Food writers tend to take the concept of dining very seriously. I do not agree with the concept of a restaurant/club/lounge, in fact I consider it an abomination in the natural laws of food consumption. Watching a waiter wiggle his way around drunk patrons by the bar to get to my table is utter disservice to the food. Especially… when the food’s actually impressive.
Such is the scene at Sugar Dining Den and Social Club (a mouthful), located discretely in a strip mall not too far from Roosevelt Field. During the day, its unassuming store front gets lost in between neighbors like Staples and Party City. Around dinner time, phase one of the transformation begins. As luxury cars begin rolling in, part of the strip mall is closed and turned into a valet parking lot. The music is turned up, and dinner is served.
For the most part, the cuisine is above average for Long Island. Despite the menu’s lack of focus, it’s still conceived by someone with solid culinary talent. Since inception, Sugar was helmed by Chef Hok Chin, who has a solid resume and earlier this year left to open Duo on Madison Ave. On my review of Duo I complained about the lack of focus of the menu, high prices, and the restaurant’s lack of identity. The same can be said about Sugar. With large flat screen TVs playing sports, and loud music, it’s probably not the place to take a date for a meal if you plan to have meaningful conversations.
What Sugar does very well is the 2nd transformation. As tables finish dinner, they’re moved literally out of the restaurant onto the curb until the main dining space is transformed into a dance floor. (I often wonder what happens to patrons who eat too slow). The DJ hits the booth, out comes the velvet rope and bottle service. People arriving after 11pm would never believe it was a restaurant.
If what you’re looking for is a convenient one-stop night out on Long Island, where you don’t have to tip the valet twice, Sugar’s your place. As for me, I’ll arrive after 11.