Last night I learned a simple equation for an astonishingly good meal: 1 male model + 1 legislative aide (and new friend) + 2 cups of freshly pressed coffee + 1 executive chef + locally sourced ingredients = LBR 614. How does that add up? Read on.
LBR 614 is a new restaurant, and I had the pleasure of chatting with Jimmie Sylvester (CEO, owner, and male model) and Jeffrey Bailey (Executive Chef, owner, and genius in the kitchen) at the invitation of my new friend, Valerie. (Side note: Already I have made some wonderful connections by embarking on this local experiment, and Valerie is no exception. Last night we bonded over a rooster named Richard I and a mutual love of goat cheese. You will be hearing more about Val in a later post.)
Jimmie and Jeff are not new to Delaware; both were born and raised here. Their careers brought them to many places, including New York City and Chicago, but landed them right back in Delaware, at LBR 614 in Newark to be exact. The restaurant opened on December 10, 2011, introducing an interesting concept to the Delaware food scene: farm to table cuisine. Right up my alley. After Jeff prepared a perfect Louisiana Gumbo (I ordered it in honor of Greg) for me and I devoured my Roasted Beet with Goat Cheese Salad, he and Jimmie took some time to answer my questions.
“When you know better, you do better,” this comment from Jimmie sums up LBR 614’s food philosophy. That’s why Jeff cooks with only the best, most nutritious, and freshest ingredients, and that’s why most ingredients are locally sourced within a 100-mile radius of LBR 614’s front door. In fact, Jeff and Jimmie know exactly where their meat comes from, because they’ve visited the farm and talked with the farmers. They also know where their produce comes from, because it is all organically grown by local Delaware growers. When you order a burger from LBR 614, you know that the meat is hormone and chemical free, ground just for LBR 614 with actual cuts of meat (not trim pieces picked up off the butcher’s floor) and probably delivered to the restaurant that day. No frozen patties here! Jeff says his walk-in freezer is practically useless because there’s nothing in there. Oh wait, sometimes he flash freezes fresh, seasonal corn for use in the winter months.
Both Jimmie and Jeff say that customers are interested in the concept, asking questions and getting excited about the beautiful meals on their plates. I overheard Jesse, our attentive waiter, explaining “farm to table” to the group of lovely older women at the table across from ours. They were thrilled to hear about local sourcing, but more thrilled about the hearty portion of ale-battered fish and chips that arrived at their table a few minutes later.
So just to make sure that the farm to table concept was going over well with the local community, I talked to Mary Ann and Dan, a mother and son duo enjoying dinner, who were kind enough to let me and my notebook sit with them for a moment. Mary Ann is a busy mom with new job responsibilities that make it very hard for her to cook at home during the week, and Dan is a 21 year old drum player for Last Nail Driven that moonlights as an electrician’s apprentice during the day. While the farm to table, local idea was a new concept to them, they have embraced LBR 614 to the fullest, spending two to three nights a week there. It has become their local table. Dan commented on the ambiance; he likes that there’s no TVs to distract conversation. Mary Ann agreed. When busy schedules make it hard to connect, she knows that when she and Dan come to LBR 614 they can relax and chat.
But of course the main reason they come back is the food. Dan said, “It’s not like Olive Garden. Everything is so fresh.” (Bravo, Dan, bravo. You are wise beyond your years.) Unlike chain restaurants, at LBR 614, Dan knows that anything he orders on the menu will be good. He’s tried everything, but his favorites are the steak and the fried chicken (a specialty). Mary Ann was enjoying mussels while I was talking to her, but she loves the whole menu and the drink specials. She said, “Jimmie and Jeff are a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It’s like a community here.”
I really could go on and on about this restaurant. I could talk about the Roasted Half Chicken with Capers and Fingerling Potatoes that I brought home to my husband, which he ate greedily, followed by finger licking (he does that sometimes). I could talk about the cooking classes that they offer, but I won’t right now, because I am off to one of those classes this minute. (Blog post will ensue.)
1 Experimental Locavore + LBR 614 = Love