I met Chef Richard Bustos a few years ago when he launched a bistro at a Temecula winery. His wife Monica was hostess and Richard was the creative force in the kitchen. When he left due to creative differences, they launched Heart of the House catering with the goal one day to open a restaurant. That day has come.
Heart of the House Restaurant and Lounge is open in Temecula’s Tower Plaza in the old Scarcella’s location. They invited me to check out the place and try a few items from the menu during their soft open. To say I was was impressed would be a gross understatement. The menu is broken into four parts: Starters, Sides, Salads and Entrées and I got a taste from each section plus dessert.
They started me out with shrimp ceviche with house made tortilla chips. I love ceviche and this one was excellent with plenty of citrus and the shrimp shining through. The house made chips were just the right tool to scoop it up with. I enjoyed it with a Benziger Sauvignon Blanc from the well thought out wine list that also features a good number of Temecula wines. That was followed by the trio of dips with pita; a delicious hummus, sun-dried tomato feta and an olive tapenade paired with Wiens Temecula Fumé Blanc. The last item I tasted from the Starters menu was 3 Haute Toasts; Humboldt Fog Blue Cheese with Serrano ham and a blueberry compote, house made deviled ham with arugula topped with a quail egg and mushroom, artichoke, caramelized onions and brie paired with Greystone Napa Valley Chardonnay. The presentation of each plate was stunning and each bite was sublime.
From the sides menu I had the smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese. This is the perfect comfort food and the smoked Gouda added the ideal touch. They paired this with Castle Rock Pinot Noir, an excellent choice. Now I began to worry. Each bite was so good, but where was I to put what lay ahead? I wasn’t even to the salads yet! Before I could have the salad, it was deemed a palate cleanser was in order, so I dove into a most refreshing Amarena cherry Zinfandel sorbet. Speaking of salad, I tasted the Wedge Done Right. What makes it right is the addition of Spanish chorizo, applewood smoked bacon, fresh tarragon, fried shallots. dried cranberries, toasted almonds and blue cheese dressing. With the salad I enjoyed Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
For the entrée I partook of a center cut top sirloin (normally 8 ounces, they took pity on me and served a much smaller cut) served with potato hash and chimichurri served with Cabernet Sauvignon from Ravage. Another beautifully plated and exceedingly delicious dish. No dessert was not an option so I sampled the chocolate stout crème brûlée made with Speak Easy Scarface imperial stout. This was the perfect way to top off an impeccable meal. For a restaurant that had literally just opened their doors, I was blown away. The food, presentation and service all seemed to come from a very well-oiled machine. I can’t wait to return.
Heart of the House is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 2 for lunch and from 5 to 9 for dinner. They offer Sunday brunch with bloody Marys and Mimosas starting at 10am. Sunday dinner runs 5 to 8. Every last Sunday of the month beginning September 25 will be Sabor Sunday with paella prepared on site, their house made sangria, tapas and live music. 27525 Ynez Road in Temecula’s Tower Plaza.