Archive for Sycamore Restaurant

SYCAMORE – BYOB (2nd Review)

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Sycamore (2nd Review), Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on March 24, 2011 by ballymote

 It had been almost a year since our last visit to Sycamore in Lansdowne, PA. It’s hard to believe that this dining spot, located within walking distance of where we all grew up, is now listed by Philadelphia Magazine as one of the Top 25 Restaurants in Philadelphia.

We had each enjoyed our previous meal there and I was anxious to pay even more attention now that Chef Sam Jacobson had achieved a certain notoriety.

 Our server, Jamie, had a terrific personality and was efficient and professional in seeing that we enjoyed our evening. We never felt rushed despite the fact that we spent way too much time chatting before even looking at the menu. It was a Wednesday evening which meant the Casual Prix Fixe Menu for $29.00 was available. It was essential that all five of us opt for that style of dining and in the end we decided to just order separately from the regular menu.

My wine for the evening was one that I had heard mentioned often on the wine boards but had never been able to find in any of our local wine shops. I think I finally found this one a few weeks ago at Wine Works in Marlton. It’s the 2008 Educated Guess, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. It’s hard to find Napa Valley cabs under $20.00 that deliver as much flavor as this one. I was totally impressed with the balance and structure of this wine and would score it 92 points and I am making a note to add more of this to my cellar.

After we placed our order Jamie brought us an amuse bouche, herb roasted wild boar with sweet potato ricotta puree. Excellent way to start a meal and certainly not something you have every day. There was not a lot of variety in our choices as four of the five selected the same appetizer.

 Everyone but myself chose the Pancetta and Goat Cheese Tart, phyllo crust and deep caramelized onions. I had this on our first visit and remember it as being wonderful and the four who silently devoured it seemed to be in complete agreement. I would have ordered this again except that I wanted to try what seemed like a very simple, basic dish.

I selected the Spahetti alla Carbonara, cream, bacon and locatelli.  This is absolutely a case of words not doing justice to the food. Trust me, I know it sounds simple but every morsel of this dish was absolute perfection on a fork. The flavors were subtle yet intense. The pasta prepared flawlessly. Quite possibly one of the best starters I have had in the past year. Kudos to the Chef!

 Once again four of the five of us went with the same entree, making for a dearth of pictures at this meal. Only Ange did not go with our selection of the Seared Sea Scallops, potato, chorizo and chantarelle hash, creamed swiss chard. Another simple dish turned into culinary magic at the hands of Chef Jacobson. Just an absolute delight. The hash seemed to be married to the scallops and every bite was enticingly good. It was becoming quite apparent as to how Sycamore had achieved its lofty ranking.

Ange was nice enough to share a taste of his entree, the 12oz. Green Meadow Farm Pork Chop, molasses, smoked paprika and cumin brined, French lentil and bacon cassoulet, local sauerkraut and apple butter gastrique. Beautiful presentation and sweet and spicy flavors dancing off of every bite of the tender chop. I couldn’t help but wonder if everything on the menu was as good as the two dishes our table had consumed.

 We still had room for dessert and our three choices were all very good. I think our favorite was the Sticky Toffee Pudding with dates, caramel sauce and fresh cream. Runner-up was the Rum Butterscotch Budino, graham cracker crust, creme fraiche and crisp local bacon. Last, but not least, was the Ginger Poached Pear, filled with dark chocolate orange ganache.

As we were finishing our meal Chef Jacobson stopped by to see how we felt about our dinner. He is understandably proud of what he has created at Sycamore and we shared with him how good we thought everything was tonight.

 Chef treated us to an extra dessert of sugar glazed clementines drizzled with chocolate and served with creme fraiche. They were yummy.

You could see by the crowd on a weekday evening that Sycamore is no longer a secret gem hidden in the Philly suburbs. If you have not yet had the pleasure of eating here I would strongly suggest adding it to your MUST DO list.

SYCAMORE RESTAURANT – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Sycamore Restaurant, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by ballymote

Sycamore Restaurant in Lansdowne, PA is not that hard to find. I managed to make a minor adventure out of it but a phone call from one of my dining companions guided me to the door. Tonight’s group was the childhood perv, oops, I mean, the guys I grew up with. We last met at Pesto on Broad Street a couple months back. This evening we were meeting at a BYOB within walking distance of our old neighborhood. Joining me were Steve J, Ange C. and Val S. Our fifth derelict, Frank D. was not feeling well and became a last-minute cancellation. Our wine for the evening were a couple of PA State Store Chairman’s Selections. The 2008 Pillar Box Red and the 2006 Clare Luce Abbey, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these reds showed lots of dark fruit, some pepper on the Shiraz blend and some smooth mocha on the Cabernet. I had previously had the Clare Luce Abbey at the Spring Mill Inn in Conshohocken back in 09. The Pillar Box has been one of my favorite QPR (quality/price/ratio) wines for many years and the crazy price that it is currently selling for as a Chairman’s Selection makes it a strong candidate for case purchase.

Our server, Elenore, wasn’t quite sure what to make of our group but to her credit she maintained her composure and good humor throughout the night.

Sycamore offers a Cheese Plate, a Charcuterie Plate and a Combo Plate  (3 cheese selections and two meats for $19.00) as an appetizer. The others all passed on appetizers but I ordered the Pancetta, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart, Phyllo Crust and Deep Carmelized Onion for $7.00.        

 It proved to be a nice flavor combination with the crispy tart and tangy cheese and a few dressed greens on the side. Entree selection was a little  more difficult. I was considering the chicken but it was served with scrambled eggs. There was another item that came with a fried egg. I am seeing this more and more and I have to confess I am not a fan of eggs with my dinner. In my mind, eggs are a breakfast item and should be limited to pre-noon meals. That’s just a personal flaw in my culinary make-up. Anyway, I quickly reduced my choices to the Scallops and the Crab Cakes.  Elenore helped me settle on the crab cakes and it turned out to be a good choice. Two perfectly cooked cakes low on filler and high on crab were joined by the Chipotle Like Jimaca Slaw and a delicious Roasted Pepper Remoulade that was a great marriage for the crab cake.  Ange C. also ordered the same dish and he too enjoyed his meal. Val opted for the Poussin, Deboned Young Chicken, Stuffed with Seasonal Greens, Mushrooms and Brie, Scrambled Eggs with Spring Asparagus. As I mentioned earlier, I would have been unable to get past the scrambled eggs but Val found his dish flavorful and nicely prepared. He even paused once in a while in his story-telling to eat a bite or two. I was proud that he was able to feed himself without his wife, Patty being there. The guy is making real progress.

Steve J. took time out from insinuating that my Grand Prize Win in the NCAA Tournament Pool run by my son, Brian was more than just good fortune and coincidence  to place an order for the lamb.  Cumin Dusted Lamb Steak, Artichoke Pistachio Pesto, Merguez and Spinach Fricassee. His medium well dish was just as he had requested and, although I think he still feels the pool was fixed, he at least did not go home hungry.

As with most of these “neighborhood” dinners, stories were told and retold for the 200th time and lots of laughs accompanied the meal. We split two of the desserts , the Banoffee Tart  (Banoffee = Banana and Toffee explained Elenore) and the Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Both of these were very good but I would give a slight edge to the cake which was extremely good.

Sycamore is a very nice BYOB with some great menu choices, a warm and welcoming atmosphere and very reasonably priced. The meal, with tax and tip was $41.00 per person.

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