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If there’s a method for turning “reduce, reuse, & recycle” into romance, Blue Heron Restaurant & Catering in Sunderland, MA has it down. Tucked away in Franklin County, among some of Massachusetts’ best farmlands, this eatery and caterer has taken sustainability to a new level — undoubtedly, making it a true MassFinds ‘hidden gem,’ and a can’t-miss dining experience in Western Massachusetts.
Executive Chef Deborah Snow and co-owner Barbara White live by a simple philosophy, borrowed from Deborah’s grandmother: “love your food, love your farmer.” While Deborah is inspired by memories, travel, and fusing flavors, their food is all made in-house with local, organic sources, creating an ever-changing seasonal menu.
With Blue Heron, ‘sustainability’ and ‘local’ starts with their space. In 2004, Barbara and Chef Deborah purchased and renovated the 150-year-old Sunderland Old Town Hall, turning the old library into a dining room, and town offices into kitchens; all the while, keeping as much original material and history as intact as possible.
The Restaurant’s “dream design team,” which featured a number of local, Franklin County businesses, combined bold colors, texture and lighting to embrace the Blue Heron theme of “spicy all-world cuisine.”
© Sandra Costello Photography 2013
© Sandra Costello Photography 2013
Featuring walls lined with works from local artists, Blue Heron’s space is both comfortingly intimate, and authentically “New England,” which creates a unique, new-meets-familiar aura where customers often recall dance recitals, town meetings, and even signing marriage licenses while they dine.
Painting of a farmland by local artist, Lewis Bryden. © Sandra Costello Photography 2013
Chef Deborah and Barbara see sustainability as not only the healthy and highest quality choice, but also as the best way to support the community. Fully-committed to supporting local agriculture, wherever and whenever possible, their produce, meat, and dairy come from a collection of local and regional sources.
Much of their menu is sourced from Franklin County itself and beyond, including:
- Red Fire Farm, Granby
- Kitchen Garden Farm, Sunderland, MA
- Smiarowski Farm, Sunderland, MA
- Atlas Farm in Deerfield, MA
- Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, MA
- Nourse Farms, Whately, MA
- Foxbard Farm, Shelburne Falls, MA
- Mapleline Farm, Hadley, MA
- Berkshire Brewing Co., South Deerfield, MA
- Diemand Farms, Wendell, MA
- Misty Knoll Farms, New Haven, VT
- Warm Colors Apiary, South Deerfield, MA;
And here’s what it looks like when it comes to life:
House-made ricotta (via Mapleline Farms cream) topped with local honeycomb (via Warm Colors Apiary), served with grilled bread dusted with fennel pollen and micro greens. © Sandra Costello Photography 2013
Grilled Creekstone Farms all-natural filet mignon with whipped potatoes, sautéed haricots verts and red wine demi-glaze. © Sandra Costello Photography 2013
Chocolate Truffle Torte with brandied cherries, and fresh whipped cream (gluten free, like many of their other menu items). © Sandra Costello Photography 2013
Their dynamic and diverse style lends itself well to catering, where Chef Deborah will work with you to design a custom menu that reflects your tastes with the highest of quality ingredients, which is available on-site and off. For more information on catering or on and off-site events, click here.
Also known as the Valley Advocate’s “Most Romantic” restaurant, and with Chef Deborah recently featured on “Best Chefs America,” there’s no better time to expand your palate with some local Massachusetts eats than now.
On Sunday’s you can enjoy “Blue Plate Specials,” a 3-course meal for $25 per person, or a “Burger & Oyster Night” on Wednesdays, which features a selection of gourmet burgers and half priced oysters on the half shell.
To start exploring more Massachusetts culinary adventures, click here.
Lead photo: © Melissa Blemur Photography