I’m pretty sure everyone in Edmonton under the age of 30 has either been to, or heard of Sugarbowl.
Hailed as ‘the one good brunch place’ in Edmonton, Sugarbowl is known for its chicken and waffles as well as its expansive beer selection.
The problem with places like this is that everyone succumbs to groupthink and it’s hard to get an honest opinion of the food without getting sucked into the endless ‘MUH CHICKN’ WAFFLES’ circlejerk.
So let’s try some of the other brunch items (dinner/bar will be reviewed in another post) and see what happens.
If you’ve never been, Sugarbowl is located off 109th street and 88th avenue, right next to the Garneau theatre and within walking distance of the University.
It’s a small restaurant, and seemingly always packed. There isn’t a reservation policy for brunch, so if you’re going during the weekend, be ready for a short line-up.
The interior is hard to describe. A curved wooden bar with numerous taps takes up a third of the restaurant, while dented wooden tables and chairs are squeezed into the remaining floor space. Terrible local art by shitty local artists adorn the walls. While the “art” itself is of poor quality and questionable artistic value, they add to the bohemian feel of the restaurant.
Service is generally responsive, however due to the hectic nature of service and the crowded restaurant, may seem a bit rushed at times. Regardless of the crowd, it does seem like the servers genuinely care about your experience, and will accommodate your needs and/or complaints. The only issue is spending 5 minutes attempting to make eye contact with someone trying to avoid your gaze like it’s the fucking plague..
Because brunch is essentially replacing both breakfast and lunch, you’re allowed to order way too much food.
We started with the face-sized cinnamon rolls, which were pretty fucking delicious. They were soft, warm, chewy, completely covered in cinnamon sugar and awesome with a slab of butter.
Next up were the poached eggs with potatoes and béchamel sauce. Presentation wise, it was acceptable, with nice usage of colors and nicely poached eggs, but it was lacking in the taste and texture department. The eggs themselves were adequately poached, with a runny yolk and smooth white, but the sauce just didn’t work. Poached eggs are traditionally served with a more acidic hollandaise sauce to cut through the richness of the yolk and butter. The béchamel in this case was too bland and unnecessarily creamy. Oh, and they used cornbread instead of English muffins and back bacon instead of normal fucking bacon. There is no possible explanation for this besides the urge to be a special little snowflake, and the ‘SugarBowl Benny’ ends up tasting worse in every way compared to a ‘NormalFucking Benny’. The bread is dense and greasy, the bacon is bland and the sauce is flat out wrong.
The potatoes were almost inedible. I generally expect hash browns to be crispy, but our spuds turned out completely soft and drenched in grease. To make matters worse, there was almost no seasoning. Per my discussion with the waitress, SugarBowl cannot serve crispy hash browns as they’re cooked in a batch at the beginning of service and left in a vat until needed. It would just be far too impractical to fry up a new order.
To their credit, I was offered another side, but it doesn’t really make up for cutting so many corners on their fucking potatoes.
My lovely companion had the fruit and waffles, which were, sure enough, fruity and waffle-y. Jokes aside, it was a pretty mean waffle and the grapes were kinda kick-ass.
Oh, and I had a cappuccino.
It was pretty.
All things considered, stick to the safe bets at Sugar Bowl. The only adventurous item we ordered tasted like a limp, greasy sock, while the cinnamon bun and waffles were predictably delicious.
So does this place live up to the hype?
In terms of brunch, there are better, more well rounded restaurants in Edmonton. Admittedly, the chicken, waffles and cinnamon buns are solid, but not special enough for me to return time and time again.
I could order a bucket of KFC and toss some batter into my waffle iron and I wouldn’t need to deal with the crowd, blasphemous eggs benedict, squelchy potatoes, and the weeping sores they’ve nailed to the walls in support of local artists.