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Going to Sursur tomorrow. Any advice?

Hubby is taking me for a b-day dinner. He chose Sursur over Perigee and Splendido. Having not experienced the great man's food, I am looking for some sage advice from my fellow hounds.

Any must try items? Any cautionary notes?

Should we go for the tasting menu or stick to the menu? I am sick of winter and feeling a little frisky, so I feeling like throwing caution to the wind and leaving all the decisions up to the kitchen. Are the wine pairings with the tasting menu worthwhile, or should we just get a bottle of something we like?

Thanks in advance hounds!

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  1. Definitely go with a tasting menu -- Susur shines when he's given some freedom; especially on a special occasion like your birthday. I've had great success with the wine pairings, and if money is virtually not a concern, I'd suggest that as well. Just relax, and leave all the decisions to the team. When you're paying Susur prices, you shouldn't have to strain your brain. :) Have a great evening!

    1. There is only tasting menu at Susur. The one that I had in a recent visit is a 6 courses in reverse order which is wonderful. I like the food at Susur more than Splendido and Perigee. Enjoy !

      1. Sorry for being a spelling Nazi, but my immediate response is that you should know it it spelled SUSUR, not SURSUR. Sorry, sometimes I just can't help myself.

        1 Reply
        1. re: redearth

          Doh, I knew that. Must be this aging thing :\

        2. Of course, I make a mistake.... "... you should know it IS spelled......"

          1. Some clarifacations for all you hounds:
            1. Wednesday night should not be too busy so a tasting meny is probably a good idea, especially if it is your first time there. A la carte is always an option and often a great choice if you don't like the sound of the tasting menu. Ask the staff to detail what is on the tasting menu before you choose. Sometimes only vague answers are offered and qualified with an excuse like "Susur likes to change the menu in the middle of the evening without notice". I call bullcrap, at those prices, know what you are going to get, unless you really are somebody who eats everything and then let the man surprise you.
            2. Wine pairings: Susur is all about the food. Sure they have a nice wine list with lots of pricey bottles (he will definately gladly accept your cash), wine pairings are fraught with danger. None of the staff actually sample food and wine together (go ahead and ask your server), nor is there a qualified sommelier employed there nor anybody with anything more than a basic knowledge of fine wine. Anything proffered by the staff there is going to be based on speculation, perception, and profit. The whole Susur tasting menu is contrary to most basic food and wine pairing tenants (richest and heaviest course first to lightest and most delicate course last, etc). At the very least if you are serious about wine pairing, make sure you get a palate cleanser (sorbet/granita/jelly) after the foie gras, especially if paired with sweet wine.
            3. Be aware that some nights are magical there, and at those prices they should be. But also be aware that some nights are anything but magical. Most of the polished, gifted and knowledgeable staff there have been replaced by less experienced staff, some even struggle with the spoken english language, willing to put up with long stressfull hours and crappy pay to have Susur's name on their resumes.
            4. Susur and his hard working kitchen staff still probably makes the best food in Toronto. Although the tasting menus may vary from week to week, maybe even from one day to the next, they are basically slightly different variations on the same elements he has been serving since he oppened. Although it is great food expertly prepared, I don't think avant-garde is a fair adjective anymore.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nose_food

              I've always been curious. When you dine at a restaurant like Susur, is it expected that you will drink wine, and if you decide not to, is it problematic in terms of the pleasure of the meal or the service received? I like alcohol, but due to health reasons, my enjoyment of alcoholic beverages is limited to hard liquors without flavourings matched with a small number of mixers, and while I miss red wine dearly, it simply is not an option. On one hand, I'm quite pleased that this will cut down the cost, but on the other, I discovered this issue before I was able to try fine food and wine pairings, unfortunately.

              I've heard consistently lukewarm reviews of Susur since joining this community. I'm a grad student with a love of excellent food and was going to try to scrounge enough cash to visit (a difficult feat with much sacrifice), but now I'm not convinced that it would be worth it and my money might be better spent going on vacation. Am I wrong in this decision?

              1. re: vorpal

                Interesting questions Vorpal. I've done wine pairings in the past and enjoyed the experience. My husband really knows his wine, so if the wine list is any good, he is drooling at it and prefers to select his own wine. Based on Nose's comments regarding no sommelier and minimal thought going into pairings, we will likely choose our own wine.

                But you have an interesting connundrum. In the past, I've been disappointed by the food at supposedly "great" restaurants. As have I been even more disappointed by having meals completely ruined by poor, or worse, indifferent service delivered by uppity servers. (probably one of the reasons its taken me this long to try Susurs) There are servers who treat big spenders better, and wine adds significantly to the bill. But, you shouldn't be expected to do anything, but order a single course at any restaurant. And in an ideal world, the servers would treat you no different than anyone else. I think Susur will be around for awhile, long enough for you to finish school in any case. You have to decide whether to roll the dice and hope for a good service/food night, or roll the dice and hope for good weather if you choose a vacation. Now if you are travelling to somewhere known for great food...take the trip and eat your heart out. Isn't vacation food a lot like vacation sex-- all the better for the new and unfamiliar surroundings?

                Of course I could have a different opinion after the meal.

                1. re: vorpal

                  for what's it worth, i'd throw my two cents behind having the vacation. I wouldn't describe it as life-changing...a better place to go when you can afford it comfortably and not feel peeved that you are spending $300-$500 to sit in a booth that moves everytime the person at the table behind you shifts. having been to some pretty amazing meals in San Sebastian, I'd say Susur doesn't match up in my mind in terms of the HOLY COW experience. I'm NOT saying it wasn't great, it just wasn't as close to whole- thing perfect as I've seen. If you are really sacrificing to go there, you might not be happy.
                  Hope that makes sense.