Contributor Melanie Marshall takes a scenic drive to the popular Rhubarb Haliburton restaurant to sample their great food and cottage country ambience
Eastbound through a rock cut with the warm tones of the setting sun flashing across our expectant faces as we head to Carnarvon. Reflections gently climbed late fall ice forming on the granite. Our destination? Rhubarb restaurant Haliburton.
Walking into the smell of a home cooked meal after a hike in the crisp woods fires an instant desire to dig in. A car ride through a living Group of Seven scene takes a slower route to build that hunger.
Glancing through Rhubarb’s online menu offerings on the passengers’ phone. Chatting about the pending meal on and off between the events of the day. In this gorgeous, rugged part of Ontario we sometimes miss the effect of its mood being injected into our dining experience. Mysterious grays and blues of growing shadows play off the glistening needles on the trees. These scenes eventually create an addiction to the cottage country landscape… and a heightened expectation of the meal to come.
Rhubarb Haliburton – From Nature to Table
Terri and Christopher Carl have embraced the character of the region at Rhubarb on Highway 118 East and Highway 35 in Minden, Haliburton. Set overlooking Mirror Lake, the transition from nature to table is seamless. With more linen and aroma, granted, but with no loss of the feeling that built in you during the ride.
You find yourself at ease, welcome. The plates heading to tables around you remind you of something else – that you suddenly can’t wait to eat! Our server was, unquestionably, professional, knowledgeable, and actively listened as we narrowed down our choices from the Rhubarb menu. Nico brings an old world charm and youthful enthusiasm to the table.
Our appetizer was unplanned, but the perfect start. In a world where garlic is the unimaginative go-to pairing for escargot, what a refreshing joy to the palette when this classic dish, in that oh so recognizable croc, arrived with an aromatic hint of citrus and the smoky flavour of aged gouda cheese.
So perfectly melted and grilled over plump escargots and mixed mushrooms, a dusting of parmesan for flair. What better to soak up the flavour in each vacant escargot space than lightly charred crostini? We spoke, seriously, of ordering it again as the main course!
Boshkung Brewing Beer and Daily Features
If you like a ‘rocks’ drink, you will appreciate the weight of the etched crystal lowball glass. If you are craving an award-winning beer, Rhubarb Haliburton is also the home of Boshkung Brewing Co. Flights of their four year-round beers are available, and once you decide your favourite, you can enjoy a glass or two. (These beers are also available on-tap at the neighboring Boshkung Social.)
Once you have a drink in hand and the appetizer has taken the edge off, you have the chance to look at your surroundings. Rustic chic décor overlooking Millpond, a cozy fireplace by your table, and the symmetry of draft taps at the classic bar. Really well done.
Have you ever been scared by the term ‘a modern twist’? My daily feature main course could easily have been misinterpreted as ‘fish and chips’, but in content only. My tempura rainbow was a shocking blend of moist and rich, yet so light it seemed like health food. Slightly crisp asparagus hidden in the same tempura. Inventive. Magic. Frites somehow light on the fork but rich without a hint of grease. You know that feeling when someone says, “May I try a bite?”, and inside your little voice is yelling “No!” This was such a moment.
Rhubarb Haliburton Gets a Big Thumbs Up!
Our second main was a tough choice, as the schnitzel came well recommended by Nico. He was not offended, though, when we went with another menu classic: a melt-in-your-mouth 5oz sirloin that proved there is no bad order at Rhubarb.
Grilled with a flame flavour rivalling any steakhouse on or off the Canadian Shield, served with crisp greens so fresh we wondered if they were locally grown as they source most of their ingredients. A needed balance to the decadence of the frites. Yes, we doubled down and felt no shame.
At this point we would normally refuse a dessert menu and take our leave. But having found nothing ‘normal’ to this point, we did what we had to do. We eased back in our leather tub chairs and went for the decadent chocolate cake. The only error of our ways was the decision to share a piece, battling fork-for-fork for each yummy bite.
Leaving a place and planning a trip back the minute you are in the car speak volumes about what Terri and Christopher have accomplished here. If you want to explore cottage country’s unique granite and pine backyard, without sacrificing culture, plug in Rhubarb Haliburton into your GPS. Just be prepared to feel moved to write your own review at the end of the drive.
Considering making a long weekend (or mid-week break!) of it? If so, be sure to check out our list of the top hotels and resorts in Haliburton.
LuxuryHaliburton Contributor Melanie Marshall is an account specialist at Dockside Publishing, as well as writer and sexual wellness professional focussing on educating, empowering, and entertaining women from the bedroom to the boardroom. Visit her website at https://muskokamelanie.com.
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