A quick trip up highway 41, conveniently located in the Park Crossing Shopping Center on the corner of Fresno and Friant, awaits one of the best casual farm-to-table experiences I have enjoyed since moving back to the Central Valley from San Diego four years ago.  Heirloom Restaurant is the Valley’s newest clean-eats restaurant with a “farm-driven approach”, set in a large airy building with Instagram-worthy decor.  The huge parking lot directly in front of Heirloom makes accessibility easy, calming the dreaded parking anxiety experienced by most when visiting a new restaurant.

Photo via instagram.com/heirloom.eats(photo via Instagram.com/heirloom.eats)

Once inside, you would never know you were in a fast-casual restaurant were it not for the registers starring back at you as soon as you walk through the door, with the line snaking off to the right.  Don’t let this discourage you.  The line moves fast and there are not only menus to peruse, but a beautiful herb and lettuce wall to take in.  However, the star of the wait-in-line experience is the open kitchen.  There is something special about seeing the people who are making your meal, so I suggest watching the chefs and line cooks do their thing, while also observing their sanitation efforts.  I couldn’t help but notice gloves were worn, surfaces were clean, and stations were organized.

Photo via Instagram.com/heirloom.eats(photo via Instagram.com/heirloom.eats)

What sets Heirloom apart from other counter-service restaurants (like Panera), besides its dedication to locally sourced, mostly organic, high-quality ingredients, is that you don’t have to find your own table.  Once you’ve ordered your food you’re given a pager and taken to a table, where your server will bring your meal once it’s ready.  There are no stressful mad-dashes to find an open seat.

I took my 9-year-old daughter, Kyndall, along with me on this lunch outing, as I had heard Heirloom was especially kid-friendly.  I found that fact to be true several times during our Sunday afternoon lunch experience.  We decided to order an appetizer, entree, kids meal, dessert, a soda for her and a tea for me.

Photo via instagram.com/heirloom.eats(photo via Instagram.com/heirloom.eats)

Our total wait time between being seated and receiving our appetizer was 10 minutes exactly, which gave us enough time visit the restroom and grab a soda.

As someone who has worked in both the front and back of house in restaurants, I believe the bathroom is a great reflection of the overall cleanliness of an establishment.  Heirloom’s ladies room was extremely clean, smelled fresh, and the simple deep double farm sink and large mirror kept with the overall farm-to-table feel of the restaurant.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the soda offerings from Maine Root Soda, which uses natural pronounceable ingredients, is Fair Trade Certified, and free of high-fructose corn syrup.  If a kid must drink the occasional soda, this is the one they should have.  I ordered the green coconut passion house-made hand shaken iced tea that was lightly sweetened with agave and it was perfect.

Once our Grilled Artichoke with a lemon parmesan dressing appetizer arrived I noticed that it was nicely charred and the right temperature.  The dressing was memorable and complimented the artichoke flesh nicely.  If you order this, consider the char might get everywhere, as it did with my daughter, who I continuously had to tend to in-between bites, wiping the black residue from her hands.

Eight minutes after our appetizer arrived my Spinach & Bacon Farm Stand Salad with Ancho Crusted Tri Tip arrived. Unfortunately, Kyndall’s simple meal of a cheese quesadilla took another few minutes before it was served, which baffled me since a steak takes longer to cook than a quesadilla.  Any slight irritation I may have felt about this dissolved as soon as I took one bite of the steak.  Not only was the cook on it a perfect medium, but the flavor was incredible.  It was juicy, tender, and easily the best tri tip I have ever had in a restaurant.  The salad itself was less memorable than the steak, but still good and nicely dressed with a dijon vinaigrette.

photo by thealisonhoward.com

Kyndall’s quesadilla arrived while I was in my tri tip utopia (she continued snacking on the artichoke during the wait), served with a side of steamed broccoli and strawberry greek yogurt.  She ate every bite with zero complaint.  The kids portion (half a quesadilla with small sides) was appropriate for her age and size, but should your child be a little older or have a heartier appetite you may want to order something larger, especially if not enjoying an appetizer and dessert.

photo by thealisonhoward.com

As our lunch wound down we waited a full 20 minutes after we finished eating before having to flag down a server to ask for our dessert and a few boxes.  Our dessert, Soft Served Greek Yogurt topped with house-made baklava and local honey, finally arrived.  The presentation was nice and the portion was large for the $5.  Definitely enough for two to share.  The flavors were delicious and the topping was generous.  A cup of freshly brewed coffee would have complimented it well.

The Experience
Easily accessible with plenty of parking.  Beautiful environment and aesthetic.  Service was friendly, but very slow and aloof towards the end.
SCORE: 85%

Food Presentation
Plated appearance of food was beautiful.
SCORE: 99%

Sanitation
The restaurant was mostly clean and well-maintained.
SCORE: 95%

Sensory
The aroma and taste of the food was excellent.  Food was appropriately seasoned.  The texture and mouthfeel of the food was excellent.
SCORE: 99%

Overall Score: 94.5%

Kid Friendly: Yes

Date Night Worthy: For a casual date, yes

Special Diet Accommodations: I spoke with an employee who said they are able to provide gluten-free options, as well as modify the menu to accommodate low carb diets.  They deep fry certain menu items (such as the Popcorn Cauliflower appetizer) in nut-free oil.  They are aware of food allergy practices and preventing cross-contamination is top priority.  Their current menu does not indicate which items contain food allergens.

Contact Information:
Heirloom Restaurant
8398 N Fresno St.
Suite 101
Fresno, CA 93720
(559) 228-9735

Website: www.heirloom-eats.com
Instagram & Facebook: @heirloom.eats