Executive chef and partner Timon Balloo brought his Miami restaurant Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill to the Venetian a year ago with a laid-back vibe worthy of its beach home. The restaurant uses three methods of preparation — an open fire grill, raw bar and traditional kitchen — to create the small plates menu and popular daily brunch. Here, Balloo talks about the first year of bringing a taste of Miami to Las Vegas.
What made you decide to open Sugarcane in Las Vegas?
While Vegas is a city that never sleeps, Miami has the vibrancy and spice to go all night long, so the two cities go hand in hand and are both perfect for the Sugarcane raw bar grill energy.
What have you learned in the first year of running the restaurant in Las Vegas?
Vegas is a very cool city with a vibrant population, both locals, and visitors. I’m still learning more about the latter, getting a better understanding of what visitors are looking for in Las Vegas restaurants and how we can give them the best experience possible.
Is it different than running the restaurant in Miami or the new one in Brooklyn? How?
Our Las Vegas restaurant is very different. Miami and Brooklyn both have heavy local traffic as opposed to the Vegas clientele coming from all over the world.
What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
I leave design to one of our managing partners, Shimon Bokovza. We wanted to recreate the energy of Miami in a sophisticated way for Las Vegas.
You’re redesigning the entrance. What went into that decision?
We wanted to try to recreate the openness and the energy of our Miami location, which we think this new design will really align with our inviting mantra of eating well, sitting back and hanging a while.
Did you change the menu at all? If so, what was the menu testing process like?
We've changed several dishes since opening, collecting guests' feedback during their visit. You'll still find our signature dishes, but we've added a few that are offered in Vegas only including the Kinilaw Kampachi, Salmon Poke, and Kobe Wagyu Large Plate.
Has Las Vegas embraced the new location?
Definitely! Our goal is to have both the Vegas locals and many more visitors both come through our doors to experience our shareable plates concept.
Six months in, what changed?
We’ve changed our music that plays in the restaurant, which really helps set the vibe of a guest’s experience. We have also changed up the menu, most notably offering our brunch menu every day of the week — not just on weekends.
What’s the most unexpected thing that happened in the first year?
That our brunch would be such a hit. Since July, we have been serving our signature brunch dishes such as “fat boy” hash, truffled toad in the hole, and oxtail Benedict every day of the week.
What's the must-order dish of the moment?
Our maguro tuna tartare from our raw bar.
What's on tap for the future?
Continuing to build our brand and grow with the city of Las Vegas exploring the many local cultures that reside here.
• All Coverage of Sugarcane [ELV]