Rhapsody Barrel Bar is perhaps Kitchener’s chameleon restaurant

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Photo by Marco Pedri

Rhapsody Barrel Bar is an inconspicuous restaurant and music venue situated in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I describe the place as inconspicuous because it’s difficult to predict what this place can offer.

I remember walking by and feeling confused. The restaurant is attached to a clothing store, hosts its own café at the front and if you peer in, you can also see multiple event flyers posted on its door.

On a Saturday night, though, the place takes on a much more solid identity. Rhapsody Barrel Bar is the definition of dad-core and I can’t even lie: I dig it.

We arrived at the restaurant at around 7 p.m. and the hostess asked if we were here for dinner or music. That night, the restaurant was hosting a David Bowie tribute. Other nights you’ll find local bands and comedy shows on its stage.

The menu is simple and easily shareable. My date and I started with dry Cajun duck wings, which was served with a blueberry bourbon barbeque dip. These wings were substantial and full of flavour. The salty Cajun flavour paired nicely with the sweetness of the dip. Wings are usually served with ranch, but it was nice to see such a simple dish prepared with more effort.

The second item ordered was the Salty Pig Flatbread, which consisted of pulled pork, bacon, capicola and their three cheese blend. After the duck, I thought I’d be overwhelmed with this dish but I wasn’t. We were planning to take this dish to-go, after realizing we ordered too much food but after the first bite, we devoured the whole thing. Again, a simple pub staple like the flat bread, which is usually such an uninspiring dish, shines on its own at Rhapsody.

The main course we ordered was the bacon wrapped, mushroom and walnut stuffed chicken leg and thigh, with a mushroom risotto. The dish itself came with red bell peppers drizzled with red wine. The chicken was soft and baked and while there were a lot of flavours going on in this dish, you can taste all of them within the first bite.

All three dishes offered a lot for their value. The prices of their main course ranged from 14-32 dollars, with the steak being the most expensive. Since everything is affordable and shareable, it easily caters to groups. The restaurant also offers several vegetarian options. As for alcohol, the barrel offers sixteen different types of aged scotch, with the 18-year-old Highland Park being the oldest, ten different types of bourbon and seventeen options for whiskey.

While this venue can easily be forgotten by someone who is not aware of its place in the downtown community, once you take a step inside, you are automatically attune to the fact that Rhapsody Barrel Bar brings people together— with their weekly events, simple yet delicious food and their luxury options for alcohol.

All in all, it’s a place that caters groups, dates, lunch meetings and on-the-go professionals. But for a Saturday night, it’s perfect for a dad’s night out.

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