Long story short: Heritage Public House Brewery and Gastropub has great pub grub—now.
But the story behind the story? It wasn’t always that way.
In April veteran chef Josh Silvers took over the kitchen of the Santa Rosa bro-pub which had great beer, but somewhat lackluster dining. With 24 taps and their own recently-launched brewery, Bloodline Brewing, food wasn’t really the point.
Despite some early fumbles taking over the 3-year-old pub’s management, kitchen and interior, Silvers has found his groove. With newly-trained staff, in addition to a focus on the up-and-coming Bloodline beers made onsite, Heritage Public House (1901 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, heritagepublichousesr.com) is worth a second look. Here’s why…
Smoked Rocky chicken with bacon braised greens and maple sweet potato smash ($17.95): Silvers isn’t a subtle when it comes to big flavors. While you may think “fall” for this dish, the smoked chicken is juicy and smoky and perched atop a pile of ‘taters that should come with a warning: Butter overload. They’re nutso good, any time of the year.
Pig Ears, For Real ($9): Pig ears done wrong aren’t fun. But done right? Heaven. “It’s just a carrier for salt and fat,” Silvers said of the thinly cut strips of toothsome pig ear that come with lime aioli for dipping. Crispy, and perfect with a hoppy beer.
Burrata & Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes ($12.95): Summer perfection on a plate means a creamy ball of fresh mozzarella, crunchy bread and ripe summer tomatoes fresh off the vine.
Open faced slow smoked brisket with crispy onion straws on Texas Toast ($14.95): We were heartbroken on an earlier visit when this screaming marquee of awesomeness failed to live up to the hype. This triple-threat sandwich is finally ready for its close-up, with melty sweet brisket, crispy onion straws piled on top, and thick, buttery Texas Toast as the base. Potato and cole slaw are picnic perfect.
Bone Marrow ($12.95): A newcomer to the menu under the “Odd Things” category, beef bones are roasted, split, and served with slices of toast and salt. An acquired taste, perhaps, but when you know, you know.
Malt ice cream with peanuts and caramel ($7): Sweet malt (part of the brewing process) mixed with ice cream, caramel and peanuts. Think sundae with a beery twist.
“Puffed Rice” Mac and Cheese ($7.95): Another initial miss, now a hit. Buttery Rice Krispies are given a quick toast atop Josh’s killer mac and cheese. The man knows mac and cheese, and everybody know it.
Pork belly with lentils ($13.95): Pork is Josh’s oeuvre, transcending trends. So when he does pork belly, he does pork belly. Paired with black lentils you can almost believe you’re eating healthy.
Brewer’s Yeast Fries ($7): No. Frozen. Fries. Ever. You won’t find bags or boxes of frozen fries in any of Josh’s kitchens. He’s a bit of a nut about fresh Kennebec fries. That can mean some fluctuation in quality, by its very nature, but ours were crisp enough to stand up to the bowl of aioli we pretty much decimated.
The beer: Nice-price sippers like the California Livin’ Kolsch ($5), Beach weather saison (15oz $4) and Hay-Fuh Hefeweizen ($6) are perfect for the patio.
A mea culpa (priceless): It’s a rare chef who will admit a stumble, big or small. But ultimately it’s his neck on the line, and Josh doesn’t mince words when it comes to the close shave he got in taking over an existing kitchen and staff. Now, the bugs are worked out, and the food is worth another look. I’ll put my neck out on that one.
Heritage Public House Brewery and Gastropub: Open daily from 11:30a.m., 1901 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, heritagepublichousesr.com.