Sarasota’s Big Sugar restaurant delivers unique flavors.
By Judi Gallagher
I must admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Big Sugar when they first opened. I just assumed it was a rum bar. Now that I’ve been there, I can tell you Big Sugar is so much more, and it’s arrived just in time to give the once culinary buzzing Hillview Street a much needed culinary injection. Now that The Table is a goner, Hillview needs a hot spot that will endure more than a season or two. Sure, there are Chutney’s and Pacific Rim and I do recommend both.
First off, I did have a fruity rum drink and loved it. But Big Sugar really is about the food. Chef Eric Bein, who toned his cooking skills in some of New York’s finer kitchens, brings a surprisingly fresh attitude to island cuisine. Big Sugar’s version of homemade empanadas are a good starter—flaky pastry filled with seasoned filet-accented spread.
The ahi tuna was cool and refreshing, missing the mark only on the “jalapeno foam” that seemed to be missing the jalapeno. Perhaps one of the best entrées I have had the pleasure of devouring this past year was the special of the evening; filet mignon with braised oxtail ragout and oyster mushrooms. The menu features sweet potato-crusted mahi mahi- moist and flavorful, well balanced with just the right seasoning. There is a New York strip with chimichurri butter, and the yucca frites will have you smiling like you just came off an island vacation. You’ll also find a host of creative island- themed desserts with a new edge.
Partnered with Suncoast Food Alliance, Big Sugar is big with fresh produce and local product, another thumbs up for a welcome culinary neighbor!