The Skeptical Diner: Heidi’s

Were I to start a punk band, and were that band to record a track entitled “Geriatric Fuck Riot,” we’d shoot our video in Heidi’s at 8pm on Thursday night. The damned place was swamped — swarmed, really — with agitated well-heeled fifty-somethings practically moshing in the restaurant’s miserably conceived lounge / dining room / waiting area / changing room / flaming mess. Bodies were packed ass-to-ass, making the first two tables miserably besieged little islands of food service swimming in agitated patrons waiting to be seated.

My wife and I must have been overheard bitching passionately about our intended table (one of the aforementioned islands) because the restaurant’s impeccably attired host made a Broadway production out of how great our table (which was in the window of the restaurant’s slightly more sedate half) was going to be. And it would have, in fact, been quite a good place to sit had it not been for the table of eight slightly drunk intermittendly shrieking harridans sitting immediately behind us.

This was not Heidi’s fault. But maybe this isn’t a good place to eat on a busy night.

Insane seating/noise level/patron crush aside, the place is lovely. It’s the latest effort by Stewart Woodman (of Five), and located next to Blackbird at 50th and Bryant, which must lead to interesting and mutually beneficial overflow situations for both these charming, carefully considered little neighborhood bistro-style joints.

More so than any other place I’ve eaten at in recent memory, Heidi’s seems to rely on a two-part formula that goes like this: “Seasonal” + “Butter.” Buttered pappardelle with a confit of winter vegetables. Turnip ravioli with brown butter. Bread with butter. Fingerling potatoes a la something that is almost certainly butter and/or heavy cream. For the record, this is not a problem. Nothing we ordered tasted overly buttered, and just about everything tasted deliciously rich.

The pappardelle with vegetarian bolognese didn’t necessarily mimick the experience of a traditional bolognese, but there was a musky, earthy kick to the mushrooms that stood up to the richness of the noodles and made for a lovely one-two punch of butter and umami. Like the other entree we ordered — a forkably tender BBQ braised short rib — the pappardelle dish screamed: “Winter!” But in a good way. Warm. Rooty. Soothing. Spirit-buidling. Heidi’s knows what time it is, and it embraces that with its menu.

With entrees that range from $9 to $19, Heidi’s isn’t exactly value dining, but a combination of charming service, soulfully thoughtful (or thoughtfully soulful?) food and funky vintage ambience makes it a place worth haunting. Although maybe not at peak hours.

6 Comments so far

  1. Hannah V. (unregistered) on January 12th, 2008 @ 2:23 am

    Dear god man, I’m only human… Food-wise, sounds great.

  2. Max "Bunny" Sparber (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

    “Geriatric Fuck Riot” is an excellent song name.

  3. John Golden (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

    We had the exact same experience there. The Prada wearing host sat us at exactly the same table. With about 15 people standing around us and over 35 minutes to get water. We just got up and left before we could even order.

  4. geoff (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    we got the same table and the same hard sell from the maitre’d (“we’re only putting you here because you’re such an attractive group!”)…but once the door quieted down, the food and service were superb.

  5. george (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2008 @ 9:51 am

    Hey John, what do you have against Prada, or people that wear Prada, do they intimidate you? Insecure much-John?

  6. Erica M (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2008 @ 11:29 am


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