SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill
Barrel Aged Hemingway – Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Lime Juice, Sugarcane Juice, Egg Whites
Tobacco Rum Old Fashioned – Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Maple, Angostura Bitters, Homemade Cigar Bitters
Strawberry Balsamic – Tito’s Vodka, Lime Juice, Maple Syrup, Balsamic, Fresh Strawberries
Frozeé – Frozen Rose Champagne
Spice of Love – Grey Goose Vodka, Passion Fruit Puree, Mango Puree, Fresh Jalapeno
Goat Cheese Croquettes – Membrillo Marmalade
Brussels Sprouts – Orange, Sweet Soy
Bacon Wrapped Dates – Linguica, Manchego
Smoked Fish Dip – Potato Chips
Hokkaido Scallop Crudo (Half-Order) – Compressed Apple, Black Truffle, Lime & Jalapeno
Kombu Marinated Fluke Crudo – Red Grapes, Charred Onions & Sesame Seeds
Pig Ear Pad Thai – Papaya Salad
Lamb Tartare Merguez – Eggplant Caviar, Shaved Farm Vegetables, Pickled Mustard Seeds
Duck & Waffle – Crispy Leg Confit, Duck Egg, Mustard Maple
Foie Gras Bastilla – Pistachio Duck Leg Confit, Golden Raisin Puree
Mesquite Grilled N’duja Quail – Pommes Puree, Bone Jus
Mesquite Grilled Okinawa Purple Potato – Herbed Crème Fraiche
Mesquite Grilled Enoki Mushrooms – Soy Glaze
La Colombe Double Espresso
Torrejas – Caramelized Apples, Maple Butter, Cinnamon Ice Cream
Sesame Bombe – Sesame Sponge Cake, Vanilla Meringue, Black Sesame Sauce
Nutella Sundae – Nutella Ice Cream, Nutella Hazelnut Brownie, Cracker Jacks
Having sworn off Strip-based restaurants with an opening date in 2016 for various reasons, particularly those throwing back-patting grand opening parties with Media invites intended to spark interest, it was with a bit of snark that I responded to an E-mail from SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill the same way I do all such inquiries, my offer to pass on the ‘event’ and instead offer unbiased feedback on their Miami-based concept surprisingly greeted with open arms by 1on1 Public Relations President Larry Fink.
Approaching the day with a lot of interest, not one of the year’s other new openings agreeing to such an idea, it was with warm greetings from a young hostess that our party was led to a comfy booth looking down the line towards the bar area, General Manager Jeremy Yoza proving an educated and gracious host throughout the evening with servers that ranged from experienced professionals to those still a bit rough around the edges.
A relative of SushiSamba, the relaxed style and global influence filling a needed gap in The Venetian’s Restaurant Row, SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill brings Chef Timon Balloo’s cuisine to Las Vegas by way of executive Chef Ryan Nuqui, the pair presenting everything from Crudo to Grilled Meats and Small plates at an accessible price-point alongside a not unexpected list of clever $16 Cocktails.
Told to fill in a Chef-selected menu with anything eye-catching, several signatures from Miami imported just like Yardbird across the way, it was with the smoky-yet-palate-friendly Tobacco Rum Old Fashioned alongside a Barrel Aged Hemingway with a shaken Egg White that the meal got started, the Croquettes well complimented by Quince Jam while charred Sprouts with Citrus, sweet n’ spicy Dates and Smoked Sturgeon Spread all paired well to the beverages, though the Potato Chips served with the latter were far too thin for scooping, thus compromising an otherwise delicious straight-out-of-Florida concept.
Self-selecting some raw stuff with a bit of influence from servers, the Hokkaido Scallop Crudo an unexpected surprise laid atop Apples with preserved Black Truffle and just a touch of heat, snappy Fluke impressed with its focus on subtlety while the smooth Lamb Tartare immediately showed signs of a kitchen willing to take chances, a beautiful presentation yielding the earthy aromatics of African spices that spread nicely on the housemade flatbread with brightness added by Pickled Mustard Seeds.
Investing in some sweeter drinks as plates grew heavier, the Vodka-based Strawberry Balsamic and Slurpee-style Champagne Cooler both the sort of drinks that could get lightweights into trouble while the “Spice of Love” was described as ‘really hot’ by those who tasted it, Pig Ear Pad Thai with Papaya was fun for both taste as well as texture while the same could be said for the Duck & Waffle that was as tasty as one might expect given the stack of ingredients atop a picture perfect Belgian Waffle.
All-in on the Foie Gras Bastilla, a shattering Wonton wrapped around shredded Leg Meat, crumbled Pistachios plus a thick slice of Duck Liver resting in a pool of Golden Raisin Puree, those looking for a simple yet bold taste are encouraged to check out some of the Chef’s Mesquite-grilled creations, both the Mushrooms and Sweet Potatoes perfect for Vegetarians or those counting calories while the Quail features one of Sin City’s most underused ingredients, the smooth Calabrian Sausage something that simply needs to be tasted in order to be fully appreciated.
Excited to see the restaurant serving Coffee Beans from La Colombe, the Philadelphia based roaster easily one of the Nation’s most passionate and well respected, desserts once again speak of a kitchen reaching out to guests of all varieties, the Nutella Sundae sweet and sharable by groups while a beautiful Sesame Bombe is a far more subtle sort of dish that eats lighter than suggested by its description, the Spanish French Toast an immediate contender for the city’s best dessert as the Caramelized Bread breaks to Custard amidst sautéed Apples and notes of Cinnamon plus Maple Butter still bubbling in the skillet.
FOUR STARS: Still a bit wet behind the ears in terms of service, both the Pad Thai and Lamb Merguez tipping over thanks to careless presentations, SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill is a great addition to Vegas’ ever evolving culinary landscape and, at least thus far, one of the few recent additions showing signs of taking some real chances.
RECOMMENDED: N’duja Quail, Lamb Merguez, Foie Gras Bastilla, Torrejas, Sesame Bombe, Strawberry Balsamic.
AVOID: The chips with the Fish Dip need to be rethought and the Pad Thai would benefit from some nuts to help balance the salinity.
TIP: Open 11a-1a Su-Thu and 11a-2a on Friday as well as Saturday. Full menu offered all day with additional items added for lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.