Farm to Table

584. Sylvan Table – October 6, 2022 – Sylvan Lake, MI

Visiting Sylvan Table was a special experience! And not only because I visited it on a special day: my birthday. No, I would’ve gotten the warm-and-fuzzies from visiting this Sylvan Lake-based restaurant any day of the year.

There aren’t many restaurants like Sylvan Table. How many restaurants reside in a 300-year-old barn that was shipped from Metro Detroit to Maine? Or have both a wood-fired pizza oven AND grill? Or an on-site, three-acre farm including fruit trees and a beehive?

The restaurant’s singularity, its rustic beauty, and its dedication to locally-sourced ingredients and sustainability made it an obvious choice for my birthday dinner. And I was not disappointed by my visit. From the moment I walked onto Sylvan Table’s grounds and saw the gardens, greenhouses, and the barn, I was charmed.

Walking inside, I continued to be delighted by the two-story barn’s pretty, wood-plank interior bedecked with warm lighting, potted plants, and a welcoming fire in the glass-ceilinged solarium.

I dined on the restaurant’s second floor with my mom, who was celebrating my special day with me. Our friendly, attentive server gave us excellent service and patiently answered our questions about the menu.

Libation-wise, I was compelled to order the Peter Cocktail. Mezcal infused with orange bitters, a cinnamon syrup, and carrot and lime juices AND served in a pink peppercorn-rimmed glass? Yes, please! I loved the drink’s rich flavors and the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. Other current cocktail offerings include the Apple Butter Manhattan (with house-made apple butter) and the Hey, Gourdgeous! with maple-barrel-finished bourbon, pumpkin shrub, and fall-forward spices. Sylvan Table’s full bar includes a weighty wine list, plus multiple Michigan-made beers and hard ciders. Mocktails and non-alcoholic beer options are also available.

Food-wise, we started by sharing a Prosciutto Flatbread, which was delicious with its rich, salty prosciutto and Parmesan complemented by peppery arugula, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. The delectably chewy, wood-fired dough was my favorite part.

My dinner, the Deckle Steak, was EXCEPTIONAL. This was one of the most richly flavored steaks I’ve ever had! The tender, juicy steak would have been amazing on its own, but it was enhanced by a vibrant chimichurri sauce. Roasted carrot and fingerling potatoes rounded out this wonderful meal.

Other intriguing entrée choices at the time of my visit were the Harvest Fettuccine with various veggies, herbs, lemon, and Parmesan and the Chicken Under a Brick: chicken seasoned with rosemary and lemon salt and cooked in the wood-fired oven.

Mom-made birthday cake was waiting for me, so I didn’t have dessert at Sylvan Table. But if I did, I most definitely would have gotten the Peach Upside-Down Cake with spruce tip gelato if it was still on the menu – or the Carrot Cake currently on offer.

I look forward to returning to Sylvan Table to see what inventive dishes its kitchen cooks up next using beautifully fresh ingredients from local farms and its own. This was my first 100 Places visit to Sylvan Lake, but I suspect it won’t be my last!

1819 Inverness St.

Sylvan Lake, MI 48320

www.sylvantable.com

154. Republic – December 10, 2015 – Detroit, MI

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20151210_174552I fell in love with Republic the moment I walked into it. It was so classy and lovely and grand. And I was simply there to have a drink! If it weren’t for the fact that I was about to attend a very special pop-up dinner next-door at Parks and Rec (which I’ll write about in my next post), I surely would’ve stayed for dinner. The food menu looked quite intriguing (current offerings include handmade pierogies, braised beef shortrib, and a confit rabbit leg accompanied by “tomato water cous-cous, smoked yogurt, roasted yellow beets”), and I love its farm-to-table approach. Plus, I’ve heard amazing things about its cuisine. And the drink I had was delightful. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, but it contained whiskey and was whimsically old-fashioned and was another component that made me feel grand. OK, perhaps the word “grand” subconsciously keeps coming to mind because Republic is located on Grand River Avenue and is located in the Grand Army of the Republic building, that massive, impressive, castle-y-looking behemoth of a building (complete with turrets!) that was recently restored after years of renovation work. Check out the before-and-after photos on gardetroit.org; they’re another example of the ultra-inspiring work that has gone on in recent years to restore Detroit to its former glory! “Former glory” – that’s not quite the right phrase. It’s more a melding of the old and the new, of rich history and contemporary creative exploration, and I find it just so . . . fucking awesome. It doesn’t get more eloquent than that.

1942 Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.republictaverndetroit.com