It’s that time of year when I like to put Joplin in my rear-view mirror and head out on the open road to soak in that last blaze of fall color.
If you’re looking to do the same and want a good meal at the end of your journey, you might want to check out the Haven 55 Restaurant and Tavern at Pineville. I have been there three times — twice for dinner and once for lunch. This place gets two thumbs up for taste, consistency and service. It’s worth the 45-mile drive.
Haven 55 is located on the former site of the Havenhurst Mill, which was built in 1868 and operated until 1962 when it burned down. It overlooks Little Sugar Creek. The tables in the dining room give a spectacular view of the creek.
If you’re lucky like I was last week, you’ll get to see Mortimer, a blue heron that has become the restaurant’s mascot. He apparently is quite territorial since he won’t let another heron get near the place.
I got to meet Alan Bone, the chef, who runs the business along with his brother, Brian. More importantly, I got to meet their mother, Pam, who was helping out in the kitchen the day I visited. If you want to know something about somebody, talk to their mother.
It was very clear that she was proud of her sons and the success they have made of their business through hard work. Bone is working 80 hours a week as the executive chef. I learned that the Bone family goes way back in the history of Pineville.
Pam told me that Alan graduated at the top of his class among 150 students at the Orlando (Florida) Culinary Academy in 2005. He worked in Florida for a while before returning to McDonald County where he worked at some local restaurants. He also worked at a local nursing home where he gained a reputation for making institutional food palatable.
This struck a responsive chord with me. It brought to mind memories of my mother when she received nursing home care at the end of her life. Most of the time, the food she received was fine. But there were times when she would poke at her food with a fork and in all seriousness would ask me: “What is it?’’ Sometimes, I could not answer that question. If Alan Bone is capable of making nursing home food taste good, he is one special chef.
If you go there for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., you’ll get a choice of several sandwiches, ranging from a triple-decker club to a salmon BLT. They range in price from $7 to $8. Dinner is from 5 to 9 p.m. Here is where the menu excels.
There are three dishes I would like to recommend. The Haven 55 chicken is two lightly-breaded breasts sauteed in a baby portobello cream sauce. Next up is a breaded pork tenderloin in a blackberry and cardamom glace. Finally, the chicken Franco is two lightly-breaded breasts cooked with shallots, mushrooms and artichoke hearts in a sherry wine sauce. These dishes come with a vegetable and starch, and range in price from $16 to $18. What I want to try next is the salmon wrapped in cedar paper.
Among the dinner appetizers are mussels, crab cakes and fried green beans for $6 to $9. A glass of wine costs $5. As for dessert, Bone makes a spectacular creme brulee. Demand for this dessert is so great that you should order it when you order your entree to make sure you don’t miss out. Also of note, Haven 55 specializes in prime rib on Wednesday nights.
When the Havenhurst property became available in 2012, the Bone family got behind their sons. Family members have played significant roles in the operation of the business, from managing the books to serving tables to being the sous chef. They have made Havenhurst a popular spot again. For years, it was known as Shrimpman’s. One thing has clearly changed — gone are the dirty windows overlooking Little Sugar. Pam Bone admitted to me she gets “a little crazy when it comes to cleanliness.”
Here’s my suggestion for a perfect Saturday escape from Joplin. Make a reservation at Haven 55 — that’s always recommended. Spend part of your Saturday at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and then have dinner at Haven 55 on the way home. The museum is about a 25-minute drive from Pineville.
This might be too much culture, nature and fine dining for a person to experience in one day, so pace yourself.