Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sugar Toad

We went to the highly respected restaurant, Sugar Toad, in Naperville, in Naperville? Frankly, it was very very good and I would recommend it, but as I look back at other fine dining experiences, it was good and bordered on great.

First the food. Restaurants should know that if the service is fabulous and the room was awesome, but the food sucks, people will not come back. The food was fabulous. It was not froo-froo fussy with foams and whips and weird combinations of tastes to make it a gastronomic experience. However, it was visually stunning, beautifully prepared, complimentary flavors that were at times unique, and perfectly flavored and salted. We had the four course tasting menu and had the chef do a pescadarian (fish and veggies) menu. First we are fish eaters, no meat and I love to see what happens when we ask. The kitchen handled it with glee it seems. We did ask to have the beet salad included in as one of the courses, since in looking at the menu, it was one we both were very interested in. It was a hit.

The service was very good, but I kept finding them being a beat off the timing of the meal. The room was not full and yet the timing wasn't perfect. It may be the kitchen, but I really know the staff and the expeditor is more responsible for the timing of the courses than the kitchen.

The room is smaller than I expected with more bar than dining room. The Arista Hotel, where the restaurant is located, is one of those fancy chic-type places. Lots of modern looking design, light on inviting. There was a huge meeting across the lobby from the restaurant and there was a roar from it that carried across the lobby through the front door and down into the dining room. This isn't the restaurant's fault, but either close your doors or better sound proofing in the front of the room or something, because I don't like to have to raise my voice to talk across the table. The room also had a mural that covered what looked like a potential area for the restaurant. As I looked at it, it looked interesting, but the more I thought about it, it looked out of place. A white wall would have looked better.

Our meal was about $250 with tax and tip. Yup, it was expensive. And the big question is would I go again? Yes. And I recommend it to someone who likes interesting food. It is not a steak and potatoes place. It is not Charlie Trotters (thank god). I think Chef Sneed (now a consultant) and the Chef de Cuisine Rhyne do a great job of finding a balance between creating simple and elegance.