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Heirloom, New Haven - anyone else been?

  • j

Hi everyone-

So I decided to give this new spot on Chapel a try. It's inside a very swanky new hotel--the Study. I have to say, I was really disappointed!
I thought the food was was really overpriced for what I got. For $30, I ordered the Amish chicken with root vegetables and herb gnocchi. The chicken was ok, but I only got (count 'em) 3 measly gnocchi and the few vegetables I got were tasteless.
I usually ask for tap water in restaurants, but it wasn't offered right off the bat--bottled was. At $7 a bottle. Now, I don't eat at seriously swanky places all the time (this was, sadly, an anniversary dinner) but is this the norm? $7? For Nestle bottled water?
I did order an oyster appetizer that was terrific, but that's about it. The waitress told us she thought oysters were "the most delicious of all the sea creatures." Not exactly what you want to hear after eating them.....sea creatures....Needless to say, that's a running joke in my house now.
The waitress was.....strange. Fake pretentious is the only way I can describe her. At one odd moment in the dinner, she chose to tell my dining companion and me that the chairs in the restaurant cost more than her rent...talk about uncomfortable! She did know exactly where the oysters were from--I'll give her that.

I had heard good things about this new place, but I really didn't enjoy myself. Am I alone here?

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  1. We have considered it, because it looks nice inside, but we have haunting memories of several meals at "Ol' Blue" (its name in a previous life). Makes me wonder if they are just putting expensive lipstick on the pig....(?)

    1. The place is brand new and working out some kinks, but I had a great lunch there recently. Beautiful, bacony tomato soup and I enjoyed that chicken dish. Dessert was outstanding. And the amazing decor is worth a bit more on the check--you've got to check this place out. So far beyond the previous place you can't even image. Way beyond anything else in NH. My waiter was good and the staff seemed to make a real effort. Give it another try, JRW. Next time I have NYers visiting, I'm taking them there.

      3 Replies
      1. re: newhavener07

        I haven't eaten there, but I have to agree on the decor. The design community was buzzing about the new hotel for much of the late summer and early fall. It's one of the few interior spaces in the city that is not ugly, not plain, and not outdated. Hopefully they get their acts together on the food so it can join the many places to eat that are not gross, not bland, and not outdated.

        1. re: danieljdwyer

          It's pretty amazing in the quality of materials and the way it brings in the surrounding buildings. Wow.

        2. re: newhavener07

          Hmmm...I don't know--perhaps I just caught them on a bad night! It was only the 3rd week they were open....Looking back, I think I was more upset over the service than anything else. The food was good, but I still think it was overpriced (at least for me)

        3. I have been there on several occasions. Food was excellent, drinks were excellent!
          Sat at the bar with Rob the bartender this last visit. He was great! His recommendations for appetizer (Shrimp ravioli special), dinner (Monk fish) and dessert (Apple pear crisp) were fantastic. He was very attentive and professional (as were all the staff). His cocktails (Maker Manhattan and Espresso Martini) were delicious!
          IMHO fine dining is about taste and presentation. Not huge portions. You should leave full, but wanting more. And let me tell you I will go back and visit Rob for his cocktails and a nice relaxing dinner at the bar.
          The prices may be a little expensive for some, but for the experience I had it was well worth every penny!
          There really isn't anything else like this in NH.

          1. We are going to check it out.
            More info:
            Located in The Study at Yale Hotel, serves modern American classics Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner every day. Food called "Contemporary American".
            Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine.
            Breakfast: Daily: 7:00am - 10:00am
            Lunch: Monday - Saturday: 11:30am - 2:30pm
            Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm, Sunday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm
            Brunch: Sunday: 11:30am - 3:00pm
            http://studyhotels.com (doesn't have any real info yet
            )Email: heirloomreservations@studyhotels.com
            Phone: (203) 503-3919

            I'm fascinated by the prospects of breakfast and lunch...

            1. I have also been there, not for dinner yet but to sit at the bar with my husband. I believe Rob was our bartender too. He suggested the dates wrapped in bacon. MMMM Yummy and at $4.00 dollars the price was right. The drinks he made were great. I had a wonderful Cosmo and my husband had a beer that he had never had before that the bartender highly recommended.
              The wines by the glass are really nice and I will go back to sample them.
              If the food is anything like the one appetizer we tried, we will be ecstatic!
              The website does need work, but you can go to opentable.com to make reservations for the restaurant which I think is cool.
              We will be back again.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nhfoodgirl

                I think the place is a work of art and to have a built in clientele from the hotel feeding the restaurant is a bonus. This place should do very well. It does take a few months to get the kinks out, so I expect that Heirloom will only get better. They spent a fortune building this place and it should be great. Hamhock mac & Cheese was terrific. I hop ethis place makes it.

                1. re: ElizabethHenton

                  Amen, EH. Everyone should try this place and get out and support our NH restaurants right now. I hate to sound like the chamber of commerce, but now is not the time to stay home and make a box of mac and cheese--unless you have to, of course. We serious eaters with jobs have to get out there and keep our ambitious restaurants alive.

              2. My first meal at Heirloom:
                We had lunch at Heirloom and it was a nice experience. SO had eaten lunch there before, without me (the inconsiderate b...), but she made it up to me. Her first time consisted of the chicken quesadillas and alsakan salmon. She thought the quesadillas were the best she has had anywhere! The salmon was excellent, too and the service was excellent.
                This last time, she had the hamburger and the "naked crab cake". The crab cake was unusual in that it seemed to be almost pure crab meat, pan fried with a rice flour coating, and crispy crunchy toasted rice flour crumbs (?) on top and then stacked with mandarin oranges, marinated tomato, watercress and pear. Kinda like a crab salad that is not mixed. We both liked it. Very different!
                She did not care for the burger.... It was not cooked properly and was just ordinary and nothing specially in flavor. It came on an egg bread roll. There was little about this burger that made it worth anything near $15!
                I had the clam chowder, which was very fresh and perfect. Even the corn semed to be cut from a fresh ear of corn. There were two, whole littleneck clams in it and I kept getting the strong applewood smoked bacon flavor as I hit the specks of bacon.
                I then had the shrimp ravioli. I thought I would just get ravioli but it came with two, huge, perfectly cooked shrimp on top. The homemade ravioli were incredible! They melted in my mouth. This was on a bed of onion cooked in orange juice. Just a spectacular plate.

                SO drank Writer's Block, a Cab blend, which was $12/glass and I had Wither Hills Sauvignon blanc at $9/glass. It is really nice to have the ability to get a high-end glass of wine.
                BTW, their cheapest bottle of red wine is $42! Lunch was $94 before tax or gratuity! However, Heirloom is doing a pretty good job of matching the finest food and service New Haven has to offer.
                Service was really good. Our only disappointment was with the burger and that they did not do anything about it. SO did not ask for another to be cooked. There was acknowlegement that it was miscooked... and nothing more was said or done.
                The interior is so not New Haven. It is New Yorkish... It is really pretty with the bare walnut floors and the large giclee art print on the back wall.
                We intend to try dinner! I sugest you try lunch and get treated royally. There is virtually nobody eating lunch there, yet.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Scargod

                  People who have followed my postings on this board know that I am a true fan of New Haven. I have lived here my whole life (IN New Haven, not the suburbs!) and revel in the profusion of top quality dining establishments.That being stated, I cannot help but to wonder what Heirloom is expecting to achieve in terms of success, especially given the current economy. While most of the top tier downtown restaurants continue to do reasonably well on Friday and Saturday nights, they are literally dying the rest of the week. People I know in the industry tell me that many prestigious dining establishments are seriously delinquent in paying their suppliers and a business broker stated to me that "90 percent of the downtown restaurants are either listed for sale or have expressed a desire to sell." Places that used to be packed 5 or 6 nights a week sit virtually empty most weeknights. While I applaud the fortitude and determination of the owners to make Heirloom a true dining destination, I wonder whether they have done any significant market research. WIth an ever diminishing business and professional community downtown, I just don't see any market whatsoever for $100 lunches, and the viability for $150 - $200 dinners continues to be diminished. While I am sure that the newness and the "buzz" will attract patrons, I really question whether, a few months down the road, Heirloom will have to make significant changes to put it more in line with pricing that seems to prevail at the other highly rated downtown eateries. From all accounts, at this point, they seem intent on "raising the bar" as far as prices are concerned. Whether this strategy will endure remains to be seen.

                  1. re: lsnhc

                    It is in a hotel, after all. This may not raise the bar for prices in New Haven. Prime 16 has $10 burgers, but they were better than at Heirloom.
                    I think JRW is not generally over critical but may have gone overboard on this post. I guess it would have been funny if she had of said a cow was her favorite mammal.
                    Anyway I haven't seen a female waitress yet and Michael was very competent and there was no wierdness.
                    Don't forget, they serve breakfast!

                    1. re: Scargod

                      Yes, I agree, Scargod, maybe a little overboard :) But it was more the service than anything else. It was a special occasion and I was disappointed! However, it's encouraging to hear other people are liking it. I will give it a second try.

                      1. re: JRW

                        We actually stayed at the hotel last night and had a very good experience. We did not get to eat in the restaurant because we had other plans, but my daughter got a room service cheeseburger and fries which was very tasty (and she enjoyed the egg bread).
                        The hotel itself is very cool, our room was great with a little study with leather chairs and wall to wall bookcases off of the bedroom.
                        The restaurant was quite empty both at dinnertime and in the morning. We had planned to eat breakfast there but ran out of time and had to leave. The menus for all 3 meals seemed on the short side, but I thought the prices were decent, especially for the room service menu where hotels usually kill you with extra fees. We will give the restaurant a try next time.

                        1. re: sibeats

                          Great! I forgot to mention that the manager said that there would be free garage parking for the restaurant, once they complete the restorations or improvements to the underground garage. Did you notice whether it was open yet?

                          1. re: Scargod

                            We actually parked on the street as it was pretty open when we arrived. They didn't mention the parking garage but when we were walking back I noticed that the big metal door was down, so I assume it's not functional yet.
                            They also had a little coffee bar in the lobby that looked very cute...we planned on getting late afternoon cappucino's and then the timing got away from us. We had lots of plans to try things here and we just managed to much them all up! Next time...

                2. I loved HEIRLOOM ! What a sexy space...Oh, and you should check out the PENTHOUSE.
                  What an incredible party space with ceiling to floor views of YALE sparkling below. oh, my god. So-o-o beautiful. Makes you want to sip Veuve Cliquot and nosh on caviar with blinis all night. This is a definite stop for us on NEW YEAR'S EVE. The bar in the restaurant is perfect for a glass of bubbly and some light bites. Will do!

                  1. My husband and I went back the other night for dinner and the restaurant was empty so we decided to eat at the bar. After talking to the bartender (It was Rob) he told us business was picking up and the hotel was doing very well, and there were many holiday parties booked over the next week.

                    Rob recommended the arugala salad and scallops for appetizers, monkfish and steak au poivre for dinner and we split the apple beniets. He also recommended a white wine for me and a red for my husband. Everything was cooked to perfection and delicious. The wine recommendation for each of us were perfect with our dinners. For after dinner drinks we had espresso martinis that were cold creamy and delicious.
                    Our over all experience was great. Our bill was well over $100.00, but as a treat for us it was worth it. We will be back, just not on a weekly basis for dinner. For drinks on the other hand I think we will be back again and again, sooner rather than later.

                    Come on New Haven, let's get this place on the map!

                    I will be telling all my friends and family this is the place to check out.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: nhfoodgirl

                      While the reviews on this board have been overwhelmingly positive, the fact still remains that their timing seems to be all wrong. Pretty much everybody who has written here has said that the place was significantly devoid of patrons when they were there, and while the food may be sublime, there are many of us - true foodies included - that have had to scale back our "upscale" dining due to the economy. As I have previously mentioned, many of New Haven's best dining destinations are suffering badly and while the newness of Heirloom will obviously attract interested diners, it is very difficult to spend the kind of money on dinners that we did when the economy was better.
                      The fact is, a restaurant cannot survive solely on weekend business, and I know of very few people who are regularly spending upwards of $150 - 200 per couple on dinner on ANY night!
                      I do wish them success, but I cannot help but to continue to question how successful they will be after the newness wears off.

                      1. re: lsnhc

                        I hear what you are saying and your negativity may well be justified. New Haven is blessed with Yale. I have read that when the economy is bad, people go to school. While people may tighten their belts and not all jobs are tied to, or benefit from, Yale, I cannot help but think the good, established restaurants will survive. Heirloom adds a new element to the equation and they are trying hard, it seems. Perhaps this competition will be good for all involved. Because they are expensive really changes nothing for folks who could not afford that price range in the first place. I could see it as a frustration that they are not great AND cheap, and within your budget. I don't think the area needs any more cheap and average places.
                        Heirloom is almost like an epicurial outpost on the edge of the "good" area of downtown. Heirloom and The Study Hotel is good for the area and I hope it encourages growth and investment in the neighborhood. Great food needs not be concentrated just around the green...

                        1. re: lsnhc

                          You've made this argument before and I'm sure there's some truth to it. I've noticed that some places in New Haven are already scaling prices down a bit. However, I don't see much point in accentuating the negative--if the place is good it will survive in some form. I'm sure we'll see some closings in the next year downtown, but that's the business. (Speaking as someone whose grandmother blew the family money on a Cape Cod restaurant...)

                          1. re: newhavener07

                            My husband and I went into Heirloom on Saturday night for a drink. We got there after 9:00 p.m. and the bar was empty and there was one table in the restaurant with diners. Rob was the bartender and he was very friendly. I wasn't sure which wine I wanted, so he let me "taste" a couple before I made my decision. We decided to have an appetizer and the one I really wanted (roasted baby artichokes) Rob told us was not available anymore. It was still on the chalkboard menu above the bar and on the printed menu, but he said it had been taken off the menu. So, we instead ordered the stuffed dates and seared scallops. Both were quite delicious. I think there were 5 or 6 dates and 2 large scallops. A few more people came in while we were eating our apps, but, for a Sat. night, it was pretty quiet. I hope they make it; it's a very nice place. We hope to go back for dinner one night soon.

                            1. re: joan mar

                              I stopped in on Saturday night around the same time for a drink. The bar, and dining room look great, but there was only a few people in the place compared to other New Haven Restaurants that night. The menu looked interesting, so I hope to go back for dinner.

                      2. My husband and I just came back from dinner tonight and our experience was FLAWLESS. Our waitress was very attentive and suggested a great glass of wine with dinner. I started with the arugula salad and my husband had the macaroni and cheese. Both were excellent. For main course I had the pork tenderloin which was phenomenal and my husband had the chicken which was excellent as well. For dessert I had the brownie a la mode and my husband had the apple donut wholes that were piping hot. Both were also amazing. I think my husband’s favorite part of the night was that they offered a selection of port wines including his favorite 30 yr tawny port. Although the portions were smaller than a typical restaurant, we were by no means hungry when we left! I agree when MTBiker said, you should leave full but wanting more. We are New Haven residents and frequent the downtown restaurants on a weekly basis (yes, we never cook!) and this experience definitely made the list of favorites. I actually had breakfast here when they just opened in late October when they were still getting out their kinks. This experience was SO much better it was night and day! They might still have some rough spots that JRW seemed to encounter but overall from our experience we were impressed and expect to return soon. We're looking forward to trying their brunch.

                        1. My husband and I went back dining room had people but not filled.
                          We just went for cocktails and Rob came up with two new ones for us. They were great! He explained to us that they were getting busier by the day and things were really looking positive for the restaurant. Then he gave us this wonderful tuna tar tar appetizer and said it was on the house as the chef was working on some new menu items..Just wanted to let everyone know...The food is great, the atmosphere is great, the music in the bar is great, and the staff is great! We had another wonderful evening and will be back again...It's nice to see this place filling up!

                          1. Dinner last night for SO and I. It was a wonderful meal. We started with single-malt scotches. I will not do that again.At $17 and $23 I could have added five bucks and had a bottle of Lagavulin for the home!
                            I had a sauvign blanc and SO had a Shiraz with our food. At $8 and 10 they were fairly priced. I started with fried, whole-bellied clams. The picture is with about half of them already devoured. They were fantastic and the best I have ever eaten, period! SO's potato salad wasn't. It was delicious, but not a salad at all. It was just perfectly cooked and slightly roasted, melt in your mouth, new, red potatoes with a very light dressing. 99% potatoes.Her two scallops (only one shown (oops, not again!), were very good with a weird fish flavored red, crisp and stringy decorative topping. Not sure what it was. The dish was called scallops and white beans. The beans were mashed, perhaps pureed, and very boring. Not deserving of being on the same plate as the wonderful scallops.
                            I had the seafood pasta. This was pasta with lemongrass and basil. It smelled good and tasted good. There were clams, mussels, grilled shrimp and scallops. This was a $26 plate. It was quite good with the exception of the gritty scallops and perhaps a few minutes too long under the heat lamps.
                            The bread is very good, too; made in-house as many things are.
                            Service was professional and crisp with barely a stumble, when I did not get my wine in a timely manner. It was a waitress in training, but she was still quite good. Still a cut above many good places.
                            Heirloom is not cheap, but inline with the better places in town. I think you will not be disappointed.

                            1. Picture of Heirloom, also referred to as "The Study". Two pictures are reflections from mirror that spans one wall. Very classy NY look. Nice bar. Nice music; perhaps a little techno-disco at times, but not invasive.

                              1. What a joke!
                                I sat with my SO and racked up a $180.00 bill (which is fine) had a nice bottle of wine , food was OK ( I think the quality has gone down hill since the last time I was there)

                                The restaurant and bar was filled with young, loud, and rude college students wearing baseball caps, torn shorts etc.
                                While we are dressed up and presentable and expecting a nice quite evening. This is not the dining experience that I had anticipated. I was extremely disappointed.
                                I asked the waitress what this was all about and she explained to me
                                that Mondays are $5.00 burger night and the new manager thought this is a good idea and there was a different Happy Hour/Daily Special everyday.

                                What's on Tuesday pitchers of beer, .10¢ wings, and buckets of peanuts to throw shells on the floor?!

                                In my humble opinion they are attracting the wrong crowd with these types of specials.

                                This place does not need gimmicky Happy Hour/Daily Specials to bring in the crowds.
                                I won't be back until that changes!

                                Come on Heirloom...You used to be competing with Union League...Now you are competing with McDonalds!

                                It's too bad because I do like it there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MTBiker

                                  That is so sad. We have enough kiddie places like you're describing with Bar, Prime 16 and Geronimo.
                                  If anything, they should gear their specials to an older crowd with food/dinner specials, wine tasting dinners or 1/2 price bottle of wine with dinner and not push the booze hours for tots.

                                  HOWEVER, I have not mentioned my last lunch there where a wine soaked man, around 60, was being a loudmouthed clown. Age or position doesn't stop people from being assholes.

                                2. We went last night for an early dinner before a play a the Yale Rep. We liked it well enough to go back, but it did not knock our socks off.

                                  I agree with other posters that this a chic space - the dowdy old restaurant is nowhere to be seen. We also enjoyed the people-watching along Chapel Street.

                                  Only one other party was in the dining room when we arrived at 6. By the time we left at 7:30, about 10 parties were dining. This is a big space to fill. The crowd was mostly people 40 to 60, with one mom and her college-age son. Bar was hopping but was not noisy, although I could do without the damn TVs in there, ruining the chic atmosphere.

                                  Our waitress was friendly and capable, even if I thought she was a doppleganger of the actress who played Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica.

                                  Starters included two enormous cocktails and some fabulous bread with a shattering crust and thyme olive oil. We had a fresh and zingy tomato soup and a clam chowder that was tasty but seemed a bit thin and in need of a bit more simmering (likely to improve as the eve wore on).

                                  Dinner was a mixed bag. The halibut plate was fabulous all around - a nice piece of fish, perfectly cooked with a bit of crusty pan searing and juicy inside. It came with an artichoke puree and some garlicky and bright swiss chard, not at all bitter like I've had elsewhere. The trout dish was another story: grilled to just-this-side-of-burnt and lacking flavor, with likewise lackluster wilted mizuna. It also came with a fennel slaw, which was the best part of the dish but seemed lost on this plate with nothing to anchor it down.

                                  At the urging of a friend, we ordered some truffle oil fries for the table. Nothing special there. We split the beignets for dessert - they were lovely - sweet and rich and playful.

                                  Bill was $112. The cocktails were so huge that we only got one glass of wine.

                                  Bottom line is I think I ordered badly with the trout. The menu is small, and nothing really grabbed me, so I went with something unusual. I'd like to try some red meat there next time.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: shoes

                                    I don't get it when you said you ordered badly. I think I probably would have sent it back. That would not be a crime in a place charging premium prices. I guess they still have some mixed results out of the kitchen. This is reminiscent of recent meals where one entree was very good while the other was out of sync with the preparation of the other entree, forgotten about or just screwed up in the making. It shouldn't happen in a slow kitchen. Behind the scenes, we do not know what kind of a room service business they do.

                                  2. Anyone else annoyed by the design? I hate those stupid, chintzy tables clogging the sidewalk. No one sits at them. If they wanted outdoor dining - which NH sorely needs - they should have planned for it in the restaurant design. Big french doors or something . . . ? I'd pay $$ for mediocre "New American" (this seems to be the consensus) if I could eat in a chic quasi-al-fresco space . . .

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: zoe p.

                                      I would not say that the consensus is that Heirloom is mediocre. I like the interior design though it is slightly sterile. I agree that the sidewalk tables (I've never seen occupied), are silly.

                                    2. You are not alone. My husband and I ate there for second time. We gave it a second try because we really like the ambiance and the modern design and look of the place. First time was a bummer - had horrible service, meals took about 40 min to get , etc. Second time which was just last week had great service (waitress name I still remember Lauren ? Loren ?) who offered her knowledge of the foods including a wonderful cheese and meat platter and her favorites. The food was good, not great (except for the cheese and meat platter) and pricey. I will probably not go back unless I have a lingering $150 hanging around.