If you wanted an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you would find an easy one by heading to Midway, Ky., a quaint small town and aesthetically pleasing neighbor of Lexington. But once you’re in Midway, you’ll find a visual and delectable escape that’s miles away from the Bluegrass State in the form of Heirloom Restaurant.
Heirloom opened at 125 E. Main St. back in 2006 by chef/owner Mark Wombles and his father, Henry. However, Mark said, he wanted to open a restaurant that didn’t feature the typical décor and Southern-accented dishes most Kentuckians are familiar with. One look and taste and you’ll know he accomplished his goal.
First of all, once you get in the door, you might think you’re in a different zip code. The muted cream-colored walls, textured, high-back booths and literally glowing bar area are accented with what appears to be white, curtain-sized cutouts your eyes just want to dive into to see what all you can find.
When it comes to the food, Chef Wombles puts an emphasis on using local, fresh seasonal ingredients. However, the inspiration of his creations lies elsewhere.
Despite being born in Florida and growing up in Lexington, Wombles’ culinary career was heavily influenced by the West Coast. Of course, graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and cooking at Aqua in San Fran under the tutelage of renowned chef Michael Mina certainly will leave an impression.
Chef Wombles describes his food as having a French foundation with California accents. The menu itself features a few salads and “enticements,” like the popular sautéed chicken livers with lemon ricotta raviolis and crème fraiche; and a trio of seafood dishes like a crab cake and an oyster of the day.
Some enticements aren’t on the menu but are worth requesting like a wonderful plate of agnolotti filled with a silky butternut squash filling and topped with crisp bacon crumbles, brown butter and sage.
Come entrée time, it’s hard to go wrong with best-sellers like the chili roasted tiger prawns with an almond-jasmine rice cake, yellow curry, red onion-frisee salad and basil aioli or a pan seared halibut with squid ink risotto and fried calamari salad.
While there’s an obvious affection for seafood, there’s land-bound protein like duck and a Pike Valley Farm organic buttermilk poached chicken that should be right up anyone’s alley.
And guess what? For red meat lovers like myself, you’ll reach some form of nirvana by trying Heirloom’s beef tenderloin. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, this rich dish is already irresistible with its porcini dry rub and malbec steak sauce, but side dishes like the sugary kick of the mashed sweet potatoes and a wonderfully crusted broccoli gratin make sure every bite is far from lackluster.
The trips to Midway don’t come often for this writer. But Heirloom Restaurant is an excuse for any Lexington food fanatic to take this short drive that pays off big for your taste buds.