As a child growing up in Muncie I always loved to drive by this super whacky house on the south side of town. It was bright blue and hand-painted with lots of bizarre characters and animals. To top it off there was a giant totem pole, also blue, in the front yard. This mesmerized my childhood curiosity, but I’m sure the neighbors weren’t quite as thrilled to have Willy Wonka living next door. A few years ago they stopped decorating the house, and it fell into disrepair. I often wondered what happened to the eclectic owner. Then we drove to Sugar N Spice for breakfast, and I realized the owner must have moved to Cincinnati and opened a restaurant.
If Maloney’s is understated in its outer appearance, then Sugar N Spice is its flamboyant counterpart. It’s like two plastic flamingos dropped acid and painted a building, and it is wonderful. I knew we were in for a treat.
Sugar N Spice has quickly made a name for itself in the breakfast dive world of Cincinnati. Apparently eating at an off-beat local greasy spoon for breakfast it is quite the hip thing to do these days. In fact, Cincinnati Magazine just devoted an entire issue to the first meal of the day, featuring multiple little breakfast joints. I won’t say that Cincinnati Magazine stole the idea from us… since we went to Bluebird in Norwood about two weeks before the issue came out… but I’m sure all those people that get paid to write were veraciously consulting our review while preparing their own. You’re welcome. I digress. Back to Sugar N’ Spice…
A few things hit you right away when you walk in the joint. First of all, it is tiny. They won’t seat you without your whole party, which makes sense because seating is in high demand. (By the way we also had a woman and a baby with us, totally abandoning the principals of Dives without Wives. I fear we have opened the floodgate, but I can’t deny a good woman a good breakfast, and you can’t just leave babies in the car anymore without some nosy lady asking a bunch of questions.) Next you notice the kind of hand-me-down diner feel of the furniture. It feels like a roadside joint you’d see in a Big Lebowski type movie. Just a classic diner feel. Before you sit you’re also immediately struck by the intense paintings on the wall. Why would we expect the inside to not be painted like a clown house too? Lastly, you notice ducks. Yep, ducks. Did you know that Oriental Trading Company sells about two hundred different variations of the rubber duck? Did you know some places collect them? You do now. The best part? When you bring a kid with you they give them a free duck of their own! Even better… they’ll give the adults one too if you pout enough! (I pouted enough!) I began to feel guilty… taking a duck that could have gone to a kid, so you’ll be happy to know I left my duck on the table when we left.
Ok, so on to what really matters: the food. There is a reason this place has street cred preceding it. The pancakes, thin like crepes, are amazing. I normally get full too quickly on pancakes and regret the decision, but these were magical. Pair that with some eggs, which tasted like eggs- same as every egg, and some goetta, and it was a great stack of food. I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say this was the most perfectly cooked goetta I’ve ever had. The only problem with the meal was that our limited table space made it a little tough to feel comfortable, and I found myself plowing through one plate to make room for the others. Only in America do we specifically eat faster to make room for the other plates of food that came with our first plate of food. We’re a sick people.
The wait staff was super friendly, particularly given how busy and crowded the place was. I also don’t know how people could be that friendly to all the Xavier kids that were there all dressed up like it was Halloween, but the jovial women took it in stride and kept the coffee cups full.
After such a disappointing trip to the Bluebird, I’m glad Sugar and Spice has rekindled my love of the greasy breakfast. Maybe I seemed a bit harsh in my review of the décor, but it is part of what made it so wonderful. I want every place I eat to be this entertaining in its atmosphere. The price was about right, too, and it didn’t take us three days to check out like it did at Bluebird. The biggest delay of the checkout process was trying to maneuver around the elderly couple that lost each other while trying to pay the bill and then promptly cut in line. Hey, no problem. I figure they’ve earned the right to do just about whatever they want, except maybe drive on the highway. In and out in a reasonable amount of time with a great breakfast to start our day.
Hilariously loud decor, wonderfully friendly staff, and satisfyingly delicious food. Go to Sugar N’ Spice this weekend.
For more info visit their website
“Quack, quack. Ducks fly together.”