Feast on Fabulous Fare at Malabar Farm Restaurant
Whenever I look at the portrait of the late Louis Bromfield that hangs above the fireplace at Malabar Farm Restaurant, I always wonder what he would think about its simply wonderful food, its cozy and relaxing atmosphere, and its extraordinary appeal to guests who range from Malabar Farm State Park tourists to couples celebrating a special occasion.
Bromfield no doubt would be pleased, because the restaurant fulfills one of his goals – serving French country-style fare in the 1820 brick house that was part of his famous Malabar Farm. “He was all about farm to table and using fresh, local ingredients to prepare food,” says restaurant owner Kim Williams.
Born and raised in Mansfield, Bromfield was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Hollywood screenwriter, and farmer who created Malabar Farm in the 1940s. It’s located in the lush and lovely countryside near Bromfield’s hometown and was a showplace for his pioneering ideas about sustainable agriculture. Bromfield also built a rambling, 32-room mansion called the Big House, and he loved to entertain movie stars such as Tyrone Power, James Cagney, and Joan Fontaine there on the farm. The Big House, in fact, is where Bromfield’s good friend Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall. After Bromfield died in 1956, Malabar Farm was turned into a unique state park that continues to be a working farm.
Not surprisingly, Malabar Farm is one of several nearby farms that supply Malabar Farm Restaurant with vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, and even maple syrup. Chef and co-owner Joe Motter takes full advantage of that bounty and cooks practically everything on the menu – including breads, soups, and pastas – from scratch.
Guests rave about the hamburgers made with locally procured beef and the Reubens that feature slow-roasted brisket and house-made sauerkraut, but I’m partial to the big, beautiful mixed greens house salad and filet mignon with garlicky mashed potatoes.
And for dessert, I usually order tiramisu, an irresistibly flavorful combination of chocolate-dipped ladyfingers and creamy ganache.
Even though Malabar Farm Restaurant is off-the-beaten path, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and make reservations, especially for events like the seasonal wine dinners, Harvest Dinner, or Valentine’s Wine Dinner. When you go, be sure to take time to look at the Bromfield and Malabar Farm memorabilia displayed throughout the restaurant. You’ll see copies of his books; pictures of Bromfield with celebrities, his family, and his beloved dogs; and a priceless photograph of starry-eyed Bogie and Bacall as newlyweds.
Malabar Farm Restaurant, 419-938-5205; www.malabarfarmrestaurant.com.
Malabar Farm State Park, 419-892-2784; www.malabarfarm.org.