Be ready for a Sweet-Tooth Spectacular at Sugar Factory
I should have known Sugar Factory American Brasserie at Foxwoods was going to be an experience when I first glimpsed the menu online. Pages upon pages of cocktail listings kick off a manual-sized booklet of drinks, treats and actual foods.
Little did I know what other surprises Sugar Factory has in store — some good, some unexpected.
For starters, when I went to make a reservation via Open Table for four two weeks in advance, I found myself without viable options. I don’t know about you, but I’m not big on dinner at 10 p.m. No problem, I thought. It’s a new-ish venue and people are excited. I picked a new date a few more weeks from my original and ta-dah! A table at 7:45 p.m.
Back to those cocktails. Sugar Factory offers signature candy-inspired “Goblets” and martinis (along with standard bar options, thank goodness). A Goblet is 60 ounces of candy-brew, and they can be made without booze. White Gummi Cocktail anyone? That one features gummi worms mixed into the drink. Or consider the Energy Bear, a Red Bull Energy Drink and Gummi Bear concoction.
Most of us could not commit to 60 ounces of anything, let alone a glassful of hangover. Luckily, one of us volunteered to bear the brunt of the drink, and the rest of us sampled it and a few featured martinis.
Couple problems: first, the menu descriptions for the Goblets and most martinis aren’t particularly useful. Take the Sunshine Tea Goblet ($36; yes, you read that right) description: “This tea-based cocktail is a perfect blend of sweetness and sour lemon, bringing a ray of sunshine into Sugar Factory every day.”
The only thing we can surmise from that is that there’s probably tea in this Goblet. As for the sweetness, sour and lemon, we had only our imaginations to guide us as to their provenance. Still, I generally like to know what I’m drinking.
Here’s the listing for Coconut Chocolate Bar Martini ($16): “A lovely medley of chocolate, coconut, and nuts will make you think we melted a candy bar straight into your glass.”
Helpful, huh? We’re guessing this drink was something like a White Russian with Godiva chocolate liquor or something like it tumbled together and bedecked with a not-unpleasant rim of chocolate sauce and peanuts (we think). Despite its candy-like origins, this drink wasn’t overly sweet and rather smooth and enjoyable. We enjoyed it much more than the Sunshine Tea Goblet, which started fresh and lemony and ended with notes of fake fruit, with no “tea” flavor that we could detect. As for the Blueberry Bikini Martini ($16), not one person at the table who tried it liked it. We didn’t expect it to taste like ACTUAL blueberry, but it didn’t even taste like fake blueberry. More like children’s cough syrup shaken with ice. For what it’s worth, it did come with a cool gummi dolphin garnish.
The other problem? No prices on the drink menus. We expected casino pricing to take effect, but none of us could have predicted a $36 cocktail. Now, there IS entertainment value built into that price: servers bring the Goblets in two parts: drink base in shaker and goblet glass full of ice. When the server pours the base onto the ice, it creates foggy vapors that we hope aren’t terribly toxic. I’m not certain that’s worth $36.
Our waitress told us the drink-menu-sans-pricing was a conscious decision by management, and she readily admitted that policy does not make her job any easier.
Chances are, if you have a hankering for a certain dish, Sugar Factory has it — from crepes (sweet and savory), pancakes and waffles to “monster burgers,” NY strip steak, and pasta entrees with much, much more in between. (Among the desserts? Insane Milkshakes bedecked in things like candy bars, Twinkies, or a slider and the $99 King Kong Sundae for 12.)
We needed time to think, so we ordered the Sampler Platter ($26) to tide us over as we bent over our menus. The platter includes Buttermilk Onion Rings, Crispy Chicken Fingers, Buffalo Wings, Mac and Cheese Pops (fried mac and cheese balls on a skewer) and dipping sauces, and the table agreed each item was better than expected. Strangely, the mac and cheese pops were the least exciting component and the wings were the best — the former a bit dense and dry at the same time; the latter, well-cooked and prepared with a tasty and tangy, spicy sauce. The rings are among the best I’ve sampled, and the fingers quite flavorful. As for the dipping sauces, they all pretty much tasted the same, like a generic ranch sauce, although we think the chunkiest one was a bleu cheese sauce.
Generally, everyone enjoyed what they ordered for a meal, with opinions ranging from “very good” to “it was fine.” Among the “very goods” was my margherita pizza ($14), thanks to its surprisingly crisp and flavorful crust, bright tomato sauce, and well-sourced fresh mozzarella. The unfortunately named Garbage Salad ($16) was another standout, but what’s not to love about a giant salad of Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado with generous portions of salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, provolone and croutons? Plus, the accompanying Lemon Herb Vinaigrette was delightful. My husband’s choice of Country Fried Chicken and Waffles ($25) earned multiple raves, too. Recipes for this cult-favorite dish vary, but Sugar Factory’s preparation of Buttermilk Fried Chicken served over waffles with White Cheddar-Maple Mornay Sauce is a winning combination of sweet and savory flavor and contrasting textures. No one aspect of the dish overwhelmed any other.
In the “it was fine” category was the Sugar Factory Burger, which, for $16, ought to be excellent. Yes, the patty is made from “Grass Fed Angus Beef,” but it didn’t knock our socks off. And, yes, the toppings were well thought out (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and crispy on-ions), but the Sugar Factory Sauce that also comes on it interfered with all of the above. Like the Sunshine Tea, it started out fresh and tangy, and ended with an odd note — this time of relish. We did enjoy the burger’s toasted brioche bun, though.
We had a similar reaction to the Country Fried Chicken entree ($24), a “Crispy Breaded Leg, Thigh and Breast served with Macaroni & Cheese and Homemade Buffalo Sauce” per the menu. Once again, the mac and cheese underwhelmed, but we enjoyed the tender chicken, which retained the right amount of moisture, and the batter offered some nice spice notes.
During our visit, multiple birthday parties were underway, and perhaps that the best use of a colorful, candy-coated venue like Sugar Factory. The meal is almost secondary to the fun-fun-fun vibe they are attempting to cultivate, and that’s fine if you’re prepared. So take note, save up, and remember it’s going to be an experience!
If you go
Sugar Factory American Brasserie
Foxwoods Resort Casino in the Fox Theater District
Hours: 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturday
Cuisine: American pub fare on steroids: big burgers, milkshakes, crepes, steaks, and much, much more, with emphasis on sweet treats covered in candy.
Atmosphere: Tasteful interior décor is a take on maltshops of yore. It’s a large space with tables and booths that gets loud quickly.
Service: Mostly friendly, but long waits for each course, and it took us 45 minutes to get glasses of water due to some snafu in the dishwashing department. Still, we arrived late, and Open Table did not convey an update to Sugar Factory on the size of our party, but our hostess still accommodated the new reservation after a quick word with our elected spokesperson.
Prices: Pricey. Be aware that the signature Goblets are in the $30 range; burgers and crepes average around $17; a club sandwich (with fries) is $16.
Handicapped access: Provided; but the place was very crowded on a recent Saturday, which made entrance and egress slow-going.
Reservations: Available and highly recommended
Credit cards: Accepted
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