Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sugar Cane Raw Bar & Grill

On a recent, beautiful Sunday afternoon, we were looking for a nice place to have dinner al fresco. Loving the vibrant, casual ambiance of Midtown Miami, I decided to have my next adventure at a place I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about: Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill, located at 3252 N.E. 1st Avenue, in Midtown Miami, and brought to us by the same creators of Sushi Samba While I had been here a couple of times for drinks, I had never sampled their food, so I was pretty excited. Arriving at their entrance, I couldn't help but catch my breath a bit; I had forgotten how charming and inviting it was. Antique tables and potted plants add a rustic feel to the leaf encased "Sugar Cane" sign that welcomes its visitors. Add to that lighted stars hanging from above, and the friendly hostess at the door, and we had a fairytale beginning to our meal at this Midtown jewel.

Leading us to an outdoor table, I felt a unique energy to the place that stood out. It was a great time of day, the sun's rays were beginning to soften and the glow made the space seem even more magical. I loved the setting! I walked inside and found it to be just as appealing. A large dining area with a combination of Asian and contemporary decor, is accentuated by an abundance of rich reds and dark wood colors; contrasting the industrial look of the walls and columns. The paneling on the ceiling and the wooden floors add an urban chic touch that completes the look. The food concept of Sugarcane is very interesting. It is mainly a selection of random tapas, created in one of their three kitchens; with a few large plates to choose from. Their kitchens are basically the raw bar (where the sushi is made), the Robata Grill (where the items are grilled over bincho-tan charcoal) and the regular inside kitchen.

Goat Cheese Croquettes
Breads and Butters
Seeing a lot of things we wanted to try, we started off with the Goat Cheese Croquettes, served with Membrillo Marmalade. These little suckers rocked! When I placed the round, crunchy bite into my mouth, it exploded, and the hot, sharp taste of the goat cheese lingered for a while. Since they are placed on the membrillo marmalade, the contrast of sweet and salty create a flavorsome union that is nothing short of addicting. So much so, that we ordered a second round. Next up, we had the assortment of Breads and Butters. It came with a nice combination of breads, including Country Bread, Focaccia and Pita, and two different types of butter: Sundried Tomato and Olive. The breads were very fresh and tasty, and they change their selection often.

My fave: Duck and Waffles
Kobe Beef Sliders
The next dish was my favorite! It totally blew me away and I can't wait to have it again. It was the Duck and Waffles. On the plate came a crispy leg confit, covered with a fried duck egg, and accompanied by delicious waffles ready to be bathed in mustard maple. I had to pinch myself to prove I wasn't dreaming! The combination of flavors made my senses spin. The duck leg was cooked tender and juicy; capturing all the seasoning during the confit process, while the egg gave it an extra savory kick. The waffles and the mustard infused maple added yet another layer of delight to the taste buds; incorporating a sweet treat to the experience. Top seller I'm sure. Afraid this dish would be hard to top, and in the mood for some more "huevos", we ordered two Kobe Beef Sliders with tonkatsu and a quail egg on top. Wasn't sure I could do it after having so many sliders at The Grind the night before, but they had game as well. Their meat was oh so tasty; and the combination of the sauteed onions, the delicate yolk of the quail egg and the slightly spicy tonkatsu sauce, brought it all together.

Fennel Sausage
Pork Meatballs
My adventure was so exciting thus far, I just had to keep going. The next two dishes we ordered, as if we hadn't stuffed our faces enough, were the Fennel Sausage and the Pork Meatballs. At this point, I have to say these didn't do a whole lot for me. I just found them to be OK, but nothing spectacular. I will add that others in my group liked them well enough, so maybe I was just still reeling from the Duck & Waffles, I don't know. The Fennel Sausage came with a parsnip puree and stewed currants,  and had a distinct taste; sometimes a bit overpowered by the fennel. In contrast to the sausage, the Pork Meatballs had a very mild flavor. They came in a sauce with pine nuts and raisins, and were paired with a piece of Country Bread. After we were done with the meatballs, we dipped the bread in the remaining sauce. You know me and dipping!

Crunchy Tuna Roll
Realizing I had ordered most of my items from the tapas menu and nothing from the raw bar, I ordered the Crunchy Tuna, one of their specialty rolls, to finish off my meal. We're back in action! The roll was, how should I say...da bomb? It was made with raw tuna, avocado, spicy tempura flakes and sweet chili. I really enjoyed the sweet chili taste, and while I always add some soy sauce, found it didn't need it. Extremely delicious and fresh!

Once I sat back in my chair, I realized I had left absolutely no room for dessert. Very disappointed in myself, I made a vow to return real soon. I hear their Torrejas are amazing! My wallet was a little lighter, but my heart was satisfied and content. Some may argue the portions are a tad small for the prices, but the food is just so awesome, you gotta splurge a little.   I also see they have a great sounding brunch menu, to which I've already checked off a couple of must try items! Stay tuned for that adventure.... One last thing, Sugarcane Raw Bar & had me at hello! For more information, visit their website at, or call them at 786-369-0353.

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill on Urbanspoon

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