Taste of silver
Heritage Restaurant is a big space seating more than 220 people right by the arch downtown. The theme is all about the heritage of the Silver State, the cuisine of Northern Nevada reflecting the eclectic range of influences. There’s a nice big bar with a lot of fine booze and interesting artifacts placed between the bottles. The pilgrim behind this eatery is Chef Mark Estee, a member of the High Sierra Chefs Association and a guy who has made changing the wrap on food in these parts his mission and another level of his culinary passion.
The menus are fun, exciting and chic. Chefs Josh Berreman and Adam Bronson are the co-conspirators in this eatery. They’ve taken their potentate-of-pans gig to new levels. With Estee, they are a trio of gastronomic gonzo epicureans. I was there for a late lunch and the start of the happy hour.
I had basque braised beef tongue ($8) in a red sauce with new potatoes, tomatoes and pimento, a.k.a. paprika made from ground dried red chili peppers. This was savory with a smoky taste and a hint of heat. Stuffed cherry peppers ($9) filled with goat cheese, wrapped in applewood bacon and drizzled with saba—a liquid much like balsamic—had creamy centers which created a savory, tart explosion in my mouth finished with satisfying bacon and a hint of rich, tangy, dark vinegar.
Herb-roasted mushrooms ($10) sat atop a chunk of toast in a creamy, brandy sauce that was drawn in butter. Fungi never tasted so good, and every ingredient comes from local suppliers as often as possible. Housemade ramen ($15) with soba (wheat) noodles and chicken in a savory broth with a few fresh veggies and some hard boiled eggs was satisfying without being filling.
There’s a decent wine list ($32-$130) and a couple of dozen wines by-the-glass ($7-$12). I saw a 2012 Miner Rosato ($9) from Mendocino that worked with everything I tried. It has a Sangiovese grape, and it’s made using the traditional saignée method of bleeding off juice from freshly crushed red grapes. This dry, medium-bodied rosé shows crisp cherry-pomegranate flavors on the palate with outstanding berry concentration.
Now let’s transition to happy hour. Barkeep Nicholas Stanton had me to try new original cocktails. Camino Harvest was fresh Bosc pear juice, Tahoe Blue vodka, lemon juice, house made maple syrup Amaro, and Italian herb liqueur usually has a bittersweet flavor produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark and/or citrus peels in alcohol, homemade ginger beer and a sprinkle of cardamom on top. And you think Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga made music together? This was an amazing symphony of flavors that just kept building and building.
Number two newbie quaff was a Winnemucca Coffee. It's simple, Meletti Anisette Liqueur, a wonderful, elegant, licorice-flavored liqueur, almond-flavored honey, and a float of heavy cream. There are other handcrafted cocktails like a Passion Fruit Mimosa or Sangria Punch for $6. A pint of Session Larger and Porter from Hood River will cost you $4, mixed drinks for $5, and wine for $6 a glass.
I wouldn’t leave without dessert. Baked Nevada ($10) includes lemon sage ice cream, vanilla sponge, meringue and crispy sage. But the piñon tart ($8) was to be my downfall: Pine nuts caked into a caramel honey loaf in a butter tart shell drizzled with créme Fraiche with a side of Lavender ice cream atop graham cracker crust and a beehive comb chip of Al’s Honey from Carson City.
In this 150th year of the Battle Born, it’s seems appropriate that Estee and his crew shape a cuisine to echo our past by forging a future and creating a nouveau repast. Home means Nevada, and its heritage lives on.