Judie’s Restaurant has been an institution in historic downtown Amherst since 1977. Judie’s concept of food has always been to try something new, be bold, and let food inspire you. She runs her restaurant as if holding a dinner party at her house, inviting her guests to explore combinations of flavors for which she has a passion. Oddly enough, for a place whose cuisine tends to the unusual, one of Judie’s signature items is the Popover, a traditional New England bread, which she creatively fills with everything from overstuffed sandwiches to serving them with homemade soups, stews and sautés.

Judie’s draws upon the talent of head chef Michael Babb to combine pan-seared Sea Scallops with an individual Tomato Tart Tatin where the baked half tomatoes create a delicious caramel that becomes a topping when inverted on puff pastry, sprinkled with goat cheese, drizzled with a fresh basil vinaigrette and a balsamic reduction. Or he may serve you his famous Lamb Shank served with a crisp, shredded Potato Pancake stuffed with grilled tomatoes, caramelized onions and mascarpone whipped potatoes, with a Burgundy Lamb Jus.

For lighter fare, Chef Babb offers Salmon Cakes, Lobster Littles, Beef Medallions served with a crispy Risotto Cake, a variety of quality appetizer options on the menu, as well as a fine selection of hand-cut New York Sirloins, seafood dishes, an excellent selection of vegetarian options, burgers and salads. Of course, some people just naturally gravitate to the sweeter side of life. Judie’s bakes fresh fruit pies daily, offers decadent chocolate creations, makes a mean Bananas Foster (to be shared for sure) and even has her pastry person making gluten free bundt cakes.

Having expanded Judie’s in 2007 to double the capacity, the bar grew too. It is a great place to have dinner or a quick afterwork beverage. Judie’s offers a fine selection of locally brewed draft beer, an interesting selection of wines by the glass/bottle, a perfectly chilled Martini, or a Sangria with at least 7 ingredients and chunks of fresh fruit.

Judie’s decor is quite like the menu, full of interesting and surprising elements. It is an ecclectic mix of styles, relying on Artist in Residence Donna Estabrooks to provide all the artwork (which she literally sells right off the walls) and the brightly painted tabletops. Judie’s philosophy has always been to give the customer a dining experience they’ll remember. Make it creative and tasty at a reasonable price, treat them with regard and respect, and they in kind will return again and again. Since 1977, they have been returning again and again.