2012-01-18 / Restaurant of the Week


By Teresa Barile

Mardi Gras is just a few weeks away (February 21) but don’t wait until then to visit Astoria’s only restaurant featuring Louisiana home style cooking and spirits. “Sugar Freak” is a labor of love of one Astoria native, whose parents came from New Orleans, bearing traditions and recipes from one of the country’s most culinary diverse and exciting cities. Every detail of this distinctively decorated restaurant was hand chosen from recycled, reclaimed, or repurposed materials. The unique wrought iron metal on the façade of the restaurant was salvaged from the wreckage of hurricane Katrina. The dining room features handmade light fixtures made from old-fashioned milk bottles, kitschy, retro tables, chairs and curtains made from vintage tablecloths. Even the bathrooms are cleverly outfitted! Best of all, the food and spirits at Sugar Freak are what keep this quaint restaurant full from lunch through dinner, seven days a week, with brunch on weekends.

We started with a refreshing cocktail called “Prohibition Lemonade” made from sweet and tangy

lemonade, vodka and a splash of hibiscus flower liqueur. Classic New Orleans Sazerac is a whiskybased cocktail that’s wildly popular along with Pimm’s Cup and Swamp Juice. The bananas Foster martini sounds intriguing too and Sugar Freak also serves wines and beers locally brewed in New Orleans.

Order their famous deviled eggs, topped with either bacon, spicy crab, or crispy chicken ($9). Charbroiled oysters are a real treat, as these sweet mollusks absorb wonderful flavor from the grill, topped with Sugar Freak’s secret sauce. My friend and I devoured the “Purple Haze” barbecued shrimp, made with their own sauce composed of “NoLa’s” Purple Haze beer. These succulent shrimp were tender and very flavorful, with plenty to share ($12). “Boudin balls” are tender morsels made from deep fried crawfish or pork sausage, served with Arborio rice. “Debris” and cheese fries make a great appetizer, side dish or bar snack, topped with beef gravy, Cajun cheese sauce and jalapeño peppers.

Chef Christian Fernandez uses recipes from the owner’s mother and elevates them to perfection. Entrees include classic jambalaya, decidedly spicy and chock full of savory Creole rice, chunks of chicken and Andouille sausage ($13). Crawfish etoufée is a classic example of New Orleans cuisine, made from a “roux” based Cajun sauce, whole crawfish and white rice ($14). Red beans and rice is one of my faves, made with smokey grilled sausage. Sugar Freak’s fried chicken is the best around, with your choice of white or dark meat. Platters such as the 12-ounce rib-eye steak, blackened catfish, shrimp or oysters, include your choice of one side dish. You ought to order a side dish of their outrageously delicious macaroni and cheese, or perhaps some collard greens or New Orleans style potato salad.

Sandwiches at Sugar Freak are offered for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and are available in whole or half sizes, depending on your appetite. The traditional “Muffuletta” sandwich is loaded with ham, mortadella, genoa salami, mozzarella, and provolone, topped with olive salad on chewy Sicilian style bread. This sandwich will keep you full until tomorrow, or you can order a half sandwich and have some room for dessert. Vegetarians will love the “Veggie Muffuletta” layered with a variety of tasty vegetables, Portobello mushroom and cheese. The “Po Boy” sandwich is standard fare in Louisiana dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo with a side of fries. Sugar Freak offers a wide variety of Po Boys including fried catfish, fried oysters, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, hot roast beef and gravy and more, all of which are juicy, delicious and soul-satisfying.

Sugar Freak’s proprietor is an accomplished pastry chef so please save room for dessert. The popcorn rice pudding is a unique dessert, topped with a salty caramel sauce that is irresistible. Bread puddings vary, depending on the season. Right now, you’ll find Bailey’s bread pudding or chocolate caramel. “Dump cake” is actually a pineapple-cherry cobbler, served warm. Banana pudding is cool and creamy, made from scratch with sweet bananas. Daily dessert specials offer something decadently delicious.

Visit Sugar Freak for Saturday and Sunday brunch served from 11am to 4pm where the offerings include a hangover cure called “Old Sober Soup”, sandwiches, burgers, main courses and more. Shrimp and grits are creamy and buttery, topped with plump, juicy shrimp ($13). Sugar Freak’s own omelet is made with spicy Andouille sausage, shrimp, cheese and herbs, served with home fries or grits. Cajun eggs Benedict will wake you up with its surprisingly good flavor, while the bananas Foster French toast is a decadent treat, served with bacon or sausage. Try a sandwich of cornmeal crusted tilapia, potato salad, lettuce and tomato on a soft bun or a buttermilk fried chicken cutlet sandwich with mac ‘n’ cheese. Wash it all down with an eye-opening brunch cocktail such as a Creole Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Kir Royale, made with champagne and crème de Cassis.

Sugar Freak offers a truly unique, memorable dining experience in a whimsical setting. For a taste of Louisiana’s rich cuisine and spirits, along with a very friendly, hospitable staff, fully stocked bar and just a great time in general, y’all should get over to Sugar Freak right away!

Sugar Freak

36-18 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11103
718 726-5850


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