Only for you, dear readers, would I force my family to leave Wellesley and cross over into the wilds of Sherborn. I know, I know, I’m the one who says, “Sherborn? They’re dead to us,” if anyone dares suggest that we expand our horizons just a tad by covering events in other towns. And strictly speaking, we mean it. It’s Wellesley or nothing for us. Except lately, with school ending and all, we’ve been feeling a little less strict, a bit more free, maybe downright relaxed, and ready to try something new.
So when Heritage of Sherborn, the replacement for The Sherborn Inn, which closed its doors in 2014, opened last week, we went for it. Yes, it involved driving from the safety and comfort of Wellesley Square all the way down Washington St. until it turns into Eliot St. in Natick. And as if that weren’t scary enough, from there we drove right through South Natick and into Sherborn, through the part of Route 16 with the swamp on either side until, at the end of this terrifying 5.5 mile, ten minute, traffic-free drive, we arrived at Heritage.
Heritage isn’t just a restaurant. It’s also an inn, a gastro-pub, a wedding reception and private parties destination, and a store that offers coffee, wine, and provisions. For today, I’ll stick to the restaurant side of things. According to owners Josh and Jennifer Ziskin, who also own La Morra in Brookline, Heritage features “…farm-inspired cuisine offering seasonal menus of fresh, local ingredients showcasing the rich flavors of New England.”
Did we have reservations to try out this fresh and local fare, the very young, very capable front-desk staff asked. We didn’t, and were told there would be a 20-minute wait. But in the time it took me to wander around the place, poking into back rooms and chatting up (or rather, distracting) staff, they seated us in the gastro-pub section of the restaurant.
You remember that part, it’s the section the Sherborn Inn used to call the pub, and it’s much unchanged and much altered all at the same time. The bar is still there, and it still offers beer, wine, and mixed drinks, and the tables are arranged as usual. What’s different in the gastro-pub and throughout the establishment is the light and bright, uncluttered feel to the space. Gone are the window treatments, dark paint, and the farm tools decorating the walls to remind you of Sherborn’s agrarian past and present. This new look, achieved without knocking down a single wall, is modernity itself, housed in a structure that dates from the 1700s.
And now, let’s get down to it: the food and the service.
Mirroring our positive experience in getting seated, our table service was also great. There was a lot of young friendly, and attentive staff on hand to fill water glasses, clear away dishes, and bring extra napkins. At the start of our meal, before we even noticed that the Pepsis were taking their sweet time getting to us, our server let us know that a glass fell and broke in the ice bin and they were dealing with that situation, and the sodas would be out ASAP.
When ordering drinks just remember, this is a gastro-pub. All that means is don’t go asking for a Bud Lite or some such. Think craft, small batch, quality refreshments. I was surprised they didn’t have lemonade available, the official alcohol-free drink of summer. Maybe next time.
Drinks in hand, our waiter took our order. For an appetizer, we tried the Kale and Chicken Nachos with apple-knocker cheddar, chive sour cream, and smoked salsa ($10). Nachos are something that we as a family have plenty of experience with. My kids like their nacho chips piled high, their cheese stringy, and everything else that comes with nachos served on the side. Any deviation from this formula means that the nachos get labelled “pretentious,” and so was the fate of those from The Heritage. The kale component of the dish didn’t help.
But there are two sides to every story, so I’ll chime in from an adult’s point of view. When I saw the lovely, tidy presentation of 3 large, circular nachos laid on the plate just so and covered with not too much cheese, I thought the following: 1) Hooray, no one is going to fill up on chips; 2) So that’s what real cheese looks like in a nachos app; 3) I always suspected that an appetizer-sized portion of nachos isn’t really supposed to look like it could feed a family of four for a week; 4) Yum. The smoked salsa is awesome.
Also on the appetizer menu, the chicken wings with barrel-aged hot sauce, gorgonzola cheese, and radishes ($12) might have suffered the same “pretentious” label, due to its involvement with gorgonzola cheese, but the hot sauce got respect and carried the dish into approval territory. The crisp radishes served with it were a nice switch from the usual side of raw carrots and celery.
On the entree side of things, the fish and chips battered with Stormalong Cider and served with German coleslaw ($18) was a good-sized portion, and the batter was light and crispy, while the fish was firm and mild.
Pan roasted hake with Dowse Orchard asparagus in a white wine and thyme sauce ($19) was a light meal and got a big thumbs up, as did the burger with local lettuce, Vermont cheddar, and radishes ($12).
Other things that looked enticing:
Steamed mussels ($12), Frito pie ($7 as a side), Pizzas ($14), and Shepherd’s pie, apparently reimagined and a staff fave ($21).
For now, the gastro-pub only is serving lunch and dinner. The main dining room is scheduled to open in July.
33 North Main St.
Sherborn, MA 01770
Gastro-pub hours are:
Also of interest…