Chef David Viana Shines at Heirloom Kitchen

Duck breast
Chef David Viana
Chef David Viana

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Heirloom Kitchen, Chef’s Table & Cooking School, in Old Bridge, with a group of friends. The reason for our trek (over an hour from home) is Chef David Viana. Heirloom Kitchen previously focused on its cooking school, with Viana freelancing as a guest chef for the last year. Chef Viana’s now partnered with Heirloom Kitchen’s owner, Neilly Robinson, to host weekend dinners Fridays through Sundays, starting at 5 p.m., and to teach cooking classes during the week.

At Heirloom Kitchen, guests can choose to dine at the Chef’s Table, an island within an open kitchen, from which they can watch Chef Viana and Sous Chef Andrew Wolverton prepare and artfully present their dishes. There’s also communal seating at a 10-foot white oak farm table as well as more traditional dining options. We opted for front row seats at the Chef’s Table where we watched Chef Viana and his team transform pristine ingredients into one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory.

To start, our group enjoyed the Heirloom Bread—house made sourdough bread served with perfect, grassy, funky butter. I don’t recommend skipping this fabulous course.

Starters we enjoyed were the gem greens, the charred broccoli salad and the tuna panzanella salad. My motivation for ordering the gem salad was the smartly paired Caputo Brothers Mozzarella, of which I’m a die-hard fan. The salad also featured crumbs made from an everything bagel—fun and tasty with the right level of crunch. The charred broccoli salad is gilded with 15-month aged goat cheese, paprika sous vide stems and a flavor-packed broccoli salsa verde. The tuna panzanella salad offers bold, modern flavors and an interesting preparation, including one of my favorite ingredients: tender celery heart tops.

Our entrées included the lobster angnolotti, the crispy chicken and the duck breast. The agnolotti was complimented with sweet potato and sprout list and served in a rich lobster broth. The crispy chicken was served with sweet potato puree, steamed sweet potato dumplings, and Brussels sprouts in a sage jus—an outstanding dish. Our favorite, though, was the duck breast. We watched Chef Viana slowly render duck breasts until all the fat was released and the breasts were crispy, juicy, tender and perfect. We agreed this was some of the best duck we’ve had, prepared masterfully. For the end of our experience, Pastry Chef Jon Boot prepared our beautiful dessert. We thoroughly-enjoyed its dark chocolate coating, sprinkled with crunchy, chopped nuts.

Heirloom Kitchen is a BYO but also holds a California winery license from Domenico Winery, which offers fabulous California wines at retail pricing.

Chef Viana’s menu rotates weekly, and features modern, playful and seasonal takes on American classics. It’s a must-visit restaurant.

About David Viana

Among Chef Viana’s many accomplishments, was his recent post as executive chef at The Kitchen at Grove Station in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he earned a coveted three stars from the New York Times. His experience includes time working with many of the industry’s most recognizable chefs including Bobby Flay, Michael White, Anne Burrell and David Drake, in addition to his time working at heralded restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park, in New York City.

About Heirloom Kitchen

Heirloom Kitchen is an evolving culinary center. It is a farm-to-table restaurant and supper club (offering weekend dinner service in a open kitchen), a recreational cooking school, and a retail boutique with a carefully curated selection of kitchenwares and table-top items. The facility is committed to sourcing the finest quality ingredients and creating both elevated and interactive dining experiences.

Dinner Service: Friday to Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations can be made on Open Table or by calling 732-727-9444.

Heirloom Kitchen
3853 Route 516
Old Bridge