Sugarbeet is yet another game attempt at fostering the laudable imperative toward local, seasonal fine dining. Taking up a small corner of what appears to be a large warehouse, Chef Seth Witherspoon’s concept transcends its odd location (an unlikely Longmont locale reminiscent of a dodgy shipping pier) to offer tasty, sometimes dazzling cuisine, with steady, friendly service.
The first thing to know about Sugarbeet is that it is small. Although there are plans afoot to expand the space, for now the dining room is cozy and tables are at a premium. Having not anticipated this with a reservation, we were thankful to be seated promptly at a cozy two-top. The tastefully decorated dining room manages a warm coziness despite 20-foot ceilings cleverly hidden by some carefully placed wood beams and truckloads of black paint.
Our server, who presented us with a delectable offering of specials and a wine list featuring many popular and reasonably priced labels, approached us promptly.
We opted for a Semillon from L’Ecole No. 41, a well-balanced selection from a boutique Washington winery. Alongside this cheesy-nosed, slightly acidic selection, we sampled the Sweet Pea and Fava Hummus ($7), a delightful take on the Mediterranean classic served with ample herbed, grilled flat bread. The latter was not only filling, but its flavorful nature also overpowered the sweetness of the hummus. We found ourselves simply scooping up the green goodness with our forks in order not to miss out.
As an intermezzo, we bit on the Fresh Raspberry Salad ($11), a mélange of greens, bright red berries, local Madhava honey, toasted almonds, Haystack Mountain feta cheese and Palisade peach vinaigrette. This was also a lovely accompaniment to our wine, but we felt that there was little subtlety in the dish’s construction. The acidity of the berries and the creamy, lactic presence of the feta were both overpowered by the concert of honey and peaches, and the salad came off as a bit treacly.
My vegetarian partner chose one of the two entrees open to her, each were modifications of meat-bearing dishes rather than stand-alone concepts.
The Bucatini Pasta ($15, $18 with wild boar sausage) featured a long, spaghetti-like noodle that was hollow tossed with a sweet pepper ragu, fried eggplant and fresh shaved parmigiano and reggiano. This was a fresh-tasting, uncomplicated treat and offered, with its unusual pasta, a very interesting texture.
The Certified Angus Filet Mignon ($26), meanwhile, was simply gorgeous. Grilled to a perfect medium rare, the filet’s charry outside melded with its tender juicy inside and absolutely melted with each bite. Accompanied by assorted grilled vegetables, tasty roasted fingerling potatoes and a dreamy green peppercorn sauce, the filet was the highlight of the visit and the best steak I’ve tasted in two years. Kudos!
Aside from the heavy-handed flavors detailed above, our main question upon leaving Sugarbeet was the degree to which they are honoring their stated goal of offering local, seasonal product.
Much of their menu features vegetables that, to our understanding, are past season in Colorado (asparagus and sweet peas) while omitting others that seem to speak of autumn (squash, for example, is notably absent). Perhaps the fall iteration of the menu is just around the corner.
Overall, we were impressed, and the locals certainly have caught on to Sugarbeet since its December 2006 opening. Its location means that it will need to foster a “destination” status, and, based on our visit, it’s well on its way.
101 Pratt St Unit A, Longmont
Bottom line: A comfortable and indulgent dining experience free from attitude.