North Hero House Inn & Restaurant
- 3643 US Route 2, North Hero, VT, 05474
(Published in 7 Nights 2005-06)
Everybody wants a seat on the front porch at the North Hero House Inn and Restaurant — and it's not just for the winning waterfront view. The cheery, flower-filled dining room is a window on Champlain Islands history that has been perfectly preserved here, on a scenic stretch of Route 7. Along with the post office, courthouse, library and general store, the North Hero House is part of the town's "old and improved" 19th-century strip.
Owner Walt Blasberg was motivated in part by nostalgia when he bought and restored the 26-room inn in 1997. A New Jersey native, the fiftysomething investment manager has fond memories of the inn from summers he spent as a child on nearby Butler Island. He's managed to modernize the place without sacrificing traditions. Every room, equipped with satellite television, is named after a different local founding family.
The kitchen, too, has found a balance between comfort and innovation. "Surf and turf" lives on as part of the Friday night lobster buffet, but Chef Matt DeCiantis gets more creative with crustaceans on the regular dinner menu. New this summer is a lobster and shrimp tian, served with roasted tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and braised leeks. He also plans to add a duck dish to the ambitious list of entrées that includes cornmeal-crusted rainbow trout, maple-bourbon-glazed pork tenderloin and brick-pressed chicken with pancetta-sage pan sauce.
"People don't like things to change too much," says Blasberg. "They come in looking for that jumbo shrimp-cocktail appetizer, and they're crestfallen if it's not there." It still is, but DeCiantis has made sure there's also a fried calamari with lime-cilantro aioli, for those who want a little taste of the present with their past.