Midtown (aka the Design District) is an up and coming section of Miami and home to a happening spot, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. There has been a good amount of hype so I was anxious to check out the scene- making it the desired location for our girl’s night out. To no surprise, I got lost (even with my new car’s navigation system) so I arrived late missing the “have a drink at the bar” time. As I scooted in to meet my lady friends, I caught a glimpse of the lively outdoor bar and was a bit disappointed that I missed out on the predinner cocktail. Fortunately, I was greeted at the table with an assortment of beverages that the gals insisted “you have to try.” Within an instant, I was infatuated with the birthday girl, Amy’s, strawberry balsamic mojito and my very own was on its way.

The girls took care of business and ordered a cheese plate while waiting on me. What great friends I have- patient with my directionally challenged ways AND can make excellent decisions when it comes to food. The plate was decorated with an assortment of cheeses, fruits, olives, almonds and a hunk of delicious bread. It didn’t take us long to decide on what we were having for our dinner selection since most of us looked at the special Miami Spice menu days in advance. The prefixed menu seemed to include great options of the regular menu, so we were good to go.

While waiting for our first plates to arrive, we caught up a bit and took in our surroundings. There is a subtleness of “cool” in the air while details in both the inside and outside area give the place a “warm” feel. The décor is a creative mix, combining a vintage look with a modern edge. Hints of red make a bold statement throughout the dining area (as well as on the feet of the servers- all sporting red sneakers). The tables are filled with pretty people, most of which are enjoying Sugarcane’s eclectic cocktails and small plates served on handcrafted plates/pottery, specially made by Earthborn Studios. The place is filled with energy, yet there is no rush and diners are encouraged to relax and enjoy their stay, fitting for the tapas style of dining.The pre fixed menu allowed each guest to choose one item from each of the four sections, but our party of five did a good job of ordering a good variety so that a number of tastes could be experienced.

The Crudo selections were fresh tasting and excellent, although the portion size but the “small” in small plates.  The Goat Cheese croquettes, which were on the top of my list of things I wanted to try, were delicious with and without the marmalade sauce. I don’t think I would order any of the salad plates again, although there was an endive salad served with my stuffed dates that I enjoyed. Speaking of the stuffed dates… if there is one thing I will take away from my Sugarcane dining experience, it is this dish! The bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with manchengo cheese and linguiça sausage were incredible. Crisp edges on the outside, filled with bursts of savory and sweet on the inside and if that wasn’t enough to get you going, there is a homemade buttermilk dressing dazzling the plate to complete me, I mean each bite. I forced (without physical harm) everyone at the table to try these and even the “date haters” concurred that these were remarkable. The remaining items were decent, but nothing else left me ready to boast.  I had mixed emotions about the duck leg, another item I was revved up for, because the meat was tender and tasty, but the skin was not crisp. I feel that this may have been an isolated issue though and that the chef knows that the crunch factor should be present on such a dish.

The “hit or miss” of the plates may be due to the limited options of the Miami Spice menu, as well as the need for the kitcen to produce plates appealing to all different palates.  I would not hesitate to go back and venture into some other offerings from the main menu (i.e. Brussel Sprouts, Octopus, and Kobe Beef Slider). The expertise of our server earns Sugarcane points in the positive column as does the lively atmosphere and creativity of the menus, food and beverage included.  I am not sure of when my next Sugarcane reservation will be (perhaps once the cooler air comes through to experience the outdoor seating), but I will be looking forward to it!

Check out the additional Sugarcane plate photos here!