Sense of Place

New restaurant inside the Wexner offers palette of regional flavors

By  Denise Trowbridge For The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday September 20, 2011 8:13 AM


John and Kimberly Skaggs offer breakfast and lunch items throughout the day in their new restaurant inside the Wexner Center for the Arts. The focus will be on freshly made food using locally grown produce and other items from the region.

Foods locally grown and produced are a natural fit for the owners of Heirloom, the restaurant that opened at the Wexner Center for the Arts last week.

As the name suggests, ‘We plan to source ingredients locally and seasonally as much as possible, using small Ohio farms and heirloom vegetables to produce flavorful and affordable meals,’ said John Skaggs, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Kimberly.

Kimberly Skaggs’ first job was at an orchard. Her husband took a hiatus from his culinary career several years ago to grow and harvest organic vegetables at the North Ridge Organic Farm in Johnstown. The two also briefly operated their own organic farm.

“We loved it, but we decided to get back into the restaurant business,” he said.

The two have worked for Northstar Cafe, the Top Steakhouse, L’Antibes and RJ Snapper’s, among others. The two also currently own My Catered Table, a meal home-delivery service. The experiences have prepared them for the launch of their first full-scale restaurant and has informed Heirloom’s menu, which is simple but rich.

Breakfast options, which are served all day, include sweet rolls, homemade granola and yogurt; egg sandwiches with cheddar cheese served on wheat sourdough buns baked in-house; and the “ eye-opener” burrito consisting of eggs, potatoes, chorizo and cheddar cheese served on a wheat tortilla.

The three quiche options — spinach and feta, bacon and Swiss, and a quiche of the day — stand alone or come with a side of fresh fruit or greens.

Prices for breakfast items range from about $2 to $7.25.

The lunch menu consists of a handful of salads and sandwiches. The “spirugala” salad of spinach, arugula, cranberries, toasted pecans and goat cheese is priced at $8. The “big” salad of mixed greens, arugula, pasta, broccoli, sunflower seeds, raisins, carrots and cucumbers with a white balsamic and maple vinaigrette dressing is $8.25.

The “Gila monster” headlines the sandwich menu. It’s a combination of turkey meatloaf, green chile, pepper jack cheese and Southwestern aioli. Heirloom is serving Luna vegan burgers and a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich as well. They range in price from $5.75 to $9.

Ingredients come from Ohio businesses, such as nuts and peanut butter from Krema and coffee from Stauf’s, both of Grandview Heights; goat cheese from the Blue Jacket Dairy in Bellefontaine; and oats, cereal and grains from Stutzman Farms in Millersburg.

“I’m a firm believer that local is not only trendy, but becoming more and more of a necessity,” John Skaggs said. He likes being able to shake hands with the people who have grown or made the restaurant’s food. “It’s about having a connection with a local purveyor and promoting local businesses.

“Organic and sustainable will always be trending up or down,” he said, “but local is becoming the new normal.”

Heirloom is on the lower level of the Wexner Center and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.