Norwalk’s Sugar & Olives radiates good vibes

The bar -- which has a rustic feel to the otherwise modern restaurant -- is tidy and ready for the incoming flow of Saturday brunch-goers.

The bar — which has a rustic feel to the otherwise modern restaurant — is tidy and ready for the incoming flow of Saturday brunch-goers.

Daniela Karpenos, Web News Editor

Let’s just say, if I were to open a restaurant, I would aspire to own one like Sugar and Olives.

The interior is both sleek and homey; modern and rustic; minimalistic and cozy.

The walls—a cool, light gray-blue—are accented with bursts of vibrant orange.

Restaurant owner Jennifer Balin describes these colors as conventionally “chic, home-decorating colors.”

“Even though they’re really home decor colors, I wanted the feel of something homey,” Balin explained.

Jenna Levantin ’16, upon first stepping foot inside Sugar and Olives, remarked that it was “the cutest restaurant ever”—and I couldn’t agree more.

But, beyond its impeccable interior design, Sugar and Olives appeals to customers in a number of ways.

As described on its website, Sugar and Olives “is devoted to serving local food and operating with a small [environmental] footprint.” The Green Restaurant Association (GRA) has awarded it three stars for its impressive feats in eco-friendly, sustainable dining.

Balin prides herself in purchasing local products—almost all of the items on the menu come from within Connecticut or nearby. She also focuses heavily on composting, recycling, and minimizing the use of plastic.

But, most of all, Balin is a proponent of whole, unprocessed foods.

“People who come here are concerned about healthy living,” she observed.

Sugar and Olives hosts a farmer’s market once a week, as well as vends at the Westport Farmer’s Market.

Emily Eldh ’16 is one of the many customers who appreciate the wholesomeness of the menu.

“The food honestly never disappoints and it’s all organic and locally grown, so when you eat it, you’re confident that you’re eating well,” Eldh said.

According to Balin, among the most popular dishes is the “Grass-Fed, Home-Schooled, Church Going Jam Burger”—made with bacon jam, homemade ketchup, and manchego, served on a homemade pretzel bun with a side of crispy fingerlings in place of fries.

Balin describes the menu as “adventurous”—and after skimming it, I discovered that it certainly is.

Sugar and Olives serves a perfect balance of traditional dishes with a quirky twist—they are conservative enough for the hesitant and adventurous enough for the curious.

Daisy Laska ’16, daughter of Balin, frequently stops by after school to indulge in her mother’s savory crepes and tasty kale salads.

“I was ten when my mom opened Sugar and Olives,” Laska said. “I was super excited and wasn’t really surprised since she was always cooking us delicious meals before she opened up her restaurant.”

“I opened my doors one day and all of a sudden people kept coming in,” Balin said, recalling the considerable amount of press she received upon first opening up. Sugar and Olives was featured on The Hour, CT News, and Norwalk Citizen News, to name a few.

Tucked away on 21 1/2 Lois Street—a small street on the border of Norwalk and Westport—Sugar and Olives is definitely worth the trek across town.

Even better, on the weekends, Staples students can score a free hot chocolate—topped with a big, homemade marshmallow—with their order.

I will, without a doubt, be returning to Sugar and Olives to indulge in its great vibe and unique yet delicious dishes.