NYC Restaurants



191 Orchard St (Houston & Stanton)
New York, NY, 10002
(212) 228-9888
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Cuisine: Vegetarian

Menu:   View the Menu

Reader Ratings:

Cititour Review:
When an interviewer asked noted chef, restaurateur, and
vegetarian-cooking enthusiast Matthew Kenney how to interest meat eaters in veggie
fare, he replied, "Offer them a setting that's sexy, warm, and
inviting--and prepare food that's full-flavored and satisfying in a way they may
not have experienced before." And when asked to name his favorite
ingredients to work with, Kenney responded, "Fresh summer fruits--peaches,
apricots, nectarines--and heirloom tomatoes." It should come as no
surprise, then, that his new vegetarian restaurant on Orchard Street is
absolutely sexy, warm, and inviting--or that it's called, in a reference to
cherished artifacts and also great tomatoes, Heirloom. As chef de
cuisine, Kenney has hired Amanda Cohen, formerly of TeaNY and Pure Food and

We were greeted with smiles when we arrived for dinner, and the staff
remained gracious, genuinely helpful, and seemingly cheerful throughout
our stay. The primarily instrumental Euro-pop playing in the
background, interesting but not intrusive, was at just the right volume. (At one
point, a new CD came on slightly too loud; the fix was almost
instantaneous.) The tables and booths, pleasantly spaced from one another, are
flanked by elegant leaf-patterned sconces designed by the Dumbo design
firm DForm. When we took our seats, we found sprigs of fresh rosemary
tucked into our linen napkins. Marveling at the care taken even in tiny
details, we started to love the place before we'd even began to consider
what to eat.

Instead of bread, astonishingly light jalapeņo hushpuppies ("The best
hushpuppies I've ever had, by far," my dinnermate said) were brought to
the table, served with maple-mustard butter and creme frâiche with dill
and chives. For appetizers, we enjoyed a hearty but not heavy carrot
soup (poured at the table from a neat porcelain pitcher) and fantastic
vegetarian sushi featuring avocado and persimmon. Our wine, a Thelema
Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, was just right. (The extensive wine
list is all organic, as is 85% of the food menu.)

For the entrees, the ravioli with olives was appealingly unfussy, and
we were crazy for the well-seasoned polenta with tomato-poblano salsa
(beautifully served with micro-fennel, chives, and cilantro scattered
around the plate, giving the impression of a meadow). By this point a sort
of spell had taken over; the physical charms of the restaurant combined
with the quality of the food made it almost impossible not to feel
relaxed, refreshed, and somehow generally optimistic.

Note to future warm-weather visitors: A back room, the ceiling of which
is a huge skylight, will soon be ready for seating; and though heaters
are being installed, we can only imagine how lovely it will look and
feel on warmer days (and nights). Likewise, a back garden promises to be
a gorgeous spot--and perfectly in keeping with the nature's-abundance
menu fare.

For dessert, we shared a deeply yummy pizelle with rosewater ice cream
and a honey-based sauce, lingering over soothing pots of tea (served in
handsome cast-iron kettles) and in no hurry to leave (why would anyone
be?). It seemed to us that Heirloom is not only a gem for New Yorkers
but a perfect place to take visiting guests; its style, originality,
quality, and vision (both culinary and ecological) represent the best of
what this city can offer.

Review By: Pamela Grossman

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Chef: Amanda Cohen

Entree Price: $20-25

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