Hamburgers at the Sycamore Drive-In are made in an unusual way that the menu calls “French style.” What that means in Bethel, Connecticut, is that the grill man slaps a 2.5 ounce sphere of beef onto the grill then uses his spatula to flatten it out so far that the edges of the resulting circle are nearly paper thin. As the burger cooks, the middle stays juicy while the circumference turns into a crusty web of beef. You can get it plain, doubled, or topped with all sorts of ingredients, but the connoisseur’s choice is the Dagwood burger. The menu describes it thusly: “5 ozs. ground steak meat topped with a slice of melted American cheese, served with mustard, ketchup, pickle, onion, tomato slices, crispy lettuce and just a touch of mayonnaise to enhance the flavor and make this a special treat. (You’re just gonna love it!)”
Beyond hamburgers, the Sycamore also offers frankfurters which are OK, and franks ‘n’ beans, which are amazing: the hot dogs julienned and planted in a pot of sweet beans. The best known house specialty is root beer, made on premises from a top-secret recipe and served in frosty glass mugs. The root beer varies from sweet to dry, depending on where in the barrel yours comes from, but whatever its nature on any day, it always makes the perfect basis of a root beer float.
The Sycamore is a genuine drive in with car-hop service (blink your lights) and window trays for in-car dining. Indoors, there are booths and a long counter. It’s a true blast from the past!