Heirloom Café Now Open in the Mission


The lovely bar at Heirloom Café. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I had a chance to swing by and get a peek of the brand-new ~HEIRLOOM CAFÉ~ over the weekend, and what a lovely addition it is to this quiet part of Folsom Street. The charming corner location dates back to 1900, with fifteen-foot ceilings and original Douglas fir wood floors. The location sat vacant for 35 years, so it was quite the transformation. The simple room has a classic European style, with a William and Morris bird and vine wallpaper print in cream and gold, banquettes flanking the walls, wood tables, and an elegant floral display upon entering the room. There are 48 seats, with two communal tables that will be reserved for walk-ins—one seats eight, and the other up to twelve. There’s also a marble bar overlooking the (very) open kitchen, with four to five seats.

The owner is Boston-born Matt Straus, a recent transplant from Los Angeles, who has a serious passion for wine. His background includes working at Campanile as a server for two years, and as a wine director at Grace and at Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica for three years. He moved to San Francisco in 2008, and has worked as a sommelier and server at Jardinière, and a server at RN74. He went to cooking school for nine months, and is acting as the executive chef—he’ll be overseeing the menu, and working closely with his kitchen staff of four. The affordable and pared-down menu is simple and straightforward, meant to counterpoint the significant and deep wine program. Bistro-ish items include PEI mussels, roasted tomatoes, shallots, and sherry ($10); orechiette with sausage, rapini, yellow eye beans, and Parmesan ($14); and New York steak, long-cooked broccoli, and pine nuts ($18). There is also a three-course prix-fixe menu available for $50, and Urban Daddy reveals an off-the-menu (and limited quantity) burger topped with Epoisses.

Straus has been collecting wine for the past eight years, obsessively building a cellar that will now be (partially) shared with the rest of us. Heirloom will have 150-200 labels, with 21 available by the glass. But if you are game to explore deeper, what you’ll want to do is request his list of older wines. Hello, verticals of Qupe, Havens, and Hanzell, plus six vintages of Vieux Telegraphe. There are also lots of Burgundy and Bordeaux selections—but he’s holding some bottles from the 2005 vintage for at least another five years, so don’t ask.

Hours are Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm, and lunch will start the following week, on Fridays from 11:30am-2pm, and Sat 9am-2pm. Heirloom is scheduled to open tonight (Tuesday).