Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.
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Seasonal Serendipity Heritage Food & Drink Provides Twists on the Traditional By Amy Rogers | Photos by Ray Sepesy THE DECISION WAS GOING TO BE TRICKY: Open a new restaurant in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, in view of uptown skyscrapers, or set it 30 miles away in the tiny town of Waxhaw. Paul Verica, a 15-year Ballantyne resident, made a decision not everyone would understand. He chose Waxhaw for the small restaurant he would call Heritage Food & Drink. The accomplished chef had something to say and didn't want to blend into "the white noise" of the center city. And there's plenty to say this time of year, when warm-weather crops abound. A regional and seasonal Southern aesthetic means a single ingredient can drive an entire dish, such as spring's green garlic that starred in a rich panna cotta. Now it's time for lush tomatoes and sweet English peas to appear. "Summer is a playground," Verica explains. Eating with Our Eyes Despite its old-school-sounding name, Heritage uses modern and hi-tech methods: foams, fuid gels, compression and the vacuum-cooking technique known as "sous vide." Believing that "we eat with our eyes," kitchen artisans make each plate a visual pleasure. This seasonal — and often serendipitous — menu means ofering few regular items. In fact, Heritage has only one: deviled eggs that have been on the menu since opening day. Pastry chef Ashley Boyd is well known for her work at 300 East in Dilworth, and she shares her talents at Heritage. Here a standout dessert is her brown butter strawberry shortcake made from sponge cake, strawberry sorbet, brown butter crema and graham cracker crumble, topped with meringue and fresh fruit dice. Berries also make their way into summer cocktails, such as a concoction of fresh strawberry syrup, vodka, Chambord and St. Germain elderfower liqueur. An eclectic wine list highlights selections from small, family-owned American producers. Six rotating taps of N.C. beers refect the upsurge of brew culture across the state. Verica delights in the dynamic growth of the food community. He commends the work of groups such as the Piedmont Culinary Guild for bringing together and promoting the value of chefs, farmers and artisans. Family Flourish That attitude seems to be contagious. When 20-year-old Alex Verica expressed interest in learning the business a few years back, his father tried to talk him out of it. Failing that, Paul sent his son to work in the kitchens of restaurant colleagues. Alex excelled, so Paul brought his son on board at Heritage, where he rose from the ranks of dishwasher to prep cook to line cook. "I couldn't operate the business without him," his dad says today. "I'm so amazingly proud of him. It's fun to watch his leadership skills develop." Younger siblings Paige and Andrew haven't committed to the restaurant life — yet. Wife Kit's supporting role in the business is unofcial but essential. Our region's restaurant scene continues to evolve and mature, along with the community that supports it. In less than three years, Heritage has landed on several "Best of" lists. "We're about one thing and one thing only, and that's trying to be the best we can all the time," says Paul. For those who appreciate inven tive ways of interpreting traditional cuisine, that's truly a "heritage" worth celebrating. Heritage Food & Drink Dinner: Tuesday‑Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday Brunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 201 W. South Main Street Waxhaw, N.C. 28173 704‑843‑5236 www.heritagefoodanddrink.com Despite its old‑school‑ sounding name, Heritage uses modern and hi‑tech methods. Above: Deviled eggs have been on the menu since the restaurant opened. Right: Creative dishes include miso‑glazed duck with a bourbon teriyaki sauce and seasonal vegetables. BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 51 SUMMER 2016