Blushing stalks of rhubarb are one of the ultimate springtime ingredients. They add a tart pop to cocktails, sweet desserts, and even savory preparations. Here are 11 of the best rhubarb dishes and drinks to celebrate the season.
Bidwell, Washington, D.C.
Chef John Mooney fell in love with the combination of rhubarb and strawberry while he was working at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Every spring he revives the classic flavor partnership. This time, they arrive together in an enticing crumble. Make a reservation at Bidwell.
Benoit, New York, New York
Rhubarb shows up two ways in this fetching dessert. There’s rhubarb poached in elderflower syrup and a zingy rhubarb sorbet. These components are complemented with lemon-pepped wild strawberries and a creamy puff of fromage blanc, crème frâiche, whipped cream, and strawberry confit. Make a reservation at Benoit.
Tanta, Chicago, Illinois
Meet La Guapa. Floral and slightly effervescent, it features lavender-infused gin, lemon, rhubarb, and Cremant de Bourgogne. The only problem is that they don’t deliver. We could use at least five of these right now. Make a reservation at Tanta.
Iron Gate, Washington, D.C.
When you think of ravioli, rhubarb isn’t the first – or maybe even the fiftieth – accompaniment that comes to mind. That’s what makes chef Anthony Chittum’s pasta so unique. Ravioli plump with polenta and Taleggio are graced with a sweet-sour rhubarb agrodolce, walnuts, and vin cotto. Make a reservation at Iron Gate.
Aspen Kitchen, Aspen, Colorado
There are few dishes simpler and more satisfying than freshly made ricotta. Here it’s gussied up with rhubarb-fig compote, candied hazelnuts hiding a hint of heat courtesy of a little espelette pepper, and 12-year aged balsamic. Served on toasted sourdough, it’s a stellar spring-minded starter. Make a reservation at Aspen Kitchen.
Primehouse, Chicago, Illinois
Executive pastry chef Cristina Hendrickson elevates the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie. Surrounding the classic filling are half moons of rosé-poached rhubarb and dots of white chocolate crème frâiche pastry cream. It comes topped with a lemon tuile and is served with a quenelle of lemon ice cream. Make a reservation at Primehouse.
Saxon + Parole, New York, New York
It turns out Tom Collins has a cousin. The Rhubarb Collins features rhubarb cordial and rhubarb shrub with Aviation gin, pressed lemon, and Perrier. Just what we want to drink on a May day when the mercury creeps up. Make a reservation at Saxon + Parole.
Le Diplomate, Washington, D.C.
Here’s a five-star, four-level brunch standout. Between layers of creamy Pequea Valley yogurt, there’s a pink band of chamomile poached rhubarb and substrata of honeyed nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts). Make sure you plunge your spoon down until it hits the bottom, so you get all of the components in a single bite. Make a reservation at Le Diplomate.
Charlie Palmer Steak, New York, New York
This dish is foiesome. A torchon gets the triple treatment from rhubarb: diced, ribboned, and macerated, and in the sweet sauce boosted with rose champagne and strawberries. A taste of spring, Hudson Valley style. Make a reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak.
1789, Washington, D.C.
Rhubarb shrub amped with pink peppercorns and fresh thyme drive the fragrance and flavor of the Spring Garden cocktail. Bombay Sapphire and Dolin Blanc vermouth give it a boozy backbone. The perfect way to wind down on simmering spring evening. Make a reservation at 1789.
Trademark, New York, New York
These are not your average scones. Bolstered with cardamom-accented rhubarb, strawberry, and basil, they possess a surprising depth of flavor for the tricornered treats. They’re brushed with rhubarb simple syrup, which emphasizes the fruit’s singular tartness. Make a reservation at Trademark.
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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credit: Pierre Monetta (Benoit).