Restaurant review: New fall menu at Heirloom Café maintains spot's best-place-to-eat-on-campus status

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Among the provocations of “Transfigurations,” the newest must-see Wexner Center show, are: a video in which Les Wexner does his best to appear humble about his Picasso collection (it’s Dora Maar-heavy); the absence of a transfigured face to transfigured face conversation among the works of Transfiguration’s three great featured artists — they mostly stew alone in their own rooms (except for the unusual pairing of the Giacomettis with the Rothenbergs); plus this apt-for-my-article, highlighted-on-a-wall quote from Dubuffet: “Without bread, we die of hunger, without art, we die of boredom.” This is where I transition from the commanding art in the Wex to the compelling food in the Wex, and that means Heirloom Cafe, i.e. the best place to eat on OSU’s campus.

Because of honorable aesthetics resulting in a strenuous-to-achieve certification as a zero waste facility, plus a staunch commitment to local and organic ingredients, Heirloom was one of only four local businesses recently awarded “Snail of Approval” praise from Slow Food Columbus.

Since you can’t chew “honorable,” it’s a good thing Heirloom’s flavor-packed food is praiseworthy too. Naturally, the cuisine at this counter-ordering overachiever varies with the seasons, giving me a convenient reason to check out some new,ushered-in-by-autumn offerings.

Soup’s on again, and a du jour bowl ($5.50) of a terrific vegan and gluten-free mushroom and fennel proved “dairy-bomb” and “mushroom soup” needn’t be synonymous. Sporting a translucent broth and lots of finely chopped vegetables, its woodsy and earthy opening notes evanesced into a light and licorice-y finish.

Instead of fatalistically lamenting the loss of vine-ripened tomatoes — or resorting to flavorless ones — Heirloom now offers a “BLP,” with the “P” standing for roasted red pepper strips. I especially liked how this sandwich ($8, includes a side, like the must-have “grainy” salad) bounces high-quality salty thick bacon slices off of a sweet “chili mayo.” Bonus: tangy and fantastic, house-baked whole wheat sourdough toast.

Another newbie is the excellent ham, broccoli and cheddar Quiche ($7, with a side like a lovely green salad). Housed within a dark and flaky whole wheat crust, its gentle and cheesy curds team up with broccoli chips to mediate big and potent chunks of wonderfully smoky Bluescreek Farms pigmeat.

Heirloom’s maple buttercream-frosted, pretty little pumpkin bread cakes ($3.50) are a timely replacement for its carrot cake. Topped with a bit of kicky pepita brittle, they provide more sweet evidence that, as long as you’re in the Wexner Center, you’ll never die of boredom or hunger.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Heirloom Café

?1871 N. High St., Campus