A look inside Sylvan Table, a sustainable farm and restaurant now open in Oakland County

The property includes a 300-year-old barn with kitchen and dining room, plus a…

A look inside Sylvan Table, a sustainable farm and restaurant now open in Oakland County 1
A look inside Sylvan Table, a sustainable farm and restaurant now open in Oakland County 2

The property includes a 300-year-old barn with kitchen and dining room, plus a heated, all-weather patio and three acres of farmland

You can’t miss it. 

Where Middle Belt road becomes Iverness at Orchard Lake Road in the tiny town of Sylvan Lake sits a giant, 300-year-old barn that was moved in pieces from Maine and reconstructed as part of the highly ambitious and long-awaited farm and restaurant concept Sylvan Table. 

Turn into the drive just past the rows of growing table grapes, some tart bush cherries and a few beehive boxes. Peek beyond the two-story barn that houses an open kitchen, bar and dining room for around 200, and gander past the patio space with heated cement for all-weather outdoor dining.

There you’ll see three acres of farmland with three hoop houses and three ponds. This land will eventually be home to a bounty of produce — carrots, garlic, ramps, English peas, fava beans, tomatoes, romaine, beets, kale and herbs galore — that will wind up on the often-changing menu served at Sylvan Table, which is now open after a soft service period. 

You can’t grow and harvest an entire field of food in a matter of months, so for the first phase, diners will enjoy the bounty of other neighborhood farms in addition to some things grown on site. 

“It’s going to take about three to five years for the farm to be fully, fully realized,” said Sylvan Table’s executive chef Chris Gadulka. “However, our farmer Kristina Pruccoli has some tremendous contacts and we are using a lot of her friends like Maple Creek Farm, Long’s, other farms like that.”

In addition to all that will eventually come from the earth, the farm has beehives for honey production, beer hops, chickens for eggs and a few pigs (though no animals will be processed on site). Excess produce may be pickled for use in later seasons, or sold at the restaurant’s tiny market. 

Inside the fire-focused kitchen, all the farm-fresh crops will be used to create a menu that balances rustic and sophisticated, with a focus more on flavor and freshness than large portion size or debonair plating (although things are presented nicely). The deckle steak, for example, is portioned at just under 5.5 ounces and paired with horseradish carrot mash, blistered snap peas and onion honey jam. 

Not all the food will be prepared in the kitchen, which has a wood-burning oven and a wood-fired grill. One of the barn’s two fireplaces — in the solarium dining area, which has a glass ceiling and stone walls — will also be used to cook.

“It’s large enough for me to roast approximately a 130-150 pound animal,” said Gadulka. “Our goal is to have something cooking in it every single night … nice, open fire, slow roasting … be it whole animal, half a leg hanging and/or fresh vegetables, which we are going to do once we get into the summer a little bit more and get fuller-sized produce and definitely when we get into the fall.” 

Entrees are running $21-$29, and chef Gadulka said he doesn’t want anything to exceed $30, ever. The mains are small enough portions that diners will have room to add vegetable sides ($7-$12) and starters ($6-$15) that include ramp and barley soup, shareable prosciutto flatbread and a bone marrow dish with peppercorn, herbs, beet greens, rocket arugula and Dijon vinaigrette. 

Because Sylvan Table’s cuisine is so driven by what is in season, guests  can expect the entire menu to change monthly. 

“We’ll have some menu items that have staying power, like our chicken will always be on the menu, we’re just going to change the accompaniment with it and have that be more seasonal,” said Gadulka, who has worked at Toast in Birmingham and Ferndale, Fleming’s Steakhouse and before that with Takashi Yagihashi at the James Beard Award-winning restaurant Tribute in Farmington Hills. “We want to be able to provide something fun and exciting for all the foodies out there but still be able to be accessible to everybody. Come in and enjoy something and taste a carrot that we picked today.”

The bar menu — which includes beer, cider and wine on tap as well as bottled wines and wines by the glass — will also have farm-fresh ingredients on the craft cocktail list like honey and strawberries.

Sylvan Table is a passion project of owners Tim and Nicole Ryan, who have been in the commercial construction business in Michigan since 1995. Their experience in the restaurant industry is from a building standpoint; this is their first venture as owners. 

“They’re unlike any other restaurant owner I’ve worked with,” says Gadulka, adding that they broke ground on Sylvan Table two years ago, but the whole kernel of the Ryans’ idea goes back six years. “This was her vision and his vision, they had a passion for it and this was something they kind of dreamed up and said this is what we want to do.”

Gadulka says for the owners, it’s not about turning a profit at the restaurant so much as it is offering something fresh and sustainable that is good for the community, that showcases Michigan products and produces as little waste as possible. 

“I’m humbled to be a part of it,” he said.

Reservations are now open for dinner, which is served nightly, with weekend brunch service to follow in the near future. Sylvan Table will also offer a limited carryout menu and the property is open to booking special events, including weddings. Sylvan Table is at 1891 Iverness in Sylvan Lake. Call (248) 369-3360 or reserve online at sylvantable.com.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com


Twitter: @melodybaetens

Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com

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