Monday, May 10, 2010

Night and Day at Sugar Mags

I'm back! I'm back! After a few week hiatus due to work, I am back with some new food reviews, music musings, and the like.

I've wanted to review this Gloucester fave for awhile, but I wanted to wait until I returned for a fresh bite to eat. Well, I got to go back for both breakfast and lunch two weeks in a row, so now I can do a meal vs. meal sort of review. So now the morning and afternoon review of Sugar Magnolias, a popular Gloucester haunt on Main St. Sugar Mags has been opened for years and is always packed for breakfast. Unlike other Gloucester breakfast restaurants, Sugar Mags tries to dress up old standards such as pancakes, eggs, and sandwiches. I'll break this review into Breakfast and Lunch:

Any Cape Ann resident can tell you that getting a table on weekends at Sugar Mags can take awhile or be at times impossible. Most recently, I went there for my birthday breakfast with Ricky. We lucked out this time and didn't have to wait too long, but I've had to wait for about 30+ minutes on busier weekends. A nice touch, though, is that there is complimentary coffee for patrons who need to stand around for a bit. But don't worry, as it's worth the wait.

Sugar Mags' breakfast menu is quite expansive, covering all staples such as eggs, pancakes, french toast, and omelets. Not only do they have traditional flavors, like blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict, but also twists on classics. The last time I was there, I got the crunchy French Toast, and Ricky got the Irish Eggs Benedict. Crunch French Toast is a thickly cut bread coated with granola, then cooked. The granola adds a distinctive flavor and texture, which was nice.

Irish Eggs Benedict is a favorite of mine as well. Instead of Canadian Bacon and an English Muffin, Sugar Mags serves a poached egg and hollandaise sauce over home made hash and grilled corn bread. This version feels far heartier than it's original counterpart. The hash is delicious on its own, but soars in the dish.

I also strongly recommend the Carrot Cake pancakes, plump with carrots and raisins and served with a maple butter. On a prior visit, Ricky and I split an order and had it with eggs. It may be a bit too filling and sweet on its own, but was a nice "palate cleaner" with our more savory dishes.

Prices were decent, especially for the large servings. Our egg dishes came with a generous order of hash browns. Service was spotty, and we had to wait a bit for a full place setting, but I blame that on the very crowded restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area and looking for a creative twist on the traditional fare.

The following week, we found ourselves back at Sugar Mags, only this time for lunch. It was a very different dining experience. Sugar Mags' lunch menu includes twists on favorites, such as chicken salads, clubs, and the like, but I feel it missed the mark ever so slightly. First off, seating was not an issue this second time around. I don't think it was a fluke, as I've walked past it on other weekends at lunchtime, and have seen many empty seats.

The sandwiches were interesting. I got the curried chicken salad, which included grapes and walnuts. The curry added an interesting flavor, and it was nice to have the grapes add a sweet note and cut down on spiciness. My guest got the chicken club, which he said was tasty, but appeared to be a little greasy and messy. Ricky got a buffalo chicken wrap, and had no complaints on spiciness and amount of blue cheese in the wrap.

The portions seemed a bit less generous at lunchtime. Fries were available, and were plentiful, but if you didn't opt to add fries, you got a single bag of Lays potato chips. Standard fare, and as Ricky said, a little disappointing if you know that a few hours earlier, you could be enjoying fresh hash browns. It seems a shame they don't provide their own chips, or a more substantial brand of potato chips.

All in all, while I didn't hate lunch at Sugar Mags, knowing how great breakfast is, I'd recommend you visit in the morning instead. You'll be pleasantly surprised with their dishes and the ambiance of the restaurant.


Anonymous said...

"Sugar Magnolia" is a Grateful Dead song, so is the restaurant Dead-themed at all?

Landry said...

No, it's more reclaimed (or made to look reclaimed) furniture with funky/retro artwork and photography on the walls. Very little Dead-inspiration.