The Sybaris Philosophy
by Chef Matt Bennett
What drives the long term success of a restaurant? We believe that it’s a deep rooted philosophy. After all, what makes you choose one Albany or Corvallis, Oregon restaurant over another? They all have walls, they all have food.
Well, the food is obviously number one – but what about location? Seating? How far apart the tables are? The quality of service? The general ambience, and of course price?
We named our restaurant “Sybaris” because we loved the Greek stories of the Sybarites. A Sybarite was a native of Sybaris, an ancient Greek city in southern Italy. Sybarites were stereotyped as seekers of pleasure and good taste.
We have translated this Greek history into an amazingly simple philosophy for our restaurant:
get the best available ingredients, cook them to perfection, and serve them without attitude or pretense. Lastly, treat our guests as a good neighbor should be treated and greet them with a warm smile.
My own favorite restaurants have freshly cooked food, made by a chef that is proud of what he prepares. They have a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere, a welcoming staff and friendly knowledgeable service. Good restaurants deserve to be rewarded with our patronage.
Here, in the Willamette Valley, we are so spoiled by farmers growing delicious, fresh, produce that is available to us all year long. Before we even opened the doors of Sybaris, I was introduced to Springhill Farms in North Albany. They supply the best restaurants in Portland, service many Farmer’s markets and organic grocers. We are lucky to be able to get deliveries every day that we are open. They are always the first to donate produce to any of our charity dinners and are the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet.
As a trained Chef, I want our guests to be able to visually identify the components on their plate. Oh, sure, sometimes we will do a special presentation for the guests’ amusement. However, a tomato should look like a tomato, smell like a tomato and most importantly, taste like a rich, perfectly fresh tomato. This goes for pork, game birds, everything we serve. OK, not tongue, nobody wants to see a tongue on their plate!
I think about cooking all of the time. Ideas can come from anywhere, anytime. I write on the back of used envelopes-not as whole dishes, generally; it may be a garnish, a sauce or a combination of flavors. I have a collection of around 2,500 cookbooks and read them cover to cover. I get inspiration from very old cookbooks as much as I do when reading the new ones. A lot of the old techniques aren’t done any more, but those classic dishes are incredible. I enjoy combining the old and the new for something completely different.
Our servers make our guests feel welcome, respected and appreciated. No, we don’t have the little stool for the ladies’ purses like Alain Ducasse, but we have dedicated professionals that work hard to help you choose the right dish for your mood and answer any questions you may have with knowledge. Most of all, we ensure that you have the Sybaris experience you deserve. Whether you are at Sybaris to impress business clients, celebrate a special occasion, try a dish you can’t get anywhere else or simply to have a night out, our staff wants you to have a great time.
Our family lives within walking distance of Sybaris. We have two great daughters that go to school here in town. We go to Church downtown. We love to eat at other Albany restaurants. We go to the library often. We shop at other downtown businesses. We are as excited to see the carousel project blossom as we are proud of the Albany, OR community effort it has taken to make it happen. Janel is from North Dakota, I am from Michigan, but Albany, OR is our home and Sybaris is our passion.
Come and enjoy our Sybaris philosophy… we would love to get to know you,