Heirloom is easily a top 5 Charlotte restaurant – and depending on your taste, I could see you ranking it the #1 restaurant in our city.
Other restaurants in their tier include: Kindred, Barrington’s, Good Food, Lumiere, Heritage, The Gallery, Fig Tree and Rooster’s (the most approachable).
The experience of dining at Heirloom is different – and remarkable.
The space felt like the love child of a gutted Red Lobster and a mountain resort restaurant. No matter your interpretation, the space doesn’t feel like a Charlotte restaurant.
The easiest way to describe the space is the exact opposite of Good Food on Montford. Heirloom is spacious, dark and nobody would describe it as trendy. Hearing is easy and the vibe is Asheville-relaxed.
Once inside, you’ll find the main dining area to the left, bar to the back right center and private dining on the far right.
With investment from mega-successful restaurateur Frank Scibelli, Heirloom will soon be remodeling their entire restaurant to create a more intimate atmosphere.
Heirloom’s staff has the understated confidence of a winning sports team who knows that their team, their product and their superstar is better than the competition.
They don’t need to tell you how good they are, they just go execute and show you.
If Heirloom is the Cleveland Cavaliers, Clark Barlowe is LeBron James. He’s their superstar and everything is built around him.
He also wears a signature tiny hat – it’s his equivalent of the Steve Jobs black turtle neck.
Clark’s the exact type of visionary psycho that you want on your team.
Clark requests squirrel hunts for menu ideas, obsesses over local vegetables and uses liquid nitrogen to make homemade ice cream.
I dined at Heirloom on a Saturday night at 7 p.m. with my wife for her birthday.
Our table was spacious (we weren’t on top of the people next to us), and the restaurant didn’t really get busy until 8 p.m.
It became clear to me that Heirloom is the type of place you make a night out of – not the type of place you grab a quick bite to eat before going out.
I scanned the dining room and most patrons seemed to be couples on a date night who I’d expect to be Garden & Gun subscribers. In general, diners were younger than I anticipated and looking around, it felt like people had this “in the know” smirk that signaled – the rest of Charlotte can have their SouthPark restaurants, but we – the people that get it – know about Heirloom.
I tried to order my typical “Dirty Grey Goose martini on the rocks” (makes me feel fancy) and the waitress gave me the friendly reminder that everything is sourced locally, even the liquor – Doc Porter’s Vodka in this case.
I started off with a fancy cocktail before my Dirty Doc Porter’s martini on the rocks.
Heirloom’s menu changes daily depending on the fresh ingredients they’ve sourced – almost all vegetables, fruit, seafood, meat and beverages are produced in North Carolina.
Menu prices were lower than I expected.
Appetizers were anywhere from $6 – $8, sides were all $3 and here’s a few of the entree items on the night I went (pretty sure these are all regular staples): The Mills Family Farm Ribeye ($35), NC game pasta ($18), Heirloom Fried Chicken ($16) and NC Day Boat Catch ($25). I thought entree price points would have been about $5 higher given the price point creep I’m seeing at other fancy Charlotte restaurants.
Oh, before I forget, Heirloom called that morning to confirm our reservation and ask if it was a special occasion – I told them it was my wife’s birthday.
Since this was a special occasion, my wife and I both ordered the 6-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu.
It cost $75. The waitress asked about our tastes and if we had any special requests, but we left it up to her – she did an outstanding job being confident and leading us.
With the exception of one course, she gave us each different items – which allowed me to sample 11 items.
Our highlights included:
- Kilt Kale Salad ($7): House made applewood bacon, red onion, Arkansas apples, farmstead cheese, sundrop vinegar
- Heirloom Fried Chicken ($16): Truffled mac & cheese, red cabbage slaw, rooftop honey hot sauce
- NC Game Pasta ($18): Duck, rabbit, goose, heirloom tomato sauce, pecorino romano, arugula
I never thought that the Carpe Diem Fried Chicken would be dethroned as my favorite dish in Charlotte, but the Heirloom Fried Chicken is better. It’s the sauce.
Cheshire Pork Belly ($24) – Coldwater Creek Grits, roast carrots, celery, pork jus
I highly recommend the $75 tasting menu. That said, it’s way too much food and Heirloom should go smaller portions on the tasting menu. We felt JV, but we ended up asking for a to-go box.
As Heirloom’s staff presented us with each dish, they would explain the back story. This made the dining experience unique and when well described, food always tastes better.
Additionally, I loved that each dish was plated with what looked to be odd, pottery-style handmade plates and bowls.
Dining at Heirloom is a must-do activity for any Charlottean who cares about food and the dining experience. And honestly, I think both the restaurant and Clark Barlowe are just getting started.
Oh and I love that they leave markers in the restrooms for you to write all over the walls.
Fun to do and fun to read…
It’s not everyday that you see a city’s arguably #1 restaurant with a giant penis drawing in the men’s restroom via a silver marker.
cover photo via Facebook