Blue Heron, Sunderland

Have you ever gotten one bite into your first course at a new restaurant and immediately thought, “I can’t wait to come back here”?

That was my experience at the Blue Heron in Sunderland, Mass. last night, situated in a beautiful rural area just a few minutes from Amherst. It’s an inventive place, focused on local, organic and sustainably-raised ingredients. Though that’s nearly cliche these days, you can tell when a restaurant is truly dedicated to the cause. Just look at the long list of farms and purveyors from which they source. (And they’re also known for hosting actress Jane Lynch’s wedding in 2010!)

The menu is divided into bites/small plates and entrees. It took all my restraint (and thoughts of my recent tax payment to dear Uncle Sam) not to ask our server to just bring one of each.

Here’s a look at what we devoured, between our table of 3. I wish my photos were better. The food deserves it.

Pan-fried oysters with the most insanely delicious champagne butter sauce.

A local cheese plate with selections from Massachusetts and Vermont.

Steamed bun with Vietnamese fried chicken, hoisin and kimchi

Housemade lemon chive fettuccine with lobster

Mediterranean shellfish stew with a tomato and white wine broth, served over mascarpone polenta

Smoked Niman Ranch pork chop with caramelized apples and applejack brandy sauce

Valrhona chocolate pot de creme with ricotta doughnuts

This is easily in the lead for my best meal thus far of 2012. It was an experience, made even better by the beautiful weather, our fantastically helpful server who went out of her way to answer our questions in plenty of detail and of course, moments of hysterical laughter among good friends. Fabulous night.

Blue Heron Restaurant, 112 North Main Street, Sunderland, MA. 413-665-2102, Blue Heron Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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