Compared to Apiary which I recently dined at, and Hearth has been compared to, I would say that the food (and decor) at Apriary was modern/trendy where Hearth is definitely cozier. Portion size/$ value was slightly better at Hearth for what we ordered.
When we arrived for our 7pm Sat evening reservation the restaurant was half full and we were seated immediately. By the time we left, the restaurant was bustling with most seats full at the bar, so if you are walking in on a weekend, show up on the early side.
Overall, the service was attentive but not stuffy - servers dressed in jeans, and the novel of a wine menu had a lot of tounge in cheek political commentary/top 10 lists (conservatives without a sense of humor may want to stick with water). The food was rustic, wintery (we went mid March), and flavorful with the caveat that the flavors at times seemed a little dated. Wouldn't rush to go back, but a solid choice if looking for something in that neighborhood.
We were very impressed with what a deal the Cucina Povera ('poor man's' price fixe) Hearth offerered for $35. The food was excellent and the ample portions made it almost too much to eat. Check the online menu before you go since it (subtly) changes often. For instance, the fixed menu is offering salad instead of soup to start, which may not be as filling.
One can opt to add the three course wine pairing ($15) to the Cucina Povera menu, however, we felt the wines tasted as cheap as the deal and would skip this next time.
Amuse - parsnip soup in a shotglass
Grilled Quail with Farro, Tomato and Quail Egg ($14) -
Apparently this is one of the workhorse dishes that has been on the menu forever. The quail was marinaded and very flavorful, nicely smoky from the flame. The well seasoned farro salad was unadorned save the (roasted?) quail egg and tomato on top which was delicious. Weirdly the salad was served cold, while all other components of the dish were warm, not a huge deal, just strange. The dish kind of moved into 1990's territory with a balsamic reduction drizzled everwhere, but other than that, it was very good. If they lose the sauce, the true flavors of the ingredients would shine.
Braised Veal Breast with Sweetbreads and Roast Cauliflower ($28) -
I was psyched for the sweetbreads but disappointed that there were only 2 crispy fried bite sized pieces that I almost mistook for the small cauliflower florettes. The veal was quite tender, and the braising sauce nicely spiced. Again, a well flavored dish, but in my opinion it was totally upstaged by my friends Braised Goat which was a part of the 'poor menu.'
Apple Cider Donuts with maple whipped cream ($11) -
Okay I'm just going to say it - DO NOT GET THESE DONUTS. After poring over reviews, these were apparently the thing to order. One of my friends laughed and said the ones at Union Sq farmers market were prob better (and much cheaper) but I pushed on, assured that stacks of praise for the donuts would not be wrong. Well, they were. (Now, there WAS ONE telltale review from 2004 that did not share the popular opinion. They said 'I don't get it.' I said, 2004 was a long time ago. Oh well.) Folks, don't get the donuts. The two 3.5" diameter cider donuts were on the dry side. The maple whipped cream was good, but a good cider donut does not need to rely on other accoutrements. Totally disappointing! Especially since their dessert menu has more interesting options.
My friend ordered the Cucina Povera Menu ($35) which was a really great deal. Lots of humble food with big flavor.
served piping hot in a large (normal main course sized) soupbowl, this soup was extremely comforting. Really well seasoned but not too salty.
Braised Goat with Rapini and Canellini Beans -
This was delicious, fall apart tender, musky goaty goodness. Nice large fist sized piece sitting in a pool of rich reduced braising liquid. Great comfort food.
Hazlenut Budino -
A lovely light counterpart to the menu's heavier dishes, this small pudding was not too rich at all. A few roasted hazelnuts on top provided great crunch and texture contrast.