On Friday, November 29, Noah French, pastry chef of TAG, will open Sugarmill at 2470 Broadway, finally unleashing the visions of sugarplums that have been dancing in his head for the past 25 years. It's a lifelong sweet dream for French, who partnered with Troy Guard, exec-chef owner of TAG, TAG Raw Bar, TAG Burger Bar and the forthcoming Los Chingones, on the Ballpark dessert bar and cafe, a concept that's been in the works for more than three years.
"I've wanted to do a place like this for as long as I can remember -- a place that does made-to-order desserts that amount to more than a slice of cake on the plate -- and Troy and I first started talking about this three years ago, ten years after we first met," says French, who originally worked with Guard at Roy's in New York City in 2000.
The 1,000-square-foot space seats 28 and features a weathered community table and a marble-surfaced chef's counter that overlooks the expansive open kitchen; vintage-inspired spring green-and-dusk black wallpaper; chocolate-brown leather banquettes; butterscotch-hued walls muraled with a sepia-tinted painting of Ladd & Co, Hawaii's first sugar mill; and a grab-and-go dessert case provisioned with tarts, parfaits, cupcakes, French macarons, brownies and birthday cakes, the latter of which will be created by Kelly McGeehan, who spent three years at D Bar before joining French as his cohort in sugar.
A separate retail component encompassing dog bones, housemade marshmallows, "Kitchen Sink" chocolate chip cookies and bags of flavored popcorn, popped in-house, will finish the space, which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday.
French's daily-changing breakfast board, headlined by egg sandwiches, quiches, breakfast burritos, pastries, muffins, granola parfaits, croissants and tarts, along with fresh-squeezed juices and caffeine-jolted java drinks, is designed for those on the go (tables, however, will be available for lingerers), while lunch and dinner will be overseen by a staff of servers, all of whom have spent time training at TAG. "My goal is to have a dream team and surround myself with great talent, and everyone we've hired is working at TAG for a week to immerse themselves in our culture," says French.
His lunch menu trumpets salads; sandwiches, including prosciutto, mozzarella and arugula splayed on a housemade baguette; beet hummus; oven-roasted sunchokes; and a brilliant kale dip studded with specks of pancetta, while the dinner menu expands the repertoire: beef Wellington, roasted turkey pot pie, roasted-chicken tortellini and short-rib tortellini all make an appearance.
Sweets, which number five at lunch and ten at dinner, zigzag from a pineapple upside-down cake to a banana-walnut cake that's paired with a banana ice cream float. "My desserts are simple, but they have pronounced flavors, and they're approachable," says French.
A small boutique wine list -- complemented by a half-dozen well-chosen beers, bubbles and a single cocktail named Ladd & Co that combines white wine with prosecco, Contratto biano and peach shrub -- rounds out the beverage syllabus, which also includes dessert wines, sherries and ports.
In the future, notes French, he'll add dim sum dessert nights and baking classes for kids, which he'll teach in his interactive kitchen. "I love how the kitchen is laid out," says French. "It's the kind of kitchen where you can see everything that's being made, and I love talking to guests and asking them to try this or that, and when you put in that kind of effort with your guests -- when you engage them -- the rewards are great," he adds.
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When Sugarmill opens at 4 p.m. on November 29, the first 25 customers will receive a complimentary Ladd & Co cocktail and a free pastry. Here's an early glimpse of French's sweet and savory creations, along with a few photos of the space, which is still undergoing construction.