Sugar Cafe Hits a Sweet Note
Potomac Avenue, off of Route 19 in Dormont, is known for its breakfast. Nestled on the corner of Potomac and Glenmore is the famed Dor-Stop Restaurant, a classic diner with a menu packed with traditional fare. Barely a year ago though, a tiny shop called Sugar Cafe opened a few blocks up the street, facing the challenge of proving that there was room for two hit restaurants on Potomac.
So far, the only place where it’s hard to get a seat is inside Sugar Cafe. There’s no doubt that the place is a hole-in-the-wall; it has none of the warmth of Dor-Stop with the scuffed mien of a hipster hangout instead. Nevertheless, the food is worth the hike for East Enders wary of crossing a bridge to find it.
Walking into Sugar Cafe on a busy Sunday morning is bewildering. The small, airy space triples as a bistro, a bakery, and a coffeehouse. Patrons order breakfast or lunch at the register up front, beside the glass display case filled with gourmet pastries, and pick a table to the left. A niche in the bay window to the right is fitted with lounge chairs and a coffee table. The place bustles with activity as the staff rings up orders, serves food, fills take-out requests, makes La Prima branded coffee, and packages up baked goodies.
No wonder there was a wait for just about everything. I ordered a delicious, foamy hot chocolate with a distinctly sugary aftertaste that arrived well after a companion’s cappuccino (which, by the way, was nearly as good as the cappuccino served at the original La Prima Espresso Bar in the strip district).
The food took quite a bit longer but was worth the wait. The star of breakfast was the Cinnamon French Toast. Fluffy without being too fluffy, coated in caramelized slices of banana, toasted pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon cream cheese, this was not french toast for the faint of heart. Then again, nothing at Sugar Cafe is for those with high cholesterol or a bulging waistline. The cinnamon cream cheese was incredibly rich, but a delicate contrast to the flavorful pecans; the caramelized banana slices were the coup de grâce.
Sugar Cafe’s Buttermilk Waffles were quite good as well. Topped with a raspberry jam and vanilla crème fraiche, besides being doused in just the right amount of maple syrup, the waffles are nothing to sniff at. Sugar, as would be expected, is the dominant ingredient in all of the cafe’s sweeter offerings.
The savory eggs were less impressive than the sweets. The Sugar Scrambles, weekend specials served with thinly sliced home fries and sourdough toast, are omelets stuffed with all manner of fillings. A taste of the Veggies with Parmesan scramble was good, but not great, though. The eggs were fresh and loaded with juicy vegetables and just the right amount of cheese. The flavors didn’t pop though, and the eggs were altogether too dry.
Lunch at Sugar Cafe is decidedly more impressive if you wish to go the savory route. The Grilled Cheese on Sourdough is stacked with tomatoes and melty swiss, monterey jack, and sharp cheddar cheeses. It’s a simple sandwich that packs an explosion of taste. The Black Forest Ham on French Baguette, topped with arugula, Gouda cheese, sliced granny apples, and spicy mustard, along with the Roasted Chicken on Sourdough, packed with jack cheese, spinach, red onion, roasted tomato, and chipotle mayo, are both well worth the trip too.
The food is slightly overdone at Sugar Cafe; I might even dare to say that it is a tad too sugary. That said, there’s no doubt that this is a restaurant juggling three distinct identities, and the food doesn’t suffer much for it. In fact, the food is for the most part quite unpretentious and decidedly delectable. It is what it is: a great addition to Potomac Street that stands up, without issue, next to Dor-Stop.