There's nothing quite like a romantic dinner beside a roaring fire -- the subtle smell of smoke in the air, the crackle and pop, the warmth the fire brings on a cold winter evening. At the award-winning Sybaris Bistro in historic downtown Albany, the large fireplace is the centerpiece of the room -- a tall stack of wood always at the ready. Sybaris has the fire and a whole lot more to warm you up this winter. 

"A lot of restaurants try to take you away from winter," Sybaris owner/chef Matt Bennett said. "We embrace it." 

Bennett is a Michigan native, so he knows all about cold winters. Bennett also knows to put an emphasis on locally sourced food any time of year. 

"Here in the Willamette Valley we're lucky that our climate is mild enough our local farmers can grow all year," Bennett said. 

Consistently named one of the best restaurants in the Mid-Valley by Travel Oregon and others, the menu at Sybaris changes monthly to bring the best products from the farm to you at their peak. This time of year, the menu includes root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips and beets or dark green leafy options like kale or Swiss chard. 

Winter is a time for hearty food and the menu at Sybaris fits that theme. "A couple of the main courses are likely to include red meat game, such as elk or venison," Bennett said. "And duck fat. Lots of duck fat." 

The warmth doesn't end with the meal at Sybaris as they're known to serve the best hot drinks in the area. A Spanish Coffee or BFK by a roaring fire is the perfect ending to any dining experience this time of year. 

Sybaris is the place to eat, drink and stay warm by the fire this winter. 

(photo provided by: Jimmy Lee Johnson)

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