Review: Heirloom (Charlotte, NC)

Heirloom is a farm-to-table gem hidden in the rough outskirts of Charlotte, NC.  Nestled in a very unsuspecting location off the highway, you might not know in passing that it’s worth a try without a prior internet search.

All of the food is local and organic, if not grown directly on restaurant property in their garden – and, no joke, they have beehives on the roof where they get their honey.  The menu can change on a whim, so every experience is going to be unique.  You can order off the menu for that night, or do it up with the six course tasting menu with wine pairings – you can opt for vegetarian and even vegan menus (with notice when making your reservation – they can accommodate any dietary restrictions, and with gusto).  Naturally, I got the vegetarian six course tasting menu with wine pairings.

Seven if you count the made-in-house bread.  The butter came served on a slab of slate.  The vibe of this restaurant was rustic to the nth degree.

Every course was particularly aromatic in a way that I cannot recall ever experiencing in another restaurant.  As they set the plate in front of you, you are immediately engulfed in pleasant aromas.

It started with a micro-greens salad with radishes, a homemade crouton of the same bread that was served to start, in a strawberry vinaigrette with a scent so voluminous you’re practically embraced by a cloud of delicate strawberry – it was fabulous. Paired with an Italian Pinot Grigio.

Second: a sweet potato soup, with a tasteful edible purple flower.  Creamy, flavorful, comforting.  Paired with a German Gewürztraminer.

Perhaps the best pairing of the evening, the third course was a “mushroom cake” a la crab cakes.  The texture was extremely similar, though the flavor stronger and meatier than the more delicate seafood flavor of crab.  The cakes were served over a sharp, fresh slaw that was in perfect balance for the density of the cakes.  Paired with a full-bodied, spicy California Pinot Noir that added layers and layers to this combination and stood out most among the rest of the courses.

Fourth was the main entree of a fried “Hen of the Woods” mushroom over sauteed greens and mashed potatoes. A meat & potatoes dish epitomized in vegetarian form.  The Hen of the Woods mushroom was a piece of produce I had not previously been introduced to, and my mind was blown.  Cutting into it, it was fibrous like chicken in a genuinely alarming way that makes a vegetarian do a double-take and question “wait, did they accidentally give me meat?”, and speaking of texture – I’ve never had fried-anything that perfectly crisp and crunchy that I can recall.  The greens were admittedly a little too fibrous for my likely and left me chewing like a cow.  But the potatoes were absolutely decadent, rich, and creamy with satisfying chunks distributed throughout.  Paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon – I felt like I was eating like a meat & potatoes loving king.

Look at that texture!

The fifth course was a semi-dessert – a tart Greek-style yogurt with berries and nuts.  A fantastic dynamic of sweet, tart, and savory.  Something I’d actually prefer to a traditional dessert.  Paired with a red local wine whose variety I cannot remember as I was unfamiliar with it and it went right over my head at this point in the meal – oops.

But of course, the sixth and final course was a traditional dessert of warm berry crumble with vanilla ice cream.  Classic, and done very well by the Heirloom chefs.  Paired with a white dessert wine.

Bursting at the seams by the end of it, I could only eat half of the complimentary mini sugar cookie they send you home with (though it was chewy and sweet).

I’ll definitely be using their daily-changing menu as an excuse to go again soon – basically like trying a new restaurant, right?

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