Sylvan Table goes the extra acre for seasonality and sustainability

The obvious hyphen that comes to mind when trying the Sylvan table is “farm to table”.

Literally there is a 3 acre farm outside the restaurant which is beautiful. Clean rows of plants, flowers, greenery, a spherical water fountain, and a spacious all-weather patio outside the 300-year-old barn are the main attraction.

Inside the country building is an open kitchen where Executive Chef Chris Gadulka and his staff can be seen amid open flames. They are busy roasting seasonal vegetable dishes, decorating “campagnolo” plates, arranging fish, pasta and beef entrees or putting the finishing touches to a sweet panna cotta. The dining room is divided into four sections: a bar area overlooking the kitchen, a sundeck with a fireplace sometimes used for cooking, a basement near the gift shop and a loft area.

The campagnolo at Sylvan Table includes assorted pickles, homemade crackers, lemon thyme ricotta, field vegetables, a selection of Michigan cheeses, charcuterie, and fruit.

The often-changing dinner menu at Sylvan Table—which offers a decent amount of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes—highlights ingredients that haven’t been tampered with for the moon and back. Portions are not huge, which helps reduce food waste and also gives diners a chance to try a few different things.

Definitely get the bread (not free, the norm these days) which is a soft brown ball of heaven with a crusty brown exterior and served with three types of homemade butter, each with a different flavour: salt, honey, and mushroom.

The best part of the campagnolo (their version of the meat and cheese board) was the pork rillette, a small bowl of slow-cooked meat, shredded and sealed with a layer of butterfat on top. It fueled my enthusiasm for the rest of the meal, as did the 50 Shades of Earl cocktail, made with Liberator Gin infused with tea from Ferndale’s Valentine Distilling, plus lemon, simple syrup, and egg whites.

Fried perch with roast potatoes, caramelized onions, milk mayonnaise and fresh herbs.

The fried perch was a shimmering pile of well-marinated fish on top of hard potatoes and an abundance of mayonnaise with milk, a thick garlic sauce similar to what you might get at a Middle Eastern restaurant. It was an unexpected and very welcome change from the regular tartar sauce. Together, with lemon and herbs, the whole dish was like a fresh, magical version of fish and chips.

Another standout is the gorgeous spring turnip salad with carrot shavings, red onions, golden raisins, and sunflower seeds, simply garnished with a tangy lemon dressing. Violin ferns with a bit of spice were fun because of their unique texture. A great example of seasonal bonuses that aren’t overly complex.

The servers and food rider helped the experience stay on track and out appropriately, suggesting drink pairings and keeping the water filling. The style of service is casual and relaxed.

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