Ryan Sulikowski’s eyes almost seem to smile from behind his mask as he discusses his latest life-changing challenges. The chef recently opened Rye BYOB amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and he and wife Brianne have also become new parents. Ethan was born in July, making 2020 even more memorable.
Situated in Media among culinary mainstays Stephen’s on State, Fellini Cafe and La Belle Epoque Wine Bistro, Rye BYOB is more than holding its own. “We’re elevating more familiar foods while keeping things approachable and affordable,” says Sulikowski. “Our menu avoids using the typical first-, second-and third-course designations in favor of starters, pastas and proteins. We prefer that our diners create their own personal pick-and-choose tasting experience.”
Rye’s scratch kitchen delivers beautiful plates with subtle layers of texture, color and playfulness. Tempting starters include shishito peppers with feta and cured olives, roasted Brussels sprouts with cilantro and rye berries, and smoked trout with charred squash, arugula, crispy shallot, mustard vinaigrette and capers. Pasta lovers will appreciate the work involved in the house-made garganelli, toasted spaghetti and butternut squash tortelloni. Unpretentious protein options include salmon, a half chicken, scallops, mussels, and a surf-and-turf combo with a crab cake and New York strip. The massive double-beef cheeseburger is already a hit with the locals.
Crafted on-site, desserts include gooey cinnamon buns, chocolate rye cake with brandied cherries. A recent special destined to make a comeback: crepe cake made with rye flour and cocoa. Indulge in a seasonal cider-based hot toddy, a ginger-tinged Dark ’n’ Stormy, and other mocktail mixers. Coffee and espresso are sourced from local roaster Burlap and Bean.
Brunch boasts petite stacks of lemon ricotta pancakes, apple-cereal French toast, and crispy potatoes. Lunchtime standouts include a wedge salad and a vegan eggplant bánh mi.
Rye’s owners have refreshed and refined the interior of the former Lotus Farm to Table location with a softer color palette and local artwork for a comfortable ambiance. (And never underestimate the appeal of padded seats.) A few heated tables out front welcome those looking to brave the elements. Sunday-night family dinners can be pre-ordered online,
making for easy pickup in oven-ready containers.
Rye BYOB, 112 W. State St., Media, ryebyob.com. COST: $5-$24. ATMOSPHERE: Comfortably simple. HOURS: noon-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. ATTIRE: Casual. EXTRAS: No corkage fees. Pasta and gelato made on site. Fun mocktails.