Savoring Sugarmill, Now Open

By Ruth Tobias  |  December 3, 2013
Credit: Ruth Tobias

When we first chatted with pastry chef Noah French about a month ago, the picture he painted of Sugarmill - the Ballpark bakery-cafe he opened on November 29 with TAG Restaurant Group’s Troy Guard - was as vivid as could be. He spoke of the pastry case up front, which would be lined with parfaits, macarons, cupcakes and more; so it is. He described the chef’s counter at which he’d hold court from the exhibition kitchen, and there he stands, grinning like, well, a kid in a candy store. And he explained how the menu would feature not only desserts but also savory options for breakfast, lunch and dinner: a daily quiche, some sandwiches, a few plated entrees. On that score, he may have downplayed his plans a bit. Turns out the repertoire is pretty spectacular.

We’re talking chorizo-and-egg burritos and marshmallow waffles with candied pecans for starters. Roasted sunchokes with hazelnuts, warm kale dip with prosciutto and a foie gras torchon with kumquat marmalade, plus a dozen or so other items, at midday. And a similar but slightly larger lineup come evening, which includes short-rib tortellini, roast-turkey pot pie and a classic beef Wellington that Guard calls the “fan favorite already. Who doesn’t love beef in pastry, right?”

The same can generally be said of sweets - and French is delivering as promised with some 10 signature creations, five of which are available in the daytime. For instance, in addition to the famed Chocolate Sphere (now officially called the Noahsphere), there’s pineapple upside-down cake with toasted-coconut ice cream, an apple-almond tart with brown sugar-honey sauce and flourless chocolate cake with jasmine cream: “I play around a lot with teas,” says French. “You have to use a good jasmine tea, one that’s very floral and fragrant.” Speaking of beverages, the booze selection is trim but intriguing, ranging from a handful of craft brews to cool table wines like Tikves Vranec from Macedonia, as well as late-harvest bottlings, port and more.

It was in early 2012 that French, who had met Guard during their respective stints at Roy’s Restaurants in Hawaii, first came to visit Denver with an eye toward a place just like Sugarmill. As he recalls, “We drove around the Highlands, Downtown - at that point Troy didn’t have a set spot. But after two days, he said, ‘What do you think? You 75%, 80%?’ And I said, ‘I’m 100%. You had me at, “Let’s open up a dessert shop.”’” Again, he may be understating his efforts: looks more like 110% to us.

2461 Larimer St.; 303-297-3540