In the heart of downtown Kitchener-Waterloo you will find a new and hip eatery called Rhapsody Barrel Bar. Attached to Gypsy Lee Clothing store, owner Tammy Lawrence proudly explains that it houses everything she loves under one roof: clothing, whisky, food and music—a girl after my own heart.
What’s unique about Rhapsody’s offering is live music every night. Even Sunday Brunch offers acoustical music from 1- 4 pm. We had the opportunity to visit during Open Mic night and love that Tammy and entertainment director Dennis Napper are doing their part to support local talent.
A talented artist in his own right, Dennis is on site with the latest and greatest technology to engineer the sound perfectly. It was a pleasant surprise to enjoy dinner with the live music and still have a conversation without having to yell it over the table to my companion.
There is a great ambiance about this venue that could be due to the great music, perhaps because of the barn board wall or the beautiful custom made tables from a local sugar bush. These maple beauties are left unfilled showcasing the holes where the tree had been tapped in seasons past. I love a location that has a story to tell.
Tammy’s vision was to create a space where people can connect in a comfortable environment while enjoying live music and good eats. With that in mind, there is not one TV to be seen, no WiFi and a menu full of tapas and “shareables”. In a world full of fast technology and fast food, this was a refreshing change of pace.
We decided to share the Salty Pig Flatbread and Mountain Gouda Fonduta to start and both were wonderful. The flatbread had just the right amount of sweet barbecue sauce on the base with salty pork crackling and prosciutto as toppings.
The Fonduta, containing locally produced black truffle Gouda with a hint of champagne, is a must try. Served with crostini and Chef Don Doyle’s homemade garlic knots, this melty goodness is hard to share.
As our mains we opted for the crispy fish sliders on mini yorkies and the pork tenderloin medallions.
The fish sliders were of great quality and nicely battered, but housed on a mini Yorkshire pudding with remoulade on the side, I found it needed something more. A small measure of coleslaw to garnish the sliders would have been a great addition.
The panko herb crusted pork medallions entrée was delicious. Stacked on a homemade sauerkraut ricotta pancake garnished with maple apple butter sauce; this was a hearty yet lighter alternative for dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed this original creation.
Even though we managed to sample all of that food, there’s always room for dessert! Homemade treats are created by Chef Don and include something for all palates. I opted for the tart and creamy Key Lime pie and my colleague chose the warm and moist Croissant Bread Pudding with caramel and great hints of cinnamon. Both desserts were worth the calories.
With seating for 210 comfortably and the opportunity for buy-outs for private parties, the possibilities from a planner’s perspective are endless. From wine and whisky tastings, to art shows and private concerts, Rhapsody Barrel Bar is a new and unique venue I’m adding to the top of my list.
—Tara Wylie, CMP is a certified marketing specialist and has been a corporate planner for more than 10 years. She is always on the search for new, innovative and unique meal experiences for her clients and guests within southwestern Ontario. Tara’s love of food came at an early age, which she credits to her Mom’s cooking and encouragement to always taste new foods.