Right before I had my first meal at Sybarite Pig, I'd devised a definition of what I call hipster food: "Poorly conceived, small-plate restaurants with dishes that could have been invented by a hungry teenager or a stoned college student."
I'm talking about restaurants that think bacon, pork belly and mayonnaise make everything better. Their bearded proprietors and precious beer menus — always filled with rare finds — are reproducing at an alarming rate.
So it was with some trepidation that I found myself at the 50-seat Sybarite Pig in West Boca being waited on by a guy with a full beard and muttonchops. I need to revise my definition, because here's a restaurant that offers a refined version of what so many restaurants don't.
Sybarite Pig owner Daniel Naumko, 33, doesn't mind the hipster moniker. His restaurant is first and foremost a craft-beer pub with eight rotating draft taps, plus another 60 bottles.
Naumko was born in Venezuela, but his father's Ukrainian heritage shows up everywhere on the menu. He says he used to help his grandmother make pickled tongue. At Sybarite Pig, it's cooked sous vide before being pickled. It's then thinly sliced and served on a kaiser roll with piquillo peppers and sherry gastrique ($12).
Naumko's wife, Roxanna, makes the kaiser rolls, pretzel buns and brioche rolls. Naumko — and now with his new chef, Suzanne Cochard — makes seven kinds of sausage, including classic North African lamb merguez and ancho pork sausage. Sausage or other meats ($10-$12) — pork belly, Korean-style short ribs and sliced tri-tip beef — can be ordered on bread or on a meat board. The price includes one house-made side dish, such as duck-fat roasted potato salad, butternut squash and pea puree.
Pickled beets with Greek yogurt ($4.50 a la carte) were refreshingly good. And I loved the not-too-salty cabbage kimchi ($4.50 a la carte) and a dish called piggy pinwheels ($5 a la carte).
Naumko's burger starts with tri-tip beef, the tender inexpensive piece from the sirloin, to which he adds rendered duck fat and a bit of Spanish sherry vinegar. The resulting moist patty is a perfect fit for the house-made brioche bun.
If Sybarite Pig has one problem, it's that it doesn't take reservations. One night, we arrived to a full house.
So for now, I recommend Sybarite Pig for lunch. Dinner, too, if you don't mind the possibility of a wait.
"We're amateurs," Naumko says. "We're learning on the job."
20642 SR 7, Boca Raton
Cuisine: Eclectic gastropub
Hours: Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday; brunch Sunday
Reservations: Only for parties of six or moreCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun