Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Miami: Timon Balloo's Sugarcane

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
in Midtown Miami is a busy place on a Saturday night, catapulted to the top of Miami's dining scene with the creative cuisine of Timon Balloo, Sugarcane's talented Chef de Cuisine and candidate for The People's Best New Chef honours by Food & Wine magazine. 

The interior of Sugarcane

The decor of the restaurant stays loyal to the authenticity of Miami with inspiration from colonial Spanish-style architecture. The space has a vibrant modern aesthetic with masses of wooden ceiling fans, in the shape of palm leaves, whirring in unison overhead, giving the space a sort of colonial-industrial feel. The pretty garden courtyard and large open-air bar draws crowds every night — especially on hot summer evenings!

Sugarcane's garden setting courtyard

The outdoor bar, which hums every night — standing room only after 11pm!

With three distinct kitchens — a hot kitchen, raw bar and robata — a Japanese charcoal grill — Sugarcane focuses on a shared experience with its tapas-style menu. Using only the freshest seasonal, local ingredients, Chef Timon Balloo offers daily dishes inspired by Miami's South American and Latino-Cuban roots.

Sugarcane's Chef de Cuisine, Timon Balloo

Inside the kitchen at Sugarcane

Sugarcane’s philosophy of sharing transcends throughout, with conceptual small plates like Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with linguiça sausage and manchego cheese; robata-grilled Octopus with aji panca (a Peruvian red pepper sauce); succulent Squid marinated in a tangy lemon ailoi; and mouth watering Korean Style Beef Short Ribs — so good we had to order two servings!

Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with linguiça sausage and manchego cheese

Octopus with aji panca sauce

Korean Style Beef Short Ribs

Squid marinated in a tangy lemon ailoi

Tapas style dishes include Steamed Pork Buns with apple kimchi; delicious Bone Marrow with veal cheek marmalade; Broccolini garnished with an aromatic truffle fondue and toasted garlic; Roasted Brussel Sprouts marinated in sweet soy and orange; Veal Kidneys with onion purée and whole grain mustard jus; and fabulous Duck & Waffles, where warm Belgian waffles meet their match alongside crispy duck leg confit with a sunny-side up duck egg and topped with a small jug of sweet maple & mustard seed syrup.

Steamed Pork Belly Buns with apple kimchi

Roasted Brussel Sprouts marinated in sweet soy and orange

Veal Kidneys with onion purée and whole grain mustard jus 

Duck & Waffles with crispy duck leg confit, fried duck egg 
and maple syrup with mustard seeds

Bone Marrow with veal cheek marmalade and ciabatta

Specialty sushi rolls include crunchy tuna with avocado, spicy tempura flakes and sweet chili; kobe beef with shiso leaf and pink peppercorn mustard; and the Sugarcane roll with lobster, endive and tomato salsa. The hot kitchen also offers Balloo’s large plates with feature whole roasted chicken served with truffle fingerling potatoes and shiitake mushrooms; daily hand-carved meat with garden vegetables; and whole roasted Branzini with lemon and herbs. To complement the tradition of sharing, Sugarcane offers freshly muddled libations in pitcher-portions — from white or red sangria to limey-mint mojitos. The menu also features bubbly by the glass and lots of inventive cocktails.

Sugarcane's whole roasted Branzini — the grilled fish of the evening

But save room for dessert. Our waiter insisted that we order the Torrejas — the sinfully delicious Spanish/Mexican version of french toast, made with baked brioche and topped with sautéed apples and vanilla ice cream, in a maple caramel sauce. I'm so glad we took his advice — it was delicious!

Torrejas with Maple Carmel Apple and Cinnamon Ice Cream with Piecrust Crumbles

Haisam, our charming Venezuelan waiter

It's understandable why Sugarcane has garnered so many accolades. With their extensive tapas style menu, friendly service, spirited ambiance and enviable cocktail list, patrons just kick back, eat well, and stay awhile. We did just that — enjoying a luscious three hour dinner, sharing 16 small plates, two jugs of Mojito's and lost of laughs! Many thanks to Randy, Dina and Manita for leading me astray in Miami!


3250 Northeast First Avenue,
Midtown Miami

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