Like Hearth, the name Home is lovely, simple and evocative, and so is much of the food on offer at the namesake restaurant on Cornelia Street. That said, front and back of house make enough avoidable errors to leave me hoping that a better restaurant can be built on this fixer upper’s attractive foundation. Below are the strongest and weakest features from a recent visit.
1) Intriguing East Coast Wine List: I thoroughly enjoyed the rosés from Shinn Vineyards during a recent trip to the North Fork, and enjoyed them again at lunch at the proprietors’ New York restaurant. I’m still not completely sold on the Long Island wines that make up the bulk of Home’s list, especially the Cabernet Francs, but the whites I had were uniformly excellent. A non-LI Barboursville sauvignon blanc also confirmed the good things I’ve heard about Virginia wines and made me wonder if I’ll be seeing more of them soon. Markup was a standard double of retail, a relative bargain in the City and sufficient encouragement to take more risks on subsequent visits.
2) Surprise Patio in Back: This little seating area is one of the secret spots that you come to treasure in an open space-deprived city. I had no idea it awaited me at the front door and never would have thought to ask, except the restaurant was empty enough to encourage exploring. Nothing wrong with cozy rustic indoor seating, but out back is the place to be in the dog days of July and August.
3) Butterscotch Pudding a Homely Delight: Dessert saved the day as it so often can. Butterscotch pudding was rich but not gratuitously so and deeply flavored. Texture was on the right side of unctuous—close but not too close to grade school Cysco pudding. N.B. Avoid the burned popcorn espresso as a closer and you’ll go home without a bitter taste in your mouth.
4) Pacing Problems: A bugaboo of crowded restaurants; a surprise in an empty one. We were the first to sit, the first to give an order and the first to be served. Unfortunately, enthusiasm for the maiden order turned to heedless rushing as hot mains were fired too early and kept on too long. When a salad was sent back—wrong order—mac and cheese kept on cooking and cooking and cooking. Rubbery in the middle, paint crust texture on top, no good from start to finish. Unfortunately, tasted too close to Home-made, at least in my house.
5) Schwag Water Cress Salad: Like a cheap dime bag, it was lovely to look at, but stem heavy to a fault. Stuck between teeth but not to ribs. Well conceived, poorly executed. Garde-manger needs to step up. That said, cashews were a nice surprise and goat cheese did more than usual yeoman’s duty.