The Heirloom LA food truck (@wpheirloomla) is something of a paradox, nudging at the boundaries of mobile cuisine while undercutting its basic precepts. Street food should be simple. It should be quick and easy to scarf down. And it should definitely be cheap, or so the thinking goes. Heirloom LA is a truck of another sort, devoutly organic and putting into practice a "farm to plate" gospel. The result is a mild, layered iteration of California cuisine, circa 2011 -- with prices to match.
Many newbie food truck owners clearly have little experience as working cooks. That's no problem here. Matthew Poley's impressive background (he cooked under Gino Angellini and interned at Civitella del Lago in southwestern Umbria) means he actually knows how to run a line and serve food in a timely manner. Hallelujah!
The corn chowder ($4) is sweet and fragrant, an intense burst of flavor. (The nutty toasted pepitas sprinkled on top are a nice touch.) The brisket hash ($9), devoid of the smokey-ness that would endear it to barbecue fanatics, is nevertheless replete with large, perfectly cooked green peas, bright green, barely wilted spinach leaves and gorgeous kernels of yellow corn. Let no vegetable go overcooked.
The pièce de résistance is the famous lasagna cupcake. Sheets of pasta, dexterously layered in a cupcake form wrapped around confit artichoke or short ribs and cippolini onions are as pretty as they are tasty. They're also $7, probably a fair price for the amount of work that goes into them, but expensive for such a small treat.
Except for the soup, the portions are all small. Even with roasted potato chunks and a sunnyside egg, the hash feels like half a breakfast. Chicken and waffles (here made with Jidori chicken, naturally) means two small waffle triangles and a single chicken finger. Sure, it's drizzled with crème fraiche and a lovely blueberry syrup, but it's an appetizer-sized dish selling for $9. At Heirloom LA, a meal for two people could easily cost $25-30. Why not just go to a sit-down restaurant?
Heirloom LA isn't the first truck to drive the organic/local route. Like the recently launched Flatiron Truck, it's definitely among the upper tier of nouveau food trucks, in both its ambition and its price-point. Even with Microsoft backing the truck, even though it mostly parks outside hip wine bars and upscale farmers markets, we have to wonder: Heirloom LA's food is sustainable, are its prices?