Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Dinner at Heat
Working through a very full meal from the new Hillcrest restaurant.
Having enjoyed the happy hour menu enormously, I vowed to return to Heat Bar and Kitchen for a full meal. I liked the look of the dining room even more from the corner banquette seating. Incorporating a nightclub look without pushing it too far gives the dining room a good energy, like things are about to pop off any second.
Service, it’s worth noting, was excellent yet again. Attentive without being pushy, gracious without condescension, friendly without seeming forced. It was everything that service at a chic neighborhood bistro should be and future guests who sit in Ilan’s section (I hope I’ve spelled his name correctly) will no doubt be pleased.
Dinner opened with a cup of pureed celery soup ($3), which had a velvety texture and a delicate flavor. I’ve had celery on my mind since seeing it put to good use in the dessert at Swoon, and Heat’s employment was equally delightful, albeit much more conventional.
Trying once again the daily crudo ($5 during happy hour, otherwise $9), I discovered a salmon sashimi served over a bed of peppery greens and laced with some chimichurri sauce. The intensity of the greens and herbaceous dressing threatened to overwhelm the delicate salmon, but the acidic tang of sharply pickled carrots brought things back together.
Feeling hungry, I made my way through an order of charcuterie. Thickly-sliced capicola and some thinner slices of salami and sopressata deserve their $10 price tag. Getting a happy hour deal makes it all the sweeter. The pungent mustard didn’t seem to add much to the dish, but the milder, pickled golden raisins, which themselves had a touch of mustard seed, excelled.
Finally, to end an epic eating session after a long day, I went vegetarian with an order of risotto. The rice was plain, although creamy, and all the vegetabes had been laid on top. Sauteed maitake mushrooms formed the rich base of the dish, but a liberal use of peas, beans, asparagus, and pea sprouts added a green, vegetal depth to the otherwise excellent meatless dish.
If it’s not already plain, I found Heat extremely admirable. It’s easily the sharpest restaurant to open up in the neighborhood recently, outstripping nearby Great Maple in service and fare. If the kitchen can keep putting out this above-average food at average prices, I can only foresee success for Heat.
3797 Park Boulevard