I will be honest. I never heard of Heirloom Kitchen or Chef David Viana before the popular cooking competition Top Chef on Bravo, but after getting to know the chefs on the show after watching a couple of episodes I immediately added Heirloom Kitchen to my list. I’m always ready to add a good restaurant to my list. Basically, #willtravelforfood.
Heirloom Kitchen is located in Northern, NJ and is a multi-use space housing a restaurant, cooking school and boutique. It was opened by Chef David Viana and Neilly Robinson and they work with a host of amazing chefs that have made their mark on the New Jersey restaurant scene. They source their ingredients from local areas for a true farm-to-table menu that changes seasonally.
3853 County Rd 516
Old Bridge, NJ 08857
What I Ate:
Amuse Bouche – coconut lemongrass soup
Pork Belly – mango, savory churro crumble, black bean and cilantro
Lox Flatbread – blood orange, pistachio and pickled fennel
Scallops – miso honey sunchoke purée, mushroom jam, cashews, pears and shiso pesto
Brussel Sprouts – honey sriracha, puffed rice, and mint
Meyer Lemon Bar – lavender, puffed grains and hibiscus
Deciding to go to Heirloom was a purely spontaneous decision as I was in Connecticut for work and the weather de-railed my plans bringing me home earlier than I anticipated. I couldn’t make a reservation online because they only accept them for parties of 2 or more. This is a conversation for another day because I have feelings about it. However, I called and they were more than accommodating even when I had to call the second time to say I didn’t time my drive from CT correctly.
They gave me a prime seat at the Chef’s Counter right next to the prep station. I gotta say I’ve sat at counters before and I have never experienced the chefs being so warm, welcoming and willing to talk with their patrons. I got to spend the night with Chef Rob Santello, Sous Chef Kat Norat, Pastry Chef Sean Yan and Chef David Viana learning about their dishes and talking about the food scene.
Chef David Viana is on the 16th season of Top Chef and has a past littered with amazing experiences including cooking at the two-star Michelin restaurant Villa Joya in Portugal and Eleven Madison Park in New York. He has helped open seven restaurants and was nominated for a James Beard Award. All of the chefs are talented and that talent comes out in their food.
The meal started off with a light and refreshing lemon coconut soup and I followed up with the pork belly dish. Honestly, can you ever go wrong with pork belly? I think not. It melts in your mouth along with the flavors of the mango and cilantro and was delicious. Then I had the lox flatbread compliments of the chef. Honestly, it’s not something I would ever order because I don’t eat a ton of fish. Well, the fresh raw fish combined with the fresh citrus of the blood orange and crunchy sweetness of the pistachios was really awesome.
The highlight of the menu for me was the scallop dish, which was recently presented at the James Beard House. The plate has a lot of elements, because when you think about scallops, really you just want to pan fry them because they are like literal candy so (my theme of the night) and then you can combine so many flavors with them. The smooth sunchoke puree is highlighted by honey and mushroom jam that I seriously want every single day of my life. It’s.so.good. Then you get the fresh crisp of the pear with the pesto and seriously, every single bite was amazing.
I also had the brussel sprouts, which were served with honey sriracha, puffed rice and mint and I liked them, but not enough to eat all of them and not leave room for dessert. Definitely will be good with some roasted chicken thighs another day. I finished the meal with the meyer lemon bar with elements of hibiscus and lavender and it was the perfect end to the meal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ambience of Heirloom Kitchen and the great conversations with the staff, chefs and Chef David Viana. Above all, I enjoyed the food. Thanks for being such wonderful hosts and I hope to return (maybe for a cooking class!).