Sycamore, Flat Branch & home-grown tomatoes


On our first day in Columbia, we had dinner at Sycamore in downtown. This is my in-laws’ favorite restaurant, and I had to promise I wouldn’t say anything mean about it – but honestly, it was wonderful. The menu is seasonal, with an emphasis on local products, the service is truly excellent, and they make a very decent martini. We started with a nicely done fried calamari plate, then we all split the green salad with goat cheese and roasted beets.


My mother-in-law got the gnocchi, which she really likes (she was very smitten by their autumn version with butternut squash). These were served with asparagus and shiitakes, and lots of garlic. I got to finish her leftovers for breakfast and they were extremely good, deceptively light and fluffy.


I’ve watched a number of other people eat trout lately and have been feeling a bit jealous, so when I saw the bacon-wrapped trout on the menu I went for it. It was completely boneless and very tasty, served with fresh corn and green beans.

I have no documentation on the pork tenderloin or short ribs that J and his father got, but they looked excellent, as were the desserts. My mother-in-law and I split a fresh ricotta cheesecake with blueberries that was distractingly yummy – I don’t even remember what anyone else got! I would be very happy to have this place as my neighborhood restaurant.


One other outing in Columbia that is well worth reporting was our visit to the Flat Branch Brewing Company, a fairly sizable pub in downtown by Flat Branch Creek. This place has nailed the brewpub thing: the ambiance is comfortable, the service is casual but competent, the beer is exceptional, and the food is very solid. I had catfish and chips for my lunch, and I was as happy as could be. J had meatloaf, and was pleased as well. We bought a pint glass for our collection.

catfish & chips

And I’m sorry to say we did not try the green chili beer. Maybe next time…


We also cooked a bit during our stay. The tomatoes were just getting going in the garden, so I made a pasta dish with lots of fresh red, yellow and cherry tomatoes and some good olive oil. It was a real pleasure to work with so many fresh tomatoes – not something that happens much at home. That incredible heat and humidity does make the vegetables happy, if not the humans.

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