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Malabar Farm Restaurant along I-71 nr Mansfield Ohio

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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
(419) 938-5205

Malabar Farm State Park link: http://www.malabarfarm.org/

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  1. I'm glad you liked it. I ate dinner there in April and I was not overly impressed. The items sounded great on the menu, but the tastes just didn't wow me at all.

    Any time you're in that area, I strongly recommend the Cabin, which is not far away (the mailing address is Ashland but it's just as close to Mansfield, not far from the intersection of I-71 and US-30).

    I reported on my disappointing dinner at the Malabar Farm Restaurant, as well as on my numerous wonderful meals at the Cabin, in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/361607

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thank you for your recommendation for the Cabin. I had read the recommendations for the Cabin in the link you provided and wanted to try that too, but of course we can't do everything in one trip. We will add it to our 'potentials' list for when we go back. We really enjoyed passing through the area and I know there are other touristy things to do around there for us..

      It is too bad your dinner at Malabar wasn't pleasing to you, but I can see how the place may not quite reach expectations for an evening dinner. I think of it more as a lunch or daytime place. For us it was the whole experience at the Malabar Inn and tour of the Farm Park that caught my fascination and that we liked. It was a beautiful day out and the food itself was pleasantly nice for us~~I had a green salad followed by filet cooked perfectly with some ratatouille. My husband had a nice pasta with fresh vegetables and a salad. And the Inn and its staff were such an unexpected travelers experience compared to usual highway alternatives.

      We always like to support independent establishments, especially those who are trying to do something a little different from the norm. We will definitely try the Cabin next time.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        I ate at Malabar Farm over a year ago and nothing left me wanting to go back. Just so-so. But I live fairly close so perhaps I shall give it another go.

        I've been to the Cabin just a few weeks ago and it was very good. I had duck with sweet potatoes, it was a nightly special and very good. My husband also took me there for a Mother Day's buffet and it was very good as well. The salads were the real stand out. They were very tasty and more unique than what one finds on one of the typical holiday buffets.

      2. I'm so sorry to hear you didnt have very good experiences at Malabar Restaurant. I do see though your posts are from 2009. Which makes me feels better. I work at this restaurant. have for almost 6 years and was there in 2009 although i was not cooking then. The Restaurant is currently under new ownership and is much more locally oriented then it ever was. We make everything fresh everyday and everything from scratch. We hope that you make it out again soon and try it again, I assure it will much better then previously!!!

        2 Replies
        1. re: therage33

          Thanks for the update. I don't get out to eat that often but I'll keep that in mind and try to get back there sometime soon.

        2. I'm glad to see this resurrected. We visit Malabar Farm a few times a year and have often wondered about the restaurant. We will give it a try next time we are down that way.

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