Quirky Sherman restaurant sells out on opening weekend

1 month ago

SHERMAN, Maine – Much to their amazement, the owners of the new Salted Butter Farm in Sherman sold out of nearly everything during their soft opening earlier this month. 

Restaurateurs and classically trained chefs Jon Purdy and Jenny MacArthur, who are married, thought they had plenty of food, not expecting such a response the first weekend in June before they officially opened to the public last week. But they seated all three dining rooms in the 1890 purple Victorian mansion completely full for the first three days.

“We sold out and we had to run back down to Bangor to buy food,” they both said almost in unison. “It was really kind of awesome and totally unexpected.” 

SHERMAN, Maine — June 13, 2024 — The Salted Butter Farm restaurant family just before opening on Thursday afternoon. From left top Jack Bastille, Jon Purdy, Jenny MacArthur, Brayden Riley and in front, twins Malcolm and Lillian Purdy. (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

So unexpected that they had only scheduled family – Jon and Jenny, her brother and sous chef Jack Bastille and their son Braydon Riley – to work. 

The new Salted Butter Farm restaurant on Gardiner Road is a warm and quirky place that brings nostalgia to life in its Alice in Wonderland mismatched world of vintage china from grandmothers, aunts and long-forgotten attics. It’s a place that flickers with lanterns in a hidden Harry Potter cupboard for kids, original Tiffany chandeliers, refurbished and off-beat light switches, a dazzling purple disco ball in the top turret and a hand-penned recipe wall dating back nearly a century. 

The four-page menu, working up to six, includes Sonoran Style Mexican dinners, from $13.95 to $18.95, gourmet pizza, from $11.95 to $17.95, and even a County pizza of mashed potatoes, bacon, mixed cheeses, scallions, sour cream, butter and gravy on the side. Appetizers, from $5 to $13.95, include a hummus plate with feta and tomatoes or warm Bavarian pretzel platter. Salads, from $6.75 to $15.95, can be basic or grand like the Hail Caesar or Farmer Jon is on a Diet. 

SHERMAN, Maine — June 13, 2024 — The Salted Butter Farm restaurant on Gardiner Street in Sherman opened on June 1 to much larger crowds than expected. Diners enjoy meals on a collection of mismatched vintage china. (Courtesy of Salted Butter Farm)

There are sandwiches from $14.95 to $17.95, or as they call them, sammishes such as the Here Piggy Piggy, pulled pork with house barbecue sauce and dry rub on a toasted roll with a choice of mac and cheese topping. For dessert, there’s tiramisu, Blueberries for Sal Cheesecake made with lemon curd and wild Maine blueberry sauce, or a gluten free brownie sundae. 

Most menu offerings can be prepared as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, they said, adding that MacArthur is a certified vegan chef. Everyone deserves real, good food and they are not ashamed that they use lots of real butter, they said. 

They have filed their petition for a liquor license that will get discussed at the upcoming select board meeting and will then go to a town vote. 

“We plan on carrying only Maine beers. Only cans and bottles from local Maine Breweries,” Jon said.

The couple, if approved for their license, plan to do fun events like a bourbon dinner, a Gatsby party for New Year’s Eve, Christmas in July and a luau in the middle of winter where everyone comes in Hawaiian shirts and they roast a pig. 

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary since they signed for the property that they had hoped to open before the snow flew last year. But their successful opening, nearly eight months later than expected, did not come easily for the two classically trained chefs. 

SHERMAN, Maine — June 13, 2024 — The Salted Butter Farm restaurant on Gardiner Street in Sherman opened on June 1. There are several dining areas in the restored Victorian mansion, some with local art for sale. (Courtesy of Salted Butter Farm)

They are still not operating at their full menu. 

Out in the yard sits the $7,000 custom-made venting system that was made for the wrong type of building and was manufactured so the venting came out on the wrong side from where they requested it. But because they accepted delivery, the company will not take it back.

So they had to write a menu that doesn’t include fried foods or anything that needs venting.

“I sat down and wrote a brand new menu and we’re adding to it every few days as the kitchen gets more comfortable,” Jenny said.

It took four months to get an electrician, then it was hard to find a plumber, the construction crew took another job in Houlton. They needed a brand new septic system. And when the last bathroom was installed, the kitchen flooded and they had to have all that replaced. The porch needed a new roof and they had to jack the whole carriage house up. 

One of the dining rooms had seven layers of wallpaper that they scraped down to the horsehair plaster. All the wood floors were black from decades of wear and had to be refinished. Plus, they replaced all the historic radiators and built a commercial kitchen. 

Still, they take each day in stride, it’s the only way, Jenny said. 

Today, Salted Butter Farm has more than 14,000 Facebook followers, double since the fall, and their original clients from the Newburgh Salted Butter Farm delivery days have stayed with them, excited about making the trip to Sherman for the new restaurant, they said.

“Once I cook for you, you are my family,” said Jenny, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked with a host of famed chefs including Julia Child, the Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.  “Love is the No. 1 ingredient and I cook with my heart.”

Salted Butter Farm restaurant is located at the ATV and snowmobile trail and is open Thursday through Monday.