Small Plates, Big Flavor At SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill


It’s not every day that our palates trick us. For years, I lived under the assumption that I generally was not a big fan of small plates in restaurants. I don’t share well when it comes to food. I’m the worst one to invite for communal Chinese nights. I had previously been referenced to numerous times with that scene from Friends where Joey yells, “Joey doesn’t share food!”

I was pretty confident in the demise of small plates in the modern restaurant scene, and then I went to Sugarcane, Brooklyn’s latest hotspot addition to the Empire Stores center along the river in DUMBO. Sugarcane raw bar grill newly opened this past week to big crowds, and a ton of buzz after the success of their Vegas and Miami outposts. The restaurant specializes in a three-kitchen process, each one working on raw bar, open flame grilling, and other culinary craftsmanship.

Eating at Sugarcane is an absolute delight. While the raw bar options of sushi and ceviche are great, its almost worth passing them up for the well-crafted dishes in their small plates section. Often times at similar small plate restaurants, there’s tireless work put into the raw bar, with fairly simple other dishes to appease those who don’t care for raw fish in the group, or vice versa. Rarely does a restaurant like Sugarcane come around that seems to strike both sides of their menu so perfectly and with an evenness that makes all diners feel like this is the restaurant they chose for the group outing. For the raw bar options, the fluke ceviche with sweet potatoes is a can’t-fail success.


The other side of the menu is grilled meats, from skirt steak to chicken to duck, and are delicious. While the skirt steak is perfectly cooked, this side of the menu feels easy to pass up when on center stage, the real showstoppers are eye-catching combos like “Pig Ears Pad Thai” or the “Goat’s Cheese Croquettes”. Personally, these appetizer-sized options are why you should come here. The menu is can become expensive quickly, but targeted correctly, is perfectly worth the cost. The center of the menu, the small dishes built for sharing, are where the focus should be. Smoked Fish Dip, the above mentioned Pad Thai, even the cauliflower are all knockout home runs. The crown jewel of which though is the signature duck and waffle, a menu item so successful across the restaurants that the company opened its own duck and waffle restaurant that’s received lauded reviews in London. A perfectly seasoned duck sits atop a golden brown waffle, with a sunny side up egg rested on top of it all—a perfect balance of breakfast and dinner, with a sweet and savory finish that proves this restaurant can give you all the flavors you want.

To pair with dinner, the restaurant has a great cocktail program. The mango-puree jalapeno and gin cocktail is a well-rounded pairing to go with both seafood and raw bar options while the old fashion pairs perfectly with meats and more savory selections.


After dinner, be sure to wander around the area for a stroll along the river. The restaurants interior features a chic blend of exposed brick, wood pilings, and that Brooklyn vibe of former-factory-current-brasserie vibe that’s easy to love, but its nothing compared to the views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges reaching over the water in either direction.

Sugarcane raw bar grill may be new to the ever-trendy pocket of Brooklyn, but it will certainly be here to stay with a great opening like they have now. Go with friends, order more than you think you want, and leave with the knowledge that small plates can pack a bigger punch that you ever thought they could. You’re missing out, Joey.