Restaurant Review: Heirloom Café at The Wexner Center
Heirloom Café updated its menu this month, and you’ve got exactly three days to try it out.
Not that the joint is closing, it’s just that Heirloom is taking a few summer breaks, and the first one is June 29 through July 7.
But then, after your Independence Day hot dog binge (and possible purge) is complete, you can get down at Heirloom Café with some good-time, local eats.
If you’ve never stopped in the cafe, the whole endeavor might sound more “interesting” than “scrumptious” to the average onlooker. It’s in the firmly deconstructionist Wexner Center –which means that the host building looks chaotic, because it’s supposed to look chaotic. The café is in the lower level and is run by a chef whose impressive resume includes a stint in a fancy French restaurant.
Yet, somehow all that adds up to good food: really good food. It’s tasty and somehow feels good-for-you because Chef John Skaggs is also seriously into the local farming scene and local ingredients. In fact, there’s a good-sized garden of Heirloom’s produce bunched up next to the Wex building.
The Chimichurri ($8.25) is a new burger. If you’ve had chimichurri sauce before, you know it’s a savory South American thing. The burger itself is infused with those flavors, topped with tender little leaves of baby greens, a few slices of pickled carrot and some chimichurri sauce. It’s different, but in an addictive, hearty way.
The table favorite was the Chicken Green Chili ($9.50) –and really, the excitement was all about the chicken itself –endless shreds of savory seasoned poultry. Rounding it out was a nice mix of black beans (with teeny diced red and yellow peppers), a brown rice mixture, and some whole-wheat tortillas.
It should be noted that the chicken dish was the “table favorite” because the Ratatouille ($8.75) was not shared with the entire table. We all know that sharing is overrated, right?.
It’s getting close to the time of year when it is prime time to eat unstopbable gobs of ratatouille. Right now, it’s difficult to think of anyplace that does the dish better than Heirloom. The kitchen manages to concentrate the summer vegetable flavors –intense zucchini, tomato and eggplant. There’s some penne too, and also some goat cheese. Even though goat cheese is possibly the least lovable thing in the world, it was good in the mix.
That’s how good the ratatoulle was: it made goat cheese enjoyable.
Of course, you can still score some favorites from the old menu: The Quiches ($6.50) are still in the house. The broccoli version is laudably fluffy and tender (courtesy organic eggs), it’s bound by a crust that has a dark hue, because it’s made with whole wheat.
The menu includes a host of other breakfast items, as well as plenty of lunchtime sandwiches and entrees.
Beneath the order counter is a bakery case of sweets that demand a little attention too. The Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Cookie ($2) taste like an old-fashioned classical cookie, inspite of it’s nouveau combination. Though it was good, it was outshined by some strange chocolate thing called a Bizache ($3). A Bizache is a round, single-serve flourless cake. One bite into the little cake gives way to a luscious, fudgy chocolate trove. It’s not drippy, but it’s not cakey either: just perfect, smooth, mouth-filling chocolate.
If you hurry, you can try all this stuff before the team goes on vacation. Heirloom is open weekdays at 9am. It closes at 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It’s open until 7pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
More information can be found online at www.wexarts.org/location/cafe.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.