Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

Tim Balloo is at the helm of SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill.

A Chef of Chinese-Trinidadian descent, Balloo has worked in the hottest restaurants Miami has offered including Domo Japones, Sushi Samba in New York city, Michelle Bernstein-led Azul and Miami’s own Chef Allen. The restaurant has taken Miami by storm since it opened last year and despite many tourists coming to visit Miami, the restaurant continues to have a buzz among the locals.

Like Sushi Samba in New York city, it’s East meets West style dining in tapas form and a South American spirit but there are still all-American favorites on the menu such as wed salads and flatbread pizzas. Paying homage to its name, Sugarcane is inspired by the “sweet gold” which attracted emigrants from around the world, uniting them in a quest for a new and better life. At its core, Sugarcane represents the experience of kicking back, eating well and enjoying life with friends from all different walks of life.

The decor of the restaurant stays loyal to the authenticity of Miami with inspiration from colonial Spanish-style architecture. There are many vintage ‘found objects’ throughout the restaurant with organic textures but keep a vibrant and modern design. I even felt a Brazilian ‘favela-chic’ design to the restaurant with rattan fans dropping from the high ceilings and the banquets paired with mismatched tables and chairs. The wallpaper appears to be vintage and adorned with antique mirrors and the restored floors are sometimes met with hand-painted Moroccan tiles. The restaurant is large, spacing out to 4200 square foot of indoor dining and 850 square foot of outdoor terrace – so you can imagine the number of customers it may hold, especially on the weekends.

The best part of the restaurant is the bar which wraps the interior of the restaurant to an outdoor terrace where people can stand (or sit) and munch on a few of their favorite tapas dishes.

The bar offers a large selection of drinks; their specialty is rum but I decided to be adventurous and try something unique to SUGARCANE Bar Grill; it was called Spicy Love. Sure the name is a bit cheesy but once you have one of these, you’re hooked.

Spicy Love is made of muddled Japaleno peppers, passion fruit syrup, a dash of lime and Scedka vodka. When you smell the drink, you smell fresh passion fruit juice and syrup and but once you drink it, you feel the peppers’ kick and feel it in your throat. A great drink that must be ordered!

Spicy Love:

The staff is very friendly and their knowledge of ingredients, flavors and textures of the food could let them ramble on and on. It’s good to speak with the staff that understand the concept well and understand and try to explain how certain flavors would go together and what to expect. SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill holds 3 distinct kitchens: robata grill, the hot kitchen and the raw/sushi bar. It might have seemed disorganized at first but it was part of Balloo’s concept to blend flavors and seasonal ingredients in this specific way.

Some of the tapas we ordered:

Pig ear/bbq spice – beautifully crisp and surprisingly moist inside. I love that they were served like fries and they weren’t greasy at all. I really liked the bbq spice and there was a hint of paprika rub on them as well. Addictive!

Duck and Waffles/Crispy leg confit, duck egg, mustard maple – I was blown away by the flavors these two food types created. The sweetness of the maple syrup and waffle reminded me of child hood breakfasts and oh did it go so well with the duck leg confit which gave it a little crunch to it. A very interesting idea on mixing sweet and savoury.

And my little slice of paradise:

Bone Marrow/Veal cheek marmalade
 – What a monster of a bone marrow. The veal cheek marmalade comprised of shredded veal cheek was very sweet and mixed in with the more gelatine-like bone marrow was hands-down the best. No words can describe how good this dish was. 

Sweet Potatoes/Maple Soy (on the house) – a little too dry for my liking but I like roasted sweet potatoes anyways. 

Fresh Water Eel sushi roll/ avocado

Night crab Sushi roll/Snow crab, shrimp tempura and caper mustard

BBQ short-rib Korean-style from the Robata Grill

Under Balloo, SUGARCANE scored a 3-star review in The Miami Herald and was titled the Best New Restaurant by The Miami Times, the 2010 Restaurant of the Year and Miami Magazine declared it the Most Exciting Restaurant of 2010. This year, it was a semi-finalist of the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant category.

With all these awards you’d think the restaurant was just a fad of 2010, but it is still going strong. We were lucky to meet one of the owners and he said that they’re opening a 3-storey restaurant in the heard of London: Sushi-Samba, SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill and their own bar. Should be an exciting opening to watch in November! Nevertheless with such different ingredients blended together on one dish, SUGARCANE must keep up with ingenius ideas to tickle the palettes of locals and to remain successful and stay at the forefront of tapas-style cuisine.

If not part specifically of Paris’ new wave of restaurants, it’s definitely part of the new trend of demonstrating the uniqueness in terms of flavor of seasonal produce, of doing something different according to clientele’s wants and needs. If it wants to stay at the forefront of Miami’s new cuisine, it must continue to blend different ingredients together and be the leader of this new tapas-style kind of dining. And I hope it does…along with its’ alcoholic concoctions!

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
3252 Northeast 1st Avenue #115, Miami FL 33137

Tel: (786) 369-0353

One Response to “Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill”
  1. Roberto says:


    I want everything……

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