Just wanted to share this delightful dining experience we came upon while driving from Cleveland down to Cincinnati this month! So, if you have done the drive, you know the situation: highway dining choices seem limited to the chains and fast food joints (and other sketchy looking establishments), but I was looking at the Ohio map and saw that the Malabar State Park was just minutes off the exit and might be worth a stop for a wanna be 'foodie' like me! And we were pleasantly surprised.
This park is actually the site of Louis Bromfield's (the Pullitzer winning writer and friend of Hollywood film stars who re-invented himself as a reform agrarian back in the 40's and 50's) country estate and experimental farm. Since we think of ourselves as (sort of) foodies, we wanted to learn more about Bromfield's ideas so we took the wagon and 'Big House' tours given by the state park rangers of the 875 acre property. Then, since it was past time for lunch, we ambled down the farm lane to the Malabar Farm Restaurant which is outside the farm fences and operated by a private goup in partnership with the park.
There we enjoyed a very nice mid day dinner in the picturesque old stagecoach inn. The eclectic menu features produce and meats raised on the farm or from local sources, such as pasta with tomato and mushrooms, pork loin, filet steaks, ratatouille and fresh vegetables. The food is simple French style food (somewhat akin to Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" fair) and sandwiches. The wines were from the region, and they offered some of the popular regionally brewed beers, too. The sunny terraces provide a casual place outdoor lunches and refreshments.
While I wouldn't classify this place as a 'fine dining' experience, the dining room and terraces did offer good food and comfort for the travellers in this quaintly restored early 19th century stagecoach inn. The wait staff was helpful although somewhat inexperienced and the chef visited the tables to introduce himself. It seems like it would be a lovely place for a family Thanksgiving dinner or a bridal shower kind of event, too.
We will definitely stop in again when we are en route on I-71.
Please have a look at the links for pricing and details:
Malabar Farm Restaurant Link: http://www.malabarfarmrestaurant.com/
3645 Pleasant Valley Rd
Perrysville, OH 44864
Malabar Farm State Park link: http://www.malabarfarm.org/