So, yet another local restaurant opens in the Mission District serving local food. Yawn. But, mom’s in town so we decide to try the Heirloom Café out.
OMG. It’s good, really good – maybe the best meal I’ve had in the Mission District for a while. It reminded me of some place but I can’t remember where – some place where the food tastes perfect, but not fussy.
Mark starts with a bacon and onion tart. Someone back in the open kitchen has caramelized the onions into a wonderful rich texture that the bacon breaks up with small delightful crunches. The crust is crumbly, light
I go with the fava bean, feta, fennel, arugala and walnut salad to start ($9). Fava beans are often overcooked and mushy – not these and the combination with fennel makes it spark. Also, love that someone didn’t overdress the whole concoction. Thank you.
The salad comes with a tranche of toasted ( on the grill?) bread. Delish.
Mark couldn’t resist the orecchiette, sausage, rapini, yellow eye beans and parmesan pasta dish ($14); I had the mussels with roasted tomatoes, shallots and sherry ($10); and mom, who is on a salt free diet asked them to give her the baked halibut and fava, bean, fennel salad with no dressing and no feta. (The waiter didn’t even come close to a look of reproach when she asked to have it served together.)
We ate happily.
The orecchiette was a blend of spicy flavors that allowed the taste of the greens to remain. Nice. The mussels had a warm smoky aftertaste from the roasted tomatoes. Perfect.
We wanted to try more – like this enormous cheeseburger that the women at the table next to us ordered. The waiter had to cut it in half and still, we wondered how they would eat it. They managed.
The place – a large ground-floor corner space on the southwest corner of Folsom and 21st Street – is the creation of Matt Straus, who worked most recently as a server and sommelier at Jardiniere and RN 74. Earlier, he worked as a wine director and cook at a small catering company in Los Angeles, also called Heirloom.
When he’s not in the kitchen as chef, Straus wanders around talking to diners and has a sort of quiet, self-effacing-Sam Mogannam-of- Bi-Rite-affect. How can you not like a guy who starts his blog bio, “ Matt Straus has been working in food service for the past twenty-three years, beginning with a stint at the neighborhood McDonald’s when he was fourteen?”
Anyway, he’s definitely learned his business.
Oh, forgot to mention a couple of things – the desert we tried, an olive oil short cake with strawberries was to die for and mom’s unsalted (by her request) baked halibut, she says, was the best unsalted fish she’s had in a long time.
Wish I could do due diligence on the wine, but I’m no connoisseur. We drank by the glass and took recommendations from the waiter. N.V. Montaigneu Brut, Peillot ($11) and 2003 Gruner Veltliner ‘Lamm,’ Hirsch (12)….both lovely and apparently from reading around Straus has a cellar that goes deep (all sorts of wine awards on his CV).
Final note: Nice to have a hostess who grew up in the Mission District – musicians in the family and she could sit and talk to mom about music as we waited for a cab.
2500 Folsom St.@ 21st
Mon. to Sat. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.