Dining Out: Some hits, some misses at South Branch Bistro in Kemptville

South Branch Bistro
15 Clothier St. E., Kemptville, 613-258-3737,
Open: Weekdays and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Prices: Starters, $6 to $14
Access: steps to front door, but wheelchairs can enter via patio in the back

Twice this summer, my travels back to Ottawa have taken me past Kemptville around dinner time, and twice we’ve eaten in town at the South Branch Bistro.

The casual eatery and music venue opened almost a year ago in its circa-1880 stone building, replacing the decade-old The Branch Restaurant after chef-owner Bruce Enloe moved on to manage the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smiths Falls.

Kemptville resident and bistro co-owner Shelley Stinson told me this week that she and her partner Ken Baird quickly jumped at the chance to take over The Branch because they enjoyed coming to the business when Enloe owned it. She also told me that her bistro buys local ingredients for its dishes through the food hub, which is a middleman for producers and food businesses.

Just as the restaurant’s name has received a tweak, so too has its food. Under Enloe, dishes could go in a global, gastropub direction or reflect his smokey Texan roots. During my two visits, South Branch Bistro’s dishes have seemed a little more generic, with some gentle nods to New Orleans fare. In charge of the kitchen here for the last few months has been Layne Belcher, formerly of the Urban Cowboy restaurant in Riverside South.

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