Despite its location on the ultra-hot strip of Upper Larimer that includes Work & Class, Amerigo Delicatus and Los Chingones, Sugarmill is the only place within a scone's throw that's open for a quick Saturday morning bite. Troy Guard and his pastry chef partner Noah French may have been targeting an evening crowd with their dessert lounge and cafe, but their short brunch menu offers sweet satisfaction too.
See also: Get Up for Brunch at Root Down
Only open for weekend brunch on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the kitchen also offers a breakfast menu throughout the week from 10 a.m. to noon. Sugarmill is first and foremost a bakery, with a few savory options for those looking for something a little more filling. In defiance of its crowded night scene, the neighborhood was pretty quiet on our walk over; Sugarmill seemed like a little-known gem amid sexier company. Parking in this area, usually at a premium during the dinner rush, isn't an issue on Saturday mornings. The café, like the street, was mostly empty, making it a great spot for either a cute morning date or a bigger group looking to get seated right away.
A cross between twee retro elegance and vintage industrial, the small space is decidedly geared toward the artsy RiNo crowd. Thoughtful details lifted from malt shops and Parisian cafes -- windmill-patterned wallpaper, candy-striped drinking straws, patterned plates (mine were polka-dotted) -- compete for attention. Between the open kitchen, communal tables and expansive counter seating, it's more than likely you'll be making new brunch companions, whether they're other patrons or a betta fish in a tank on the counter who belongs to Guard's daughter Grace.
Sugarmill sports a small south-facing patio, not the best for a warm and sunny morning, but a necessity for us this time, since I had my dog with us. The metal tables and silverware seemed to melt under the sweltering sun and were at times too hot to touch. Our waiter sympathized and thoughtfully offered to bring us glasses of ice halfway though the meal. That sums up the service: attentive and gracious. But Troy -- please invest in some patio umbrellas.
Mimosas are the only breakfast cocktails on the menu, but the fully stocked coffee bar more than compensates and the iced chai has just the right amount of sweetness to ease you into the morning without the expected sugar crash. Other typical breakfast beverages like tea and orange juice (the menu says "fresh" but it was hard to tell) are also available.
So compelling is the colorful pastry counter, it's impossible to just look without indulging; I chose a fluffy, delicious and warm blueberry muffin big enough to be easily shared (not that I did -- a gluten-free brunch companion makes for a handy excuse to indulge). The brunch dishes are all decidedly simple and straightforward, demonstrating the kitchen's mastery of breakfast basics. Quite possibly the perfect breakfast sandwich, the SM Sammie overflowed with scrambled eggs, crisp applewood bacon, arugula, and melty Munster cheese. Even the toasted "everything" bun added crunch and flavor, although I eventually removed the top bun -- it was just too much after the blueberry muffin. My friend's Denver omelette, with nothing other ham, onions, bell pepper and cheddar, was so fluffy it barely stayed on the fork.
Daily quiche flavors (like chicken and red pepper - which I skipped this time), along with those heavenly muffins, definitely mean I'll be heading back to Sugarmill soon. Desserts may be the specialty here, but it's nice to know there's a go-to spot for a secret breakfast while the rest of the RiNo residents line up at their familiar favorites.
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Brunch: it's a time-honored tradition, a mingling of friends over bottomless mimosas for chatting and gluttonous gorging on pancake stacks and egg creations. If your typical Sunday morning debate goes back and forth between heading to the reliable greasy spoon or someplace new and trendy, indecision could have you growing roots in the couch. Meanwhile, wait times at Denver favorites won't get any shorter. So that's where Out to Brunch comes in: In this weekly feature, Lauren Monitz will explore new places and revisit the old faithfuls to help you decide where to go on your next brunch adventure.