Sycamore Kitchen is my Mid City alternative to Huckleberry in Santa Monica. Even the fact that the owners are married and she specializes in sweet baked goods and breads while he tends to the savory side of the menu are common themes!
Their spectacular salads made me drive to them twice in one week for lunch! Even at 2pm, there was a line, so in less than a year people have already made this a favorite. With an enclosed patio and rustic/industrial interior, you have a choice of atmosphere if you manage to find a seat (there are communal tables which do not get filled as quickly).
They offer several specials which seem to be semi-permanent, but on my first foray I ordered the permanent menu choice of a Choinoix Chicken Salad, made with shredded chicken, cabbage, tat soy, apple, almond, puffed rice, carrots, and muddled ginger vinaigrette ($12). It was delightful. The light vinaigrette enhanced rather than drowned the salad. I was impressed by the creative mix of greens, nuts, and puffed rice in what would otherwise be a mundane salad. The portion size was very generous and many people took half their meals to go, but I loved mine so much, I ate every bite:)
Another day, another salad, so the next time I came in I ordered the Vietnamese beef salad special for $15. Five spiced flank steak, cabbage, red peppers, chile, cilantro and peanuts in a soy lime vinaigrette made this a taste of a green Vietnam. Even though I HATE cilantro, I still loved this salad (I simply picked out the offending cilantro and left it in my bowl). The five spice was subtle, the beef was tender, the vinaigrette refreshing, and the medley of colors and flavors was exotic and complex. If this is available and you eat red meat, order it!
I can not live on salads alone, so I took advantage of the short rib sandwich special for $13 on another visit. Made with onion stout jam, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and horseradish mayo, this was pure comfort in a sandwich. Served with a side salad of mixed greens, this tender concoction of meat could probably turn a vegetarian into a meat eater (maybe not, but it might at least tempt them).
Since they are a bakery and are as well known for their baked goods as their meals, I had to at least try a few sweet treats. The Lemon Polenta pound cake with blackberries had fewer blackberries than I would have liked, but the fact that there were fresh whole blackberries in this cake was in and of itself a nice surprise. The pound cake had a nice tangy lemon taste and the polenta gave it texture that set it apart from regular flour pound cakes.
The blueberry oat bar is the dessert to order if you want something fruity that is not too sweet. I liked the texture of the bar, and the generous layer of blueberries. If you like oatmeal with blueberries, you will love this dessert. All their baked goods are about $3 and they offer everything from Quinoa bran muffins to Dark Ale Spiced Gingerbread, so you can be as adventurous as your palate demands.
It seems the Hatfields have managed to create a second success; not all that surprising since they have also managed to raise two children :)