Upon entering Sugarhall, by the same people of Jigger and Pony next door–they even share the same kitchen, smart move, save space and manpower–it was not difficult to imagine that we had stepped into a tavern in a Western of cowboys, femmes fatales and bandits. Dark, woody, and homely. Even the servers and cooks were decked in checkered shirts. Rather theatrical. (The service, by the way, was excellent, though they were new hands.)
Baby spinach, ham, sunny side up, creme fraiche
The food was simple, and smart. The combinations worked, and the food could be cooked by anyone with basic culinary skills–but that was also my problem. I could have cooked the food at home myself, and saved the $142 we paid for two persons. OUCH!
For example, the baby spinach ($14) was merely blanched, and came with a sunny side up, parma ham, and creme fraiche–and when it arrived, we mixed them up ourselves. The appetizer, pork knuckle ($14, above), was really just the Chinese braised pork trotters, but with less salt.
Besides the simplicity of the food, our other issue was that the expensive mains didn’t came with sides–it wasn’t very difficult nor expensive to throw in fries and salad. The lamb saddle ($28, above) was delicious with a piquant jelly, and mint sauce, but the slab of lamb stood lonely. My spectacular oxtail burger ($24, below) was assembled with braised oxtail, egg, bacon, and pickles in a fantastic (home-made?) bun. It possessed all different flavors of sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and creaminess. But again, nothing I couldn’t make at home, and the burger stood alone without fries.
The only dish I couldn’t figure out how to make on my own was the dessert, foi gras ice cream profiteroles ($18). Unfortunately, it was as terrible as the foie gras I had at Skye (Jakarta). I said it had the stench of wet dog. Chiobu described it as the stink of dirt encrusted under the nail of the hallux. We ditched them after a bite each. We needed mint very, very desperately to clear the stench that lingered at the back of our throats.
Muay Thai Punch (Alcoholic Thai milk tea, $22)
I liked many things about Sugarhall. I liked its atmosphere, service, and intelligence to dress up simple food as expensive. But it was this disingenuousness that I disliked too. Too expensive, too gimmicky, and too smart for its own good. This is money ill spent. FOC Restaurant is 10 times better, and less expensive.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.