Sugarcane. Ah, the memories. Since opening in 2010 at the nascent, desolate Midtown Miami, which rose out of nowhere as Miami’s newest city-within-a-city, MiMi has been eating and drinking there.
Compared to neighboring restaurants (read: outside of Midtown), Sugarcane was surprisingly ambitious and cosmopolitan. The restaurant’s cavernous interior confines were beautifully offset by its lush, intimate patio, which at night sparkled (read: still sparkles) with geometric 3D star lighting that made (read: makes) everyone look perfectly yellow-ish, candle-kissed, sexy, cosmically aglow. Babies have been made at that outside bar, if not in the hedges, and even if not there, then certainly nearby and soon after. Inside, the gargantuan plantation-ish ceiling fans moved (read: still move) impossibly slowly overhead, subconsciously slowing time itself, complementing a sort of overall barnyard chic rusticism of brick, concrete, arresting red banquets, mirrors, woods and the greenest potted plants ever. Comfy. Unfussy.
Chef/partner Timon Balloo had just come from the unfortunately-shuttered Domo Japones in the Design District, and before that he’d helped helm Azul at The Mandarin Oriental. For Sugarcane, he crafted a wackadoodle array of delicious, global comfort food; a menu of short ribs and sushi, duck fried rice and ceviches, curry shrimp and beets & grapefruit salad. On and on.
The concept took off like a rocket that landed in Brooklyn and Las Vegas. And one dish, Balloo’s confit Duck & Waffles, became so popular the owners were inspired to open up an entirely new restaurant in London in a skyscraper, aptly titled Duck & Waffle. Then a Hong Kong Duck & Waffle location followed. All this points to an incredible Miami-born success story rarely seen outside Yardbird Southern Table & Bar exporting to Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and Singapore, or Michael’s Genuine opening in Cleveland. Balloo’s personal rise not only included a “Best New Restaurant” semi-finalist designation by the James Beard Foundation, but in 2019, he opened Balloo, his eponymous new restaurant downtown.
Unbelievably – because where did time go – Sugarcane has now turned 10 years old – right now, in January. To celebrate its anniversary, the restaurant is conducting a secret operation dubbed Surprise & Delight, a nightly, randomized promo whereby certain guests and certain tables get a complementary this, a complementary that, extra of this, a little bit more of that, with a cherry on top. Sadly, MiMi hasn’t yet won this random food & drink lotto, but everyone who visits Sugarcane throughout January has a sweet, sweet chance. There’s a giant parking garage just across the street south that only charges $3 an hour. Park there, and good luck!