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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sycamore Drive-In, Bethel, CT


Since Ian and I have been going to Bethel every Sunday while I'm the supply preacher at the First Congregational Church there, we've taken the opportunity to eat at a different restaurant for lunch each week.  Our fist week, we revisited an old favorite, Pho Vietnam, but each week since, we've ventured to new and different restaurants.  On February 12, we visited the Sycamore Drive-In at 282 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel CT, which Kimberly had recommended to us, as she had once eaten there after a Master Gardener event.

A view of the interior of the Sycamore, along with my
most excellent church videographer and dining companion.
The Sycamore has been around since 1948 and has the vintage feeling of Arnold's Drive-In from Happy Days, with a black and white checkerboard floor, chrome and vinyl stools at a long counter, formica tables, and plenty of mid-20th-Century memorabilia.  Beyond the nostalgia factor, the Sycamore offers two unique features: fresh ground top-round hamburgers and homemade rootbeer, both of which are made from recipes that have been in use at the restaurant for decades.

When Ian and I arrived, we both already knew that we wanted the rootbeer and one of the members of the Bethel church had recommended that we order the fries "well done."  Kimberly had mentioned that the burgers were rather small and that we'd do well to order double burgers, so Ian and I both decided on the "Dagwood Burger," consisting of two patties, along with american cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, and mayo.

Dagwood Burgers, large fries and homemade rootbeer!
Our meals arrived quickly, with the rich, vanilla-heavy rootbeer in frosted mugs.  Large orders of fries, it turns out, are really too large for one person, but "well done" is definitely the way to go for these fries, which are crispy on the outside and pleasantly mealy on the inside.  I don't usually like ketchup on my fries, but these ones cried out for it, taking me back to childhood.  The burgers were served wrapped in paper, which Ian made a tactical error in removing, as his condiment laden burgers leaked and had the pieces slide apart.  They definitely wrap them for a reason and my burger held together just fine and remained mess-free in its wrapper.

Whether neatly contained or not, the burgers were quite good, though the patties, at just 2.5oz each, were surprisingly thin.  They had a good, honest, cooked-on-a-griddle umami flavor.  If I had ordered the burgers elsewhere, I might have been disappointed with the iceberg lettuce, but the crispy flavorlessness of iceberg definitely fit with the overall 1950s theme of the restaurant and was good in its own way.

With the burgers finished, Ian and I turned our attention to the second plate of fries and our waiter brought us a second round of rootbeers, on the house.  I'm not sure whether this was because I was wearing clergy blacks or because I had been photographing my food, but I wasn't about to overanalyze things.  Perhaps, if you go to the Sycamore Drive-In, you might even find out that everyone gets free refills on their rootbeer.  Just be sure to take cash, because the good folks at Sycamore don't take plastic or checks.

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