Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill (Miami) – Great Potential

I recently attended a conference in Miami and a few of us decided to sample the local fare on the last evening. A foodie friend suggested Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill, it offered excellent food with a good vibe, not far from the hotel. After a five minute cab ride we entered the terrace and immediately agreed the vibe was very relaxed Miami and if the food was equal, this would be a great recommendation. The terrace was fully enclosed by foliage, offered long wooden tables and a full view of the evening sky with star-shaped Pythagoras solids lightly illuminating the space. The interior is slickly designed with a 20-foot wood beamed ceiling, an open kitchen along the rear wall, leather wrapped banquettes and white topped tables.

img_0281The server approached and asked for drink orders, and throughout the entire service was fully capable of answering each and every question about their specialty cocktails, explained each dish and throughout the evening was spot on in her attention to the table and her friendliness couple with professionalism. Many other restaurants would benefit from her attitude and training. We ordered cocktails and several dishes to share.

Two of the dishes were excellent and highly recommend each.

img_0283My favorite dish of the evening was the kimchee beef tartare with a quail egg and crispy potato strings. A large plate of crisped shoestring potatoes was intermingled with diced beef and chives, finished with a light dressing that included kimchee. The beef was delicious, full of flavor and the kimchee was a perfect addition to add a good level of spiciness. The shoestrings added a salty crunch and the quail egg a decadent creaminess.

img_0284The other recommended dish is the American Wagyu slider. Each was served topped with onions, a “Tonkatsu” sauce and a fried quail egg. The flavors and textures of this combination worked marvelously with the rich meat offset by the sweet sauce and the pungency of the onions. The quail egg added a lovely layer of creaminess and the bun added just a touch of nuttiness to this combination. I could have ordered and enjoyed a few more of these min-burgers.

The others were very good, but there was just something missing from each that

The shaved kale & gala apple salad toasted walnut vinaigrette was very good. The kale offered a richer flavor than those up north and the texture was a little tougher than I am used to. The vinaigrette was delicious, and the apples were a great complement, but the portion of the apples was much too sparse, I would have really enjoyed the dish with the addition of a larger portion of apples.

img_0285The “Five spice & honey spare ribs” were four smallish baby back ribs that were lathered in a sweet sauce and finished with a touch of coriander & chilies. The ribs were fall off the bone tender, but the sauce was a little too sweet and it felt like they were not paired but forced together. I really loved the idea of Sugarcane’s take on a traditional southern favorite of fried chicken and waffles with its “Duck & waffle.” A half-waffle was topped with a crispy duck leg confit and a fried duck egg, served with a mustard maple syrup. The duck was perfectly cooked, with one of the crunchiest skins I have ever tasted but it lacked any seasoning. The egg was slightly over-fried and the underside traded creaminess for crunchiness and, again, lacked any seasoning. The waffle was a basic recipe. The dish had all of the components, but lacked that something special to make it great.

img_0286I was disappointed in two of the dishes. The “Pan seared scallops” were served with crispy pork belly, calabaza purée, and a green mojo. The scallops were very over-cooked, rubbery and lacked any flavor and the pork belly was likewise borderline flavorless. Again the kitchen failed to add any seasoning to this dish. The “Spicy tuna” roll was basic, at best. It lacked that fresh, vibrant tuna flavor and there was little additional flavor from the rice.

Overall, Sugarcane is on the precipice of serving a full complement of great dishes. The chef has assembled great combinations. If the kitchen can deliver the chef’s vision with consistent quality and proper seasoning this can be one great restaurant.

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#miami #sugarcane


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