November 1, 2012

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): HERITAGE HOUSE: We found this gem hiding in plain sight

George and Linda Smith

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!

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Portland Chefs

We’re mining for gold — or at least good meals — in Margaret Hathaway’s new book, “Portland, Maine Chef’s Table.” I’m getting hungry just looking at the gorgeous photos by Karl Shatz.

Published recently by Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, this book profiles nearly 50 of Portland’s finest chefs and includes recipes from each one. Buon Appetito!

After ripping off the cardboard mailer, I rifled through the book quickly, looking for my favorite chefs and restaurants. Almost by magic, I opened the book first to page 104, Hot Suppa, a restaurant we love and have written about, where chef Moses Sabina and his brother Alec attract huge crowds for their amazing breakfasts, lunches and dinners. And YES! Hathaway got Moses to share his recipe for fried green tomatoes. Yummmmy!

Hathaway is the author of several books, including “Food Lovers Guide to Maine,” and Schatz is the director of Aurora Photos and leader of Slow Food Portland. You can read more about them and their activities at

While we aim our travel columns statewide, with a special focus on places within a 60-minute ride of Kennebec County, it’s impossible not to take notice of Portland’s spectacular culinary scene. Hathaway hit on a brilliant theme by linking the best Portland chefs to our ever-present desire to cook like they do.

And you don’t have to be a spectacular cook, like Linda, to try some of the recipes. Next up for me will be the Blue Spoon burger on a house-made bun with warm potato salad. OK, Lin will make the buns.
Having dined and written about Caiola, I am pretty certain Lin will soon be trying their recipe for wild mushroom bruschetta with pickled trumpet mushrooms. She may substitute the matsutake mushrooms she picked Saturday before last in the woods near our house.

Just to start, we’ve selected Grace, Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria, and Silly’s Restaurant, as Travelin Maine(rs) targets.

Get this book and select your own targets for 2013 dining adventures — inside and outside your own kitchen!



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.


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.

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