By: Ian Palmer
Heirloom Café and Fresh Market has effectively slid under my radar the past three years I’ve lived in Athens. Located in Normaltown on the corner of Chase Street and Boulevard, the quaint restaurant calls little attention to itself. I finally ventured over to Heirloom for dinner a few nights ago, and I was pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer.
Heirloom is a farm to table eatery, sourcing as many of its ingredients as possible from local producers in the Athens area. This is most noticeable in the menu, which changes seasonally and highlights the simplicity of farm raised proteins and fresh produce. The current dinner menu includes chicken breast, skate wing, a farm raised burger, and shrimp and grits.
When I get indecisive at restaurant I tend to just pick the first thing on the menu, so I opted for the Chicken Breast from Darby Farms. I love when a simple meal is made so well that it becomes something special – and Heirloom knocks it out of the park with this dish. Because of the kitchen’s availability, my chicken breast was actually replaced with two thighs, which was perfect because I love dark meat. The chicken was paired with collards, potatoes, and a sherry reduction. That’s it – nothing crazy, just really good ingredients cooked really well. The chicken and vegetables were fresh and savory, and the sherry concoction brought it all together by adding a touch of sweetness. I highly recommend this meal.
My date went with the Spanish flatbread with arugula, eggplant, and tomato sauce. All I can say is that vegetables really taste so much different – aka better – when they are eaten this fresh. It tasted like the eggplant could have been picked that morning – which it likely was. We also shared a sweet potato soup, which disappeared in seconds and had us licking the bowl.
Heirloom has the kind of menu that could reflect high prices and a stuffy atmosphere, but instead the restaurant is made to feel like home. It is decorated casually, the service is welcoming, and the prices encourage families to come enjoy a good meal together.
Heirloom is a great place to spend a sunny late afternoon. It has patio seating, a bocce ball court out front, and Wednesday nights are half wine night! Quality food, a casual atmosphere, and doable prices – what more could you want?
Heirloom also serves Brunch and Lunch. I plan on returning to try both as soon as possible.