Sycamore Restaurant

Over the past year Sycamore – which always turned out excellent, reliable food – has become the best restaurant in town. What was once a satisfying but largely static menu has morphed into a kinetic, ever-evolving experiment – and one still very well-executed.

My next Tribune column is on the restaurant’s evolution and how it has brought Columbia diners along for the ride. It struck me that when my mom – an excellent but conventionally Midwestern cook – orders a dish of fried pig’s head and trotters, something is going on. So, is this for real or am I just in the tank?


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

10 thoughts

  1. Sycamore is the place where we can go and people know who we are. We are friends. Our kids go to daycare together. We have shared beers. When we want to go out, our family goes there. We do our “date” nights there. Our little girl loves the crab cakes that “Elizabeth’s dad” makes for her – as she likes to tell us. When we first moved here, my wife and I had lunch there one day and I saw Gouden Carolus on tap. I said: This place is for me.

  2. As Jeff mentions, I’m also good friends with the owners, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. There are a few exceptional restaurants in town (Bleu and the Wine Cellar & Bistro come to mind), but I’ve never come away from a dining experience at Sycamore where I wasn’t completely satisfied with the money that was spent. I have however at times been dissatisfied with some of these other places, whether it was because of disappointing food or poor service. Mike’s cooking/menu couldn’t be better and Sanford puts together THE BEST beer list in town (ignore the dribble that Inside Columbia puts out). Although we make it for dinner less than we would like, my wife and I ‘do lunch’ quite a bit a Sycamore and find it to be one the best values in town. Look forward to your article.

  3. I like the food, but I find Sycamore too noisy for conversation – maybe it’s the tin ceiling. We prefer the Wine Cellar for that reason.

  4. I like Sycamore at lot but the lunch menu is always the same, and since I can go for lunch more often than for dinner I have not been there for a while.

  5. Been there various times – and usually choose Sycamore’s for out-of-town guests, or some special event. I don’t know the owners and I’m never recognized when I go in. I find it interesting (not good or bad, just interesting) that others mentioned this.

    Because I cook and am a fairly daring and experimental cook, when I go out, I want to experience someone else’s daring and successes. Without equivocation, Sycamore’s has done that time and time again for me.

  6. Maria, good as always to hear from you. I hope your fam – and la nina – are doing well.

    The reason a few of these commenters mentioned knowing the owners is that Sycamore’s owners and chef have actively cultivated personal relationships with their regulars. Jeff, Jamie and I all know each other through events at or by Sycamore, and see each other regularly as a result. It’s a small cult, but if not borne out by the raves of the non-initiated (which requires two visits and an intoduction), I’d be hesitant. But the raves come from all sides, so I’m comfortable proclaiming it the best.

    Sg’s point stands, though. The place is murder on the ears. Especially those with hearing aids, like yours truly.

  7. I’m like Maria. I cook plenty of different things at home, and every night I try to cook a NICE dinner, so when I go out, I’m not ever going to opt for some run-of-the-mill dish. I need places like Sycamore where I can count on something unusual, difficult for home cooks to accomplish, or just plain well-executed.

    I’m a Jeff Citian, so I don’t know Mike or Sanford, but the few times I’ve been able to make it up to Sycamore, you’d think they DID know us — that’s how well we’ve been treated. And the food — the FOOD!

    I need another fix.

  8. I’d put Sycamore up against any East Coast hot spot. Great place and great for Columbia.
    –Envious in Norfolk

  9. In our travels, including both coasts, Sycamore easily matches anything we’ve had for overall quality and value. When we took our honeymoon to northern California/Oregon, we missed Sycamore the entire time and never found an equal establishment.

    They catered our wedding, using primarily food grown on local farms (including ours) and have been good friends ever since. We started selling to them on occasion last year, and Mike will be buying and using a variety of produce from us on a fairly regular basis this year. There are few restaurants who are as good at working with local suppliers and do as good a job with what they recieve.

    To us, Sycamore is one of the best things about living in this area, even though on our full-time farm budget we don’t eat out much anymore.

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