A North Carolina driven menu is just what Charlotte needs and receives at Heirloom Restaurant. The restaurant sits off Bellhaven Boulevard next to Coulwood Park in an updated, rustic-chic space featuring wooden tables from North Carolina reclaimed wood. Executive Chef and Owner Clark Barlowe transforms North Carolina ingredients into creative, yet familiar dishes from local farmers’ produce and foraged items from the wild.
The restaurant offers 3, 5, 7, 9 or 12 course tasting menus. Diners are also able to select and order menu items individually. I opted for the 5 course, per General Manager Sarah Turner Wells’ suggestion, as it “leaves you feeling satisfied, yet not stuffed.” The tasting menu is formatted so that you get to choose which items you receive, too. So if you choose the 5 course meal, you don’t have to eat courses 1-5, you can mix and match, which is a nice perk.
Along with the tasting menu comes a menu of craft cocktails that implement the same ingredients used in the kitchen in liquid form. The Summer Cocktail ($11.00) enclosed its name entirely with fresh fizzy lemongrass notes, house lemoncello and a lollipop of rooftop honey. Be warned, this cocktail packs a punch!
The meal kicked off with Pastry Chef Ann Marie’s scratch made pretzel bread and whipped mustard honey butter using honey from Heirloom’s rooftop hives. If I could start every meal like this, I’d die happy. The pretzel bread was the best of both types of pretzels; crisp and salty on the outside with a soft, pillowy interior. The smooth butter only jumped in flavor with the acidic mustard seeds before rounding out with the sweet honey.
Dover Farm Cheese Pumpkin Bisque ($7.00) was creamy and lush without the cream. The drizzle of Ma Cha’s Thai Chili Oil mixed into the soup was the perfect heat to cut through the richness of the bisque. The consistency was also spot on, giving the rich feeling in your mouth without being too heavy.
Rowland’s Row Boneless Wing Salad ($12.00) is the refined take on wings and blue cheese. The chicken was crisp and accented well with the fresh Boyle Farm Yellow Onions, crunchy Against the Grain Baby Carrots and rounded out with the tangy Orrman’s Cheese Shop Blue Cheese Sauce.
Harmony Ridge Egg Yolk Pasta Rustico ($16.00) featured torn, handmade pasta sheets dressed with just enough sauce without drowning the pasta. Dunnie Smith’s NC Wild shrimp were cooked perfectly. My favorite part was Ma Cha’s Thai Chili slices that added a lingering heat that didn’t catch up to you until the end of the dish.
Harmony Ridge Duck Breast ($18.00) was seared to a juicy medium, sliced and served over a fried green tomato that caught all the beautiful jus, in addition to the duck jus that was drizzled around the plate. The smashed Purple Viking potatoes were a nice touch for a modern take on “steak and potatoes.”
Ginger Snap Napoleon ($9.00) came out as a precursor to my fifth and final course. Served in a shot glass, all the flavors were intensified and melded well together; crisp sorghum snap crumbs, freshly candied ginger and a brown sugar caramel that balanced out the sweetness with its salty notes.
“Carrot Cake” ($9.00) was the most artistically plated dessert I’ve had in a while, with the components decomposed on the plate so you could make a customizable carrot cake bite from the cream cheese frosting, moist cake bites and baby carrot mousse. This was a great way to end the meal since it wasn’t overly sweet.
This meal already blew my mind, but I need to give a shout out to my server, Jason, for being such a wealth of knowledge of all ingredients from the menu. I was impressed by the attention to detail he had in communicating to the kitchen about my allergy restriction without being obnoxious. It was also awesome Pastry Chef Ann Marie custom made my dessert courses to be nut free, too. I already felt like a star partaking in this 5 course feast, let alone everyone making it tailored to be safe, too.
Heirloom is one of the few restaurants that not only receives high accolades, but warrants them through its food and dining experience. Heirloom is a must-stop for any Charlotte native or visitor wanting to partake in true farm to table, sustainable cuisine. The food is unparalleled and the service is top notch.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @