of the business recently and with the venue nearly full due to the football.
We opted for the Large RNB mixed grill which claims to serve 4 people and massala chips. A regular mix grill aimed at 2 is also offered and both have an upgrade option of the additions of prawn or salmon for additional cost. We went with the standard large to road test that first. A Paneer platter for 2 is also available as a vegetarian option. There’s also a range of starters as separate plates like Amritsari fish, aloo chaat, chilli paneer etc
The Sizzler: Now this when the New Haven begins to really excel!
Chicken Tikka – Well flavoured and marinaded with nice spice and good sized succulent chunks.
Sheesh Kebab – Again well spiced and these had a kick, good size too and juicy. Its clear these are cooked fresh and speaking to Reggie one of the staff on duty he advised they cook fresh to order.
Chicken Wings – Marinade spot on and good kick to them, meaty and crispiness of the skin hit the right notes!
Lamb Chops – Star of the show flavourful, cooked to perfection and ample meat and no issues on the fat to meat ratio.
One regret we had was not upgrading to try the prawn or salmon option as every component on the sizzler was spot on and thats not always a given.
Massala Chips – These were more akin to chilli chips in the indo-Chinese dhaba style with a sauce rather then massala chips with the massala spices sprinkled over it as advertised. They were delicious though and would order again. Whilst the menu doesn’t list Chilli Chicken (our go to dish in Punjab at Dhaba’s) on the menu we would be interested to see if the chef could make one on request and something we will consider asking for next time.
Curries: We were recommended to try the lamb curry and opted for chicken palak with a tandoori roti, garlic naan and egg fried rice.
Lamb Curry – This was right up there with the lamb chops as a highlight. The chef will also cook to your require heat level and asked for it desi style which came out perfect the heat and the curry sauce itself was very rich and flavourful.
Chicken Palak – Another impressive dish and it was clear the thoorka in the saag was freshly made and saag spot on in flavour and texture.
Egg Fried Rice – Better then most chinese takeaways again can tell freshly cooked the seasae oil and soya sauce came through in the taste.
Naans/Roti – Spot on and a good size which is a bug bear of mine as they seem to be getting smaller and smaller these days.
Conclusion: The New Haven can and should be considered not just the new dog on the Coventry desi pub scene but may lay claim to being top dog certainly in regards to the mix grill and curry offering. Scoring we feel reflects the first visit and could be higher once we try the upgraded mix grill/fish starters and a few more curries it could well be pushing higher!
The owners have done an excellent job in taking this ‘diamond in the rough’ and started to polish it creating a family friendly desi venue in a much needed part of Coventry and have brought order to the pub through having real landlords who are firm and friendly in their approach. Waiting several months until they hired the right chef was an excellent move given the quality of the food and speaking to regular patrons the consistency is on point as a few have already returned frequently in the past month. With a few more improvements the New Haven should now be a true ‘Haven’. Oh and to finish they also serve a roast on Sundays which the DEX team look forward to trying soon!