After setting out for Sunday brunch in Miami yesterday with our GPS pointed in the direction of Gigi's, we arrived at 11:30 AM to find that they did not open until noon. Thank you for that, Gigi's...because we were in no mood to wait and our fall-back position elicited one the biggest food thrills I've had this year.
Sugarcane was a veritable feast for the senses from the moment we stepped through the doors. First, olfactory...with the tantalizing aromas coming from the open grill (Sugarcane has three distinct kitchens: robata, aka "charcoal"; hot; and raw). The robata and raw (fresh shellfish and sushi) kitchens were both "open", which contribute to the stunning visual stimulation this restaurant evokes at every turn (presentation of cuisine included). This is a "big city" venue with all the cool trappings one could ever ask for, including an beautiful sidewalk dining area. Since it was 112 degrees outside and we were still recovering from overindulging on the previous evening, we needed A/C. Behold the resto interior:
Sasha was the perfect server...thoroughly and patiently explaining the complex menu offerings as well as detailing the fact that since different items would be created in different kitchens, they would be presented as soon as they were prepared and in no particular order. Being very much down with that (and with a lovely of pitcher of white sangria to sip on while perusing the menu), we proceeded to order like it was our last day on earth.
While most would agree that brussels sprouts are seldom considered to be nirvana-inducing, there are apparently exceptions to every rule. Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Orange and Sweet Soy were off the freaking chain. Fresh and gorgeously caramelized, even the nefariously cruciferous veggie hating Dogboy couldn't resist a second sampling.
The next dish presented was “Fat Boy” Hash with Bacon Jam, Fried Eggs and Truffle Hollandaise. I'll go ahead and admit that, being "foodie swingers", we were all digging into each other's plates with no compunction...or even wiping off our forks first for that matter. The crispy fried potato patty, eggs and truffle hollandaise were divine, but the bacon jam lent an odd sweetness that I wasn't a fan of. No one else in the group agreed with me on the bacon jam, so I demur to the majority.
I enjoyed Truffled Toad in the Hole Brioche with Melting Robiola much more (and truly, nothing in the world can be "over-truffled" as far as I'm concerned).
Duck and Waffle with Crispy Leg Confit (confit being moist and far more plentiful than depicted in the photo), Duck Egg and Dijon Maple Syrup raised the bar on one my latest crushes, Chicken and Waffles. Ridiculously rich and fabulously delicious!
The low point of the brunch for me came in the form of a watery Burrata Cheese Fondue with Fava Bean Vinaigrette. This non-homogeneous dip (a blob of melted cheese sliding around in a bowl of vinaigrette and beans) set me to feigning unselfish daintiness as I kindly left it for the others in my party to "enjoy".
Lookie...it's redemption time! Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with Linguiça (a Portuguese sausage) on a drizzle of Manchego cheese sauce almost instigated a food fight (and not the kind you remember from the Jr. High School Cafeteria). Hmmm...four diners and three balls of ethereal goodness. You do the math.
A second pitcher of sangria (red this time) was deposited as we soldiered on. Time for something a little lighter...maybe even healthy. I know...perish the thought. The Japanese Eggplant with Sweet Soy served right off the robata was lovely in my opinion. The boyz thought the char was a tad overdone (as every woman knows, there's not a Y-Chrome on the planet who's not a grilling expert), but I appreciated the texture and flavor it lent to help a somewhat flavorless veggie that usually serves as carrier for other ingredients stand alone.
As difficult as it may be to believe that there was more to come...there was. Octopus Aji Panca was delivered in the form of a six-inch skewered and grilled tentacle section bathing in a smoky, mild Peruvian chile sauce. Lobster-sweet and grilled to perfection, the only remotely negative comment was that the portion size was tad light for $9. As a friendly reminder...we were in Miami, not Tampa. Big city food...big city prices.
Only one item was tried from the raw kitchen...yellowfin tuna jalapeno rolls. Raw fish is something I've never been able to develop a taste for so I abstained, but the rest of our party proclaimed it to be "the good stuff".
The crowning glory: Vanilla Bean Beignets with Sea Salt Bacon Ganache. Thank gawd there were four...no one loses a limb!
Brunch: The Most Important Meal of the Day
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.