We’d noticed the stately 19th-century house often over the last 25 years, but took little notice of the restaurant located there on Skowhegan’s Madison Avenue. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this
travel column is finding jewels like Heritage House, hiding in plain sight!

 

Linda

The Heritage House has been in business for 25 years, but we didn’t know about it, even though we drive through Skowhegan often on our way to camp. So this column is for all of you who, like us, love old houses and appreciate an exquisite meal in a special atmosphere — and enjoy discovering it close-by.

I was amazed to find out that Cheri, the owner, has been here the whole time running the restaurant and their catering business. She still has her engaging “people personality,” is a hands-on owner and continues to have a smile on her face. You will probably meet her when you go, as she works every day and visits with customers to check on their experiences.

The rooms of this old homestead are small, and I noticed the care they took in seating parties in different rooms to honor a quiet dining experience. There is a larger room serving as a function room for meetings, and a bar as well.  

Most of the menu here is their original menu. “We do it really well, so they’ve stuck with those items,” our waitress Samantha says. She adds, “We are the Heritage House after all!”

The creativity on the menu comes through nightly dinner specials, which Samantha recites from memory with great pride. It’s downright impressive, because there are many items on the specials list! This is where you will find many of the seafood items, as they create their menu based on what is available fresh.

The Maine Crab cake was great. There were good spices, but you could still taste the fresh crab. It comes served with cocktail sauce, but we liked it on it’s own. The chef sent out an appetizer that is popular here — chicken tenderloins with a pistachio nut sauce. This appetizer was a winner for us both. We were told many order this for dinner and we can see why. It was unlike anything we’ve tried elsewhere. Simply delicious.

All entrees come with a salad, vegetable and a starch, making the entrée prices of $14-$21 a real bargain. I chose the Beef Medallions with a mushroom cream sauce. Perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth beef rested in a deliciously different sauce with mushrooms still holding their texture. The beef came served with perfectly cooked zucchini and an incredibly tasty rice pilaf. What a great meal!
Here’s a hint to all the men out there: If you are looking for a romantic dinner place with fantastic food, the Heritage House is your place.

George

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith dined here — often — and always sent David and Cheri Savage a thank you note. Now we know why.

Restaurants don’t stay open this long without doing a lot of things right. Heritage House is located in David’s grandfather’s house. Sitting there in a gorgeous candle-lighted room, I can imagine dining here with Sen. Smith, who inspired me to get involved in politics back in 1969.

David died four years ago, and Cheri and her two long-time chefs continue to offer a fine-dining experience at very reasonable prices. Most online reviews of Heritage House are effusive in their praise, but I read one from a guy who thought the restaurant’s prices were high. He must eat a lot at McDonald’s.

I first became acquainted with Heritage House when I spoke last spring at a conference on politics at Skowhegan’s Margaret Chase Smith Library. Cheri catered the luncheon, which was excellent.
Her catering business is very popular locally, but I was surprised to learn that she even caters events at the Rockport Opera House. Considering all the fine restaurants and caterers in that coastal area, the fact that Cheri is catering there is quite a tribute to the quality of her food and service.

Certainly, we found the quality of food and service at Heritage House to be very high,  starting with our server, Samantha, a young mother and college student who has been working here for five years. Her performance in reciting a very lengthy list of specials was Academy Award quality. And her knowledge of the food was thorough, a great help as we made our dinner choices.

I’m a bit of a snob about baked stuffed haddock, having suffered through too many servings of over-cooked fish and tasteless stuffing. But Samantha said this is their most popular dish, so I went with it. And I’m so glad I did. It was superb, one of the best I’ve ever eaten. The crabmeat stuffing was especially tasty.

Even so, I regretted having to pass up two presentations of one of my favorite fish — swordfish — especially in the Cajun blackened version I love. A perfectly baked potato (another choice that often disappoints me in other restaurants) and crispy vegetables added to my meal.

We enjoyed visiting with a couple from Cincinnati at a nearby table. They were traveling from New Hampshire’s White Mountains to Bar Harbor, and selected Heritage House for their on-the-road dinner after reading about it in their AAA guide. They also loved their meals.

Although we were stuffed (with leftovers already boxed and ready to take home), Samantha talked us into the Pumpkin Crisp, served warm with whipped cream and like most desserts, prepared here. It was thick and creamy, with a wonderful vanilla and toasted walnut sauce. Yummy.

How many restaurants welcome calls from customers who ask, “Can you have that special soup next weekend?” And then put it on the menu! Regulars call to ask questions like, “Do you have the filet tonight?”

We often drive by the Heritage House on our way to our north woods camp. Our goal in the future will be to time the trip to hit the fabulous luncheon buffet here, just $6.50 for the basic buffet or $8 for the buffet with hot entrees.

The Heritage House is no longer hiding in plain sight!

IF YOU GO . . .

HERITAGE HOUSE
ADDRESS: 182 Madison Ave.
Skowhegan
PHONE: 474-5100
ON THE WEB: www.hhrestaurant.com
HOURS: Lunch buffet Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner nightly from 5 to 9 p.m.

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.