Sycamore Den's meat and cheese board.  The olives can stay, but everything else doesn't gel with the bar's cocktails.
  • Sycamore Den's meat and cheese board. The olives can stay, but everything else doesn't gel with the bar's cocktails.
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Sycamore Den

3391 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

Sycamore Den got food!”

That was the rumor, anyways, that the Normal Heights hipster-centric cocktail lounge, styled after a dreamy and favorable vision of the 1970s where men were men, had augmented its menu with something to soak up the alcohol from the drinks on the new cocktail menu (which deserve a separate treatment in the near future).

Well, it turns out that the bar added meat and cheese boards (~$15), which are OK, but nothing special. Stale bread, charcuterie and cheese of middling quality, fruit, pickled veggies….it’s pretty obvious where this is going: meh.

The bigger problem is more philosophical. These meat and cheese boards are wine bar food, poorly suited to the style and flavor of mixed drinks. Cocktails, by their very nature, are to be taken separate from — usually leading into — food. The original intent of the cocktail was to awaken the appetite before a meal, not to accompany food. The bitter potency of cocktails doesn’t work with provincial picnic nibbles. The popcorn coming out of the vintage-looking machine behind the bar ends up stealing the show. Cocktails would pair better with more assertive foods. Coincidentally, the salty party snacks of the 1970’s, resplendent in their tackiness, would be perfect.

Deviled eggs. Underwood ham on crackers. Devils (or angels) on horseback. BLTs. Cocktail wieners.

Now, that would be appropriate to the drinks. It’s the difference between brie and prosciutto (wrong!), versus cheese curds and lil’ smokies (right!). Maybe that’s too much to ask of Sycamore Den, since the bar doesn’t have a real kitchen, but it bears thought for the future of drinking in SD.

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Ed Bedford Jan. 11, 2014 @ 6:02 p.m.

So-o right about what goes with wines and what goes with cocktails. All that good stuff pictured is great with the grape, but cocktails? As you say, for sharpening the appetite. Pretzels would be plenty.


Ian Pike Jan. 13, 2014 @ 6:41 p.m.

I really think the devil on horseback (chicken livers wrapped in bacon, with or without a water chestnut) might be the perfect snack to accompany a good, stiff drink.


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