What it’s like to eat at Michelin-starred Heritage

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Michelin-starred Heritage

Last week, Heritage earned Long Beach’s first Michelin star, a coveted distinction that has led to reservations at the restaurant to be fully booked six weeks out.

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Still, by moving quickly the night of Michelin’s announcement, I managed to snag an elusive reservation and went Thursday evening.

Each Michelin-starred restaurant is different, so there’s really no point in direct comparison, but here are a few things to know about dining at Heritage.

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First, it’s a dinner-only, tasting menu restaurant, which means the six-course meal is pre-set and there are no modifications (certain dietary or allergy restrictions can be accommodated if the restaurant is notified at least 48 hours in advance). The menu is posted on the website, but because ingredients are sourced fresh from local farmers’ markets and from Heritage Farm, the menu changes frequently. If an ingredient isn’t available that week, the restaurant pivots to what is available.

Farm beets, the first course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

On my night, the menu started with farm beets, pickled cucamelon (a fruit native to Mexico and found in South America that looks like a mini watermelon and tastes tart), and a cantaloupe granita. In simple terms, a granita is made with water, sugar, and in this case, cantaloupe, and it’s semi-frozen and flaked with a fork. It’s wildly refreshing, especially with the recent heat.

Cannonball cabbage, the second course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

Second was a charred slice of cabbage, sauerkraut soubise (French sauce), topped with micro-planed (grated) Parmesan cheese. There’s some brown butter in there as well. And while sauerkraut may initially make you wary if you don’t already love the fermented condiment, it’s tempered within the dish. You still get that tickle in your nose or back of your throat, but it isn’t overpowering. The cabbage is cooked but retains its crunch.

Seared Diver scallop, the third course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

The first of the protein dishes was a seared diver scallop with a corn and Dungeness crab sauce. I’ll be honest, this was a dish I wasn’t expecting to love because I tend to not favor scallops, but the scallop is meaty, not fishy. The corn and crab combo is light, sweet and rich. For people who don’t love seafood, this may be an adventurous course, but it is quite a beginner-friendly introduction to those ingredients.

Natural prime grilled ribeye, the fourth course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

Next was a grilled ribeye with short rib jam and a black garlic pomme puree (think dense, garlicky mashed potatoes). The meat was grilled rare (not blue rare), and if you generally eat your red meat grilled differently, don’t be afraid of the rare cook for this cut. It produces a piece of meat that’s easy to cut, chew and swallow.

Fig leaf ice cream, the fifth course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

Now to desserts: The first was a fig leaf ice cream served with cut pieces of fig and honeycomb crumble topped with bee pollen. If you’ve never had bee pollen, be aware it’s slightly bitter. And to round out the night was a pavlova (like a meringue—sweet, whipped egg whites) with a parsnip pastry cream and cherry.

Pavlova, the sixth course at Heritage restaurant, on July 27, 2023. Photo by Caitlin Antonios.

All six courses came with an optional wine pairing. The first course came with a rosé, the next two were white wines, the following two were reds (yes, with the ice cream course), and the meal was rounded out with a port wine from Portugal. With the exception of the port, all wines were made in California.

If you consider yourself a “wine person,” the wine pairing will no doubt be to your taste. And if you want to learn more about wine, Heritage’s knowledgable servers can speak to each wine’s notes and flavor profile. However, if wine isn’t necessarily your thing, it’s not a necessary element of the meal, which can stand alone.

The restaurant is small, but not stuffy, split into two sections, and people can dress casually. Small picture frames line the walls that give a homey feel, and if you’re not looking for it, you may miss the Michelin certificate hung inconspicuously on the wall beyond the bathroom next to the mouth of the kitchen.

The repurposed century-old craftsman house is lined with olive trees outside, and the dining room has plenty of natural light with an open kitchen. If you’re lucky to be seated at the bar overlooking the kitchen, as I was, you get a front row view of a well organized, quietly efficient team of cooks.

Knowing which fork to use when a full set of cutlery is before you can be intimidating, but Heritage solves that problem easily by giving diners a fresh set of only the tools you need in that moment right before each course. It’s a beginner-friendly approach to often one of the most intimidating aspects of fine dining.

And finally, the price.

The menu costs $110, and with the additional six wine pairings, it brings it up to $170 per person before tax and gratuity. That is not by any means a cheap meal. However, for reference, one-starred Santa Monica restaurant Citrin’s multi-course tasting menu costs $145 per person, with the option of supplemental courses like an $85 truffle egg. One-starred restaurant Sushi Inaba, temporarily located in Torrance, is omakase style, loosely translated to “I’ll leave it up to you,” meaning it’ll be multiple courses, the menu won’t be available ahead of time, and it will cost you $280 per person.

The inclusion of other restaurant price points are simply to add context for Heritage’s price, not a commentary. A place like Sushi Inaba will be serving round after round of pricey, fresh, valued cuts of fish, and the price reflects that. Heritage, meanwhile, shops from local farmers markets, cultivates produce like fig leaves for their fig leaf ice cream at their farm, and aims to create zero waste, and the price reflects that.

Reservations can be made online at OpenTable. Heritage is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 2030 E. Seventh Street.

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