Heirloom Eats: Where heritage is plated every day
The Palmetto Pig was sent out to pasture.
Jerry and Casey Crites, owners of Foodeze Catering and the former Palmetto Pig, then launched their new restaurant, Heirloom Eats, in December in Mount Pleasant.
This father-daughter team also collaborated with chef Chad Billings of Culinary Concepts of Charleston to create a menu that would feature local products, regional producers and cherished family recipes.
Isle of Palms native Kalen Fortuna brings a 10-year career in the local restaurant scene to the kitchen of Heirloom Eats as chef. Both owners and chef share the commitment to local products and providing a value-priced menu.
The interior space was renovated from its former buffet layout. In keeping with the economy of reuse and recycle, the Criteses secured table tops made from reclaimed wood panels, the bar surface was crafted from French doors, and the walls were decorated with attractive baskets and old-timey photographs from an era when life was simpler and "heirloom" needed no definition. Mason jars have been repurposed into a chandelier and illuminate the booths, bringing a bit of kitsch to the decor.
Look to the large framed chalkboard that features the daily specials. Expect to find a burger, salad and entree that reflect the season.
The menu is rooted in the South but expresses itself with modern interpretation of the local canon: farro as perlau; preserved lemon added to a vinaigrette; jalapeno seasoning the creamed corn; and a carrot-almond jam speaking in a North African accent over local mahi-mahi ($16.50).
The most expensive entree comes in at $19.50 for a New York strip steak.
This is a scratch kitchen where the chicken is smoked with sweet tea, dried cranberries and mushrooms perfume a poultry reduction, house-smoked bacon seasons the "four-cheese mac and cheese" ($12), dumplings are fashioned from red beets and the flavor profile of deviled eggs forms the foundation for crispy fried chicken skins ($6). Fortuna's kitchen also preserves jams and pickles.
Appetizers are expressed with a contemporary flair: okra fries with aioli, a garlic mayonnaise ($7); pork cooked in its own fat and served as rilettes ($6.50); and SoCo chips ($4) of sweet and white potatoes served with a vibrant red pepper dipping sauce.
Do plan on trying their soups. The cauliflower bisque ($4, $6) with country ham will convert the cauliflower-adverse.
The kitchen tinkers "just enough" with classics, and although I did not taste their fried chicken ($11) served with two sides, it looked wonderful and the nearby guest who ordered it declared it "delicious."
A quail dish ($10), grilled and served over "onion grits with cranberry-mushroom jus" suffered from under-cooking, but the quail seasoning was right on. Dried cranberries and mushroom bits added the right notes of sweetness and earthiness.
The onion "strings" in the grits were an impediment to eating -- dice them, perhaps -- and the grits were bland and in need of a salt fix.
Wadmalaw chicken ($10.95) was prepared with andouille sausage and tasso ham in a bechamel sauce, and the ham and sausage did for the grits what the above mentioned "jus" could not: season them. The chicken was tender and the andouille and tasso breathed heat into the grits. I do think some dark meat would enhance this dish, as the leanness of the breast can dry out in cooking.
A short rib braise ($17) was served over a ragout of white beans and pistachio and red beet dumplings that reminded me of gnocchi. The greenness of the pistachios was repeated with a finish of parsley oil that was a flavorful addition to the dish. The meat, cooked to a tender slump, was a bit dried out and could benefit from some internal fattiness.
This is a kitchen with very good potential. The cooking errors can easily be rectified as the recipe base offers creativity and adventure.
Desserts are served in two portion sizes, and a small ($2.25) apple crisp blossomed with flavor.
Beer lovers will be pleased with the local draught selections, including Westbrook and Holy City. The bottled beers are diverse and well-priced ($3-$5). The wine list is tidy and features labels not seen all over town.
Heirloom Eats is a welcome player to the "east of" restaurant scene. Its core menu is one of measured simplicity and with a bit of fine-tuning on the seasoning and cooking ends, will mature into a local treasure where heritage and heartfelt find common ground at the table.