While restaurants around North Texas have been moving toward producing even the smallest facets of their menu in-house, in suburbs like Frisco, it's not always been easy to find a restaurant that truly cooks from scratch. The Heritage Table looks to pioneer this trend in the area, and they've taken on this task with ambition. Along with making its egg-based dressings like mayonnaise and Caesar with eggs they pasteurize in-house, Heritage Table bakes all their own breads – from hamburger buns to breakfast biscuits – and are curing their own bacon and pastrami.
Buzzwords like “farm-to-table” and “made-in-house” are often exaggerated, but at The Heritage Table, their “scratch-kitchen” ethos is less a marketing ploy and more of a battle cry.
“Rather than making the assumption that something made from scratch is inherently better, we make our food from scratch in order to ensure its quality – meaning that at every point, we have control of the flavors and ingredients that go into every aspect of a dish or drink,” says owner Rich Vana. “This gives us the luxury – and responsibility – of knowing that we control exactly how our food tastes every time it gets to a table.”
Vana grew up in North Dallas, and after a three-year stint as a sportswriter in Temple, he returned to DFW and began Entrée, an online publication about food in DFW. In a recurring feature on the blog, Vana worked week-long stints in spots like The Grape, Lockhart Smokehouse, Local Yokel and Hypnotic Donuts and then wrote about the experience. While working in these establishments, Vana realized something about the people he was working with.
“After a dozen or so of these features, I realized that I was writing about people who were doing what I’d like to be doing,” he says.
In 2013, he started the Heritage Catering Co. As he gained clients and momentum, he kept his sights set on ultimately opening his own restaurant. After several years of searching for a location, Vana found a 100-year-old home in Frisco’s Old Downtown neighborhood.
“It took us several years to find the right location, but in retrospect, it was great experience getting to grow the catering company into what we did,” he says. “We chose Frisco because that’s where this house and its neighborhood were. The restaurant and the homes surrounding it have character and charm that can’t be built into something new. It’s just one of those places that feels like a neighborhood should.”
While lunch and dinner are full-service affairs, breakfast Tuesday through Friday is counter service. The bar area doubles as a coffee house serving coffees from Durham, North Carolina’s, Counter Culture Coffee, who, while well-renowned, contribute one of the few steps away from the restaurant’s hyper-local focus. In addition to espressos and lattes crafted with house-made syrups such as the popular lavender, available for the commuter crowd, they serve quick breakfast bites like breakfast tacos ($2.50) and klobasneks ($3.50-$4.50) that aren’t even mislabeled as kolaches. On the weekends, brunch is full-service and the coffee menu expands to include affagatos ($5) made with house-made ice cream, as well as coffee cocktails like the Café De Olla ($9.50), made with cold brew, brown sugar, rum and cinnamon.
The lunch and dinner menus mostly stay within a Southern-American motif but cover a lot of territory nonetheless. Lunch offerings range from handhelds like the HT Burger ($10) and a pastrami on sourdough rye ($11). Dinner ranges from an enormous chicken pot pie ($11) with tender, flavorful chicken and a thick, hearty gravy – although the crust could use a bit of seasoning – to steak frites ($26). Don’t skip dessert, like the seasonal apricot-strawberry fried pie ($5), which pairs perfectly with a coffee to end a meal.
Even the service at Heritage Table is above average – attentive, enthusiastic and pleasant. This is little surprise with Vana leading the show. During dinner service, he makes the rounds from table to table, checking in with diners.
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“I’ve heard it said that getting involved and being able to successfully stay in the hospitality industry requires a special kind of crazy,” Vana says. “I think it just requires a lot of empathy, a personality that lends itself to service, and the ability to accept criticism well.”
Moving forward, Vana wants to increase his partnerships with local farms and potentially add a biergarten on the back patio. Mostly though, he wants the Heritage Table to contribute to its neighborhood and help grow the cultural identity of Frisco.
“More than anything, that’s what we were looking for: a neighborhood where we make our best effort to contribute to an already-growing identity and culture,” Vana says. “When people walk to the restaurant for a drink, or for a burger or coffee or anything, that fills my heart. I just want us to be a part of a really great culture that I think this neighborhood is creating.”
The Heritage Table, 7110 Main St., Frisco