Jamaica: Lady Bosses

SugarKane – 699 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1L2
Country: Jamaica    
Seating: Indoor seating with a charming back patio in the warmer months. 
Dinner guests: Dancing Queen,  Mad Max & Pornstar Sam
Must-try dish: Jerk Chicken Bowl 
The high: The prices are fair and the dishes are massive, so go hungry. 
The low: You’ll want to make a reservation, even on a Wednesday, to get a table between 6PM and 8PM. 

It was crucial that we celebrate International Women’s Day at a restaurant owned and operated by women – SugarKane on the Danforth is exactly that. This gang of women cooked to bring friends and family together, this led to the opening of a catering business that ultimately turned into a restaurant offering food, drinks, and live music. 

SugarKane has tables to fit more than 30 people at a time plus several bar stools, and even with this, the restaurant is full every night of the week. They’re evidently doing something right, but it’s in fact a lot of things, from the trendy decor reflective of the islands, to the mouthwatering dishes that are all shareable, to the cocktail list with fun names that transport you to the beach. The friendly and helpful staff only enhances the already existing vibe of the place. 

The cocktail list is a good starting point for the meal. Caribbean dark and white rums are the spirit of choice in the majority of the cocktails with vodka making up the rest. There’s an entire section dedicated to mojito varieties, and the majority of the curated drinks on the list can be made without alcohol for those looking to drink something pretty but not hard. Both the cocktails and mocktails are decked out with funky garnishes and cool glassware. 

Once the drinks are sorted out, all the focus can turn to the food menu. Many of the dishes are sharable, and the main dishes are served in such generous sizes that it’s advised to share! 

You’re going to want at least one order of Uncle Ben’s Saltfish Cakes that come with five big pieces. The chunks of cod are seasoned with a bit of a spice kick and then battered to be fried and served to the table hot. The accompanies Mango habanero dip is spicy yet super flavourful. Another terrific option to eat single-handedly or with a group are the SugarKane Signature Wings, which are meaty bone-in chicken wings cooked in a jerk rub. They have a pungent sweet and tangy taste, super juicy and are highly recommended as a shared appetizer.

We were most excited for the Chicken & Waffle Sliders, which were a bit of a let down. The waffles were dry, and the waffle to chicken ratio was off. The waffle pieces were too thick for the pieces of fried chicken. It’s a good dish but pales in comparison to the ones above. 

The portion sizes for the main dishes are massive, and will likely have to be shared. The uncontested favourite of the night was the Jerk Chicken Bowl – there was about half a chicken’s worth of meat marinated in a heavenly jerk rub. It was a mix of sweet and savoury in taste and made for tender pieces of meat on top of a fragranced rice and beans number with coleslaw and plantains on the side. It was the only of four mains that had an empty plate at the end of the dinner. Possibly as it was placed directly in front of Andrea the whole dinner.

When enjoying a Jamaican meal, it would be a shame not to also enjoy oxtail. The Braised Oxtail Bowl had a rice and beans base with coleslaw and plantains off to the side, and it was topped with bite-sized pieces of oxtail meat that felt like biting into butter. Be careful, there are bones still hiding in there! 

The final bowl has similar side dishes to the first two but the protein was goat. The Curry Goat Bowl was the least favourite of the three but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Goat can be a tricky texture for some palates, and in this case, the meat was also marinated in a curry seasoning. If you’re in the mood for goat meat, or a goat lover in general, then it’s right up your alley. Though the addition of the curried chickpeas was particularly favoured by Pornstar Sam who went fishing into the bowl to eat every last chickpea in sight.

To switch things up, the fourth dish was a Creole Jambalaya, which would be a Caribbean-style paella. It’s a rice dish packed with chicken, shrimp, and sausage with peppers and cooked in a tomato sauce. The lack of spice in this dish is made up with the flavour. The tomato sauce mixed in with the meats and the rice is on the sweeter side, and therefore compliments some of the other dishes with its diversity in ingredients. 

As previously mentioned, this amount of food was far too much for our gang of five people, yet we were happy that we had the chance to try so many dishes and flavours. It also came at a fair price at the end of the dinner. We loved the food, the service, and the atmosphere, but while celebrating women this month, the thing that we most loved was that a group of women are the brains behind this awesome enterprise. Happy International Women’s Day to ladies near and far – we appreciate you. 

Eat with you soon, 

Mandrea Bike
(Mat & Andrea) 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s