Under Executive Chef Travis Bensink’s direction, Heirloom Restaurant at the Athenaeum Hotel is exploring new menu items, daily features and a small-plates menu.
Since Bensink took over the Athenaeum’s restaurant, he has pushed the boundaries of what is typically served at Chautauqua Institution.
“I’m huge into menu diversity,” Bensink said.
Heirloom has entrees that span cuisines and items that borrow flavors across genres. Bensink hopes this will allow any visitor to find a something he or she wants.
This season, new and experimental items — such as the curried cauliflower steak and the Moroccan chickpea stew — grace the menu. The curried cauliflower steak is two large steaks of cauliflower, cooked with cumin, curry and sesame on a bed of wilted greens and black rice. The Moroccan chickpea stew is a vegetarian dish that can be prepared vegan if the yogurt is not included.
Heirloom’s menu also features more traditional items. For example, patrons may try the beef bolognese, which is served with fresh pappardelle noodles. Its sauce takes six hours to prepare.
In addition to the daily menu, the restaurant offers daily specials. The Tuesday farm-to-table entrée embodies the spirit of Bensink’s vision for Heirloom and utilizes locally sourced ingredients. The Tuesday special has sold out every week of the season so far, Bensink said.
Heirloom is also now open later and has a tapas and small-plates menu.
“We needed to have something that can get people in and out quicker to get to a play on time,” Bensink said.
He also said that the porch is more conducive to a small-plates menu for guests who want to look over Chautauqua Lake and share a small meal and a glass of wine.
Tapas and lighter fare are available from 4:30 to 6 p.m. daily and 9 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.