The two chefs’ paths passed like culinary ships in the night, both working at the same place, but at different times. When they finally met up, Troy Guard and Noah French knew they wanted to do some sort of restaurant project together. Once the moon and the stars aligned just so, a delicacy of a new restaurant, Sugarmill Bakery and Lounge, was born. This is one of a flurry of new restaurants by Troy Guard, including next door neighbor, Los Chingones.
Although Noah French is, by trade, a pastry chef, and pastries and other baked goods are the star of Sugarmill, there’s so much more to this place which is doing everything very, very well. The interior of Sugarmill is pretty, yet masculine with blue chairs, custom-made wallpaper and a charming mural of a sugarmill in action. The light fixtures are like beautiful bubbles, suspended. There’s four-top and community seating, but If you can, sit up at the marble bar to watch the chefs in action, right before your eyes.
The servers are friendly, warm and knowledgeable, explaining what goes into each item as proudly as if they had made it themselves. It’s unusual to see staff so invested in their workplace, even though they aren’t investors. And they have a lot to be proud of.
The counter that greets you as you walk in is filled with gorgeous cakes you want to make up a special occasion for, plus cookies, madeleines, scones, muffins, even granola and caramel corn. Stop in, in the morning to grab some coffee and a goodie, or to have quiche or the SM Sammie with eggs, tender belly bacon, cheese, and arugula on a potato roll ($7). Or, come in for lunch for nibbles to share with co-workers or the sandwich du jour to not share with anyone. Then come back for dinner (yes, you could do this in one day, it’s okay). This is the meal we visited for and had one delicious thing after another. Here’s how it went:
Nibble: Roasted Almonds ($4) served in a creamy, white compote. (Chef French showed us some of his thrift store collection of mismatched and charming dishes and creamers – another little touch that makes the place special.)
Appetizers: Beet Hummus ($4), half golden beet and half ruby beet were so good and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like beets. I’m now a “beetliever,” (yes, I said it) but only with this dish. The Roasted Mushroom Toast is a died-and-gone-to-heaven dish for a shroom-lover, made from multiple types of mushrooms, herbs, shallots and parmesan cheese, spread on a thick toast. It was heady and heavenly.
Entree: The Short Rib Tortellini ($14) are a brilliant invention, mixing flavorful tender meat inside plump tortellini pasta with nuggets of gala apple and butternut squash surrounding. It was beautiful. The Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon was the perfect accompaniment to this dish.
The Roasted Chicken ($14) is served with a seasonal veggie (roasted parmesan broccoli when we were there) and hot sauce butter. Sous Chef, Jeff Hickman, who is responsible for all non-dessert or pastry items at Sugarmill, brines the chicken for at least 24 hours. It was, hands down, the most flavorful chicken I’ve ever had. This is the flavor I hope for every time I make chicken. If it hadn’t been so delicious, I would have just wallowed in self-pity. The mildly peachy Ladd & Co. cocktail went with the chicken perfectly.
Dessert; And then came Sugarmill’s claim-to-fame – something sweet made by Chef Noah French. Although I leaned toward the Chocolate Hazelnut ($9) with hazlenut dacquoise, chocolate mousse, burnt orange caramel with a hazelnut macaroon, and my partner eyed the Bunch of Bananas ($11) being made for the lady down the way, with banana cheesecake, banana walnut cake, rum bananas and a banana ice cream float (all on one plate!), we went with The Noahsphere ($12).
Named after himself (because chefs and restaurant owners can do that), Chef Noah presents a hollow chocolate sphere filled with candied walnuts, flourless chocolate cake, house-made marshmallows, served atop vanilla mascarpone. Hot caramel is poured tableside (from one of those unique, tiny pitchers) melting a crevice into the sphere. Both in presentation and in eating, this dessert is an event. And I love eventful desserts. It makes all those calories so worth while!
There are reasons to visit Sugarmill all day long. Every element of the place is a treat, savory or sweet. Sugarmill is located at 2461 Larimer St. #101.
Extra: Read the interesting interviews, parts 1 and 2, in Westword’s Cafe Society blog.
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