If you're a UVA student, odds are you've spent countless hours studying in Sheepdog Cafe. At the very least, you've stopped by for one of their mini donuts or a late-night cup of coffee. What many students don't realize, however, is that nine floors above them is Heirloom, a prime night-out location. 

Between the panoramic view of changing leaves and creative direction from new Executive Chef Frank Paris III, fall is in full swing at Heirloom. Chef Paris brings southern comfort to fall flavors at the Graduate Hotel’s hot rooftop restaurant and bar.

With that, here is why you need to try Heirloom at the Graduate as soon as you're done studying this week:

From the Bar...

Renee Spillane

Great weather brings the occasion for dining under stringed lights with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Heirloom’s indoor seating area and bar is cozy and intimate with a long bar that boasts modern, seasonal and local twists on classic cocktails. At Heirloom, the drinks receive an equal amount of attention to detail and refinement as the food.

The white wine Fall Sangria puts a crisp Virginian apple twist on the summertime favorite. Fresh mint is a central focus of the Blackberry Mojito and Julep. Take a trip to the garden for a sweet mix of strawberry and lavender aromas.

For those shy of a mix drink, sample local and international wines. Don't forget about beer: their draft beers change regularly according to craft blends, so it’s best to check with your server upon ordering.

From the Kitchen...

Renee Spillane

The new menu is divided into three sections, “to share,” “on a board,” or “plates.” You'll be surrounded by friend groups celebrating special occasions, family reunions and a networking cocktail hour. Heirloom caters to all of its customer groups with the same proposition: seasonal and warm flavors.

Renee Spillane

Be sure to ask your server for the nightly specials, because the Friday night loaded sweet potato was my personal favorite. 

Smeared with savory bacon jam, sprinkled with candied pecans and tangy blue cheese, and topped with toasted marshmallows, it bought me straight back to memories of Thanksgiving dinner. The innovative mix of flavors creates the perfect sweet, savory and salty bite, when you can manage to get a little bit of everything on your fork at once.

The truly talented chefs in Heirloom’s kitchen have full command over locally-sourced vegetables, continuing the Jeffersonian tradition of respecting Virginian agriculture. They know the secrets of roasting, searing, and pan-frying.

The use of char on shishito peppers adds depth to the mediterranean-inspired Beef appetizer. The salad is an explosion of expertise, from the savory tomato vinaigrette to the mix of raw, pickled and roasted vegetables.

Renee Spillane

Beyond that, they combine the right finishing elements to maximize each vegetable’s distinct earthy flavor. Salty chopped Virginia peanuts, sweet wine grapes and tangy mustard vinaigrette highlight the natural taste of Brussel sprouts.

Renee Spillane

The Roasted Chicken main plate that I chose featured carrots roasted to sweet perfection and surprisingly light cheesy grits smothered in a mushroom gravy. Another option that looked equally delicious was Trout with an array of greens, laced with almond brown butter.

To keep with The Corner classic and satisfy hungry students’ cravings for red meat, there are also Burger and Fries and Steak and Potatoes options.

Renee Spillane

Everyone knows that no celebration is complete without dessert. Sample the goat cheese Cheesecake, Virginia Chess pie, or follow my chocoholic lead with the Chocolate Ganache Tart featuring luscious vanilla bean ice cream, fresh raspberries and a hint of sea salt.

So, now what?

Renee Spillane

Heirloom is the best place on The Corner to celebrate. Open only for dinner, it has the perfect ambiance to bring parents, toast a birthday or commence the night of formals.

Every tradition can find its place at Heirloom, whether in food, drinks or just company high above the bustle of The Corner.

Be sure to stop by and catch the seasonal menu before all the leaves have fallen.