Actually Pretty Awesome: Dungeness Crab Salad at Haven

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Pretty, right? Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

It's been a full year since Daniel Patterson and executive chef Kim Alter opened Haven, and just now Jack London Square is coming more alive with the openings of The Forge and Lungomare, creating the kind of critical mass of food spots — along with four-year-old Bocanova and longtime stalwart Scott's — that the long dormant plaza has needed. We just swung back there last week and sampled a few of the things on Alter's winter menu, all of which were as impressively composed and uniquely delicious as we remembered from the opening menu. The star, however, was this seemingly simple Dungeness crab salad.

Most chefs choose to serve Dungeness crab, when it's in season, fairly unadulterated. Alter sort of does, but she dresses the crab itself with lemon and mixes in small bits of fresh, sweet Meyer lemon, adding a wintry citrus kick to the sweet, perfectly cooked meat. It's served at room temperature alongside two condiments, creme fraiche and blood orange purée, with a couple of porcini-scented crisps and lightly dressed foraged herbs and greens like nasturtium leaves, endive, and watercress. It's a brightly flavored and terrific combination, the herbs and fruit complementing and elevating the crab without distracting from it. It's the paradigm of Dungeness crab salads as far as we're concerned.

Earlier on Actually Pretty Awesome:
Chicken Drums at Rickybobby
The Doc Hopper at Absinthe
The Burger at KronnerBurger
Bang Bang Chicken Wings at M.Y. China
'Fruit Loops' at Chambers Eat + Drink
Smoked Pulled Goat at Southpaw
Manti Dumplings at Troya Fillmore
Flaming Sea Bass Roll at Elephant Sushi
Black Risotto With Uni and Egg at Prospect
Seared Salmon and Mussel Mashed Potatoes at Bisou
The Meatloaf at Jamber
Carrots at Commonwealth
Turducken at Honor Bar
Beggar's Chicken at Betelnut
Lobster Bread Pudding and Smoked Cod at Maverick
Green Farro-Sausage Risotto at RN74
Vegan Charctuerie at Gather
Pickled Eggs at St. Vincent
Beef Tongue at Namu Gaji
Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken at Brasa
Green Garlic Bread at State Bird Provisions
A Dinner of Small Plates and the Duck Confit Salad at Frances
Duck Fat Chex Mix at Truck Stop Café
The Lamb Tongue Salad at Txoko
The Branzino and the Cucumber and Scallops at AQ
Dinner at Local Mission Eatery
Suckling Pig Sandwich at Sweet Woodruff
Crudités at Saison
The Roasted Broccoli Sandwich at Split Pea Seduction
The Buffalo Burger at Double Decker
Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas
The Cocktails at Outerlands
The Meatball Gigante and the Honey Pie at Tony’s Pizza
Three New Gins from St. George Spirits
The Fried-Chicken Sliders at The Lookout
The Tripe and the Pickles at Bar Tartine
Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Doughnuts at Beast & the Hare