If you check out the Facebook page of Carleton Place’s newest dining establishment, Boulton House (35 Mill St), you can be excused for thinking it came from humble roots when you look at the historic photo of its exterior taken in the horse and buggy era. This structure on the Mississippi River, just next door to Carleton Place’s town hall, enjoyed commercial and industrial uses for most of its life, including a stint as a water-powered mill. It’s appropriately named for its builder, Hugh Boulton. While it has been re-envisioned under two separate owner groups who established it as a dining facility, they both pale in comparison to what greets you when you walk through their artisan glass doors today.
Rod Scribner and his team have transformed what was once an overly dark décor into a warm and inviting space full of natural light with great views of the river and rapids. The interior is divided into two seating areas; one surrounding a libation bar, and one that’s a few steps higher into a dining room. There is also a patio between the building and the river’s edge for fair weather dining.
Unlike most restaurants that are open for two mealtimes (lunch and dinner), Boulton House doesn’t restrict its guests from ordering from either menu. So if you want a sandwich plate in the evening, it’s yours for the asking. The menu has a decidedly Italian flair with a wide array of mouth-watering pasta dishes. My wife and I visited on a recent Friday evening and I was impressed with décor choices that really improved the experience. For example, in the second level dining room, they chose high-back padded chairs with oversized wings which kept conversations private while still allowing you to enjoy the piped music.
We started our meal with a house bruschetta served on a softer bread and topped with fresh tomatoes. It was warm, and delicious. Deb chose the shrimp tagliatelle and I opted for the steak frites. Her generous serving came with a surprising large number of oversized shrimp on a bed of pasta cooked to perfection with a garlic alfredo sauce that added just the right amount of flavor. My beef was cooked to my requested medium rare and was tender and juicy. Our house Merlot and Pinot Grigio (10 oz size) were well selected companions for our meals. We finished things off by splitting Boulton’s take on a tiramisu dessert and tested out their espresso with no disappointments.
Their wine list is extensive for a newly established facility and their brew selections include some of the best local craft liquids from Perth Brewery and Stalwarts. Our total for the evening came to $99 before tip and represented great value for the money.
Boulton House is wheelchair accessible as the lower level has full dining seating and it’s open from 11:30 am to 10 pm Monday through Friday and to 11 pm on the weekends. Reservations are recommended and you can reach them at 613-492-3535.