I read about the differing opinions of Susur on here, and decided to go and judge for myself. I was disappointed with Susur, primarily because of the service, and secondarily because of the inconsistency of the quality of the food.
The service was definitely my primary complaint with Susur. My party of five's arrival was adequate enough, and our coats were taken in due course. We were then seated. At this point our waiter arrived, and began explaining Susur's menu selection process. His attitude was slightly patronizing, exemplified by his description of what foie gras is after a member of my party simply misheard what he said. This, however, was not a major problem.
The service became spotty as more dishes arrived. In one instance, the server of our dishes did not know what they were and retreated to the kitchen to find out. He never came back to describe them. In another instance, our servers misplaced the dishes on the table
and had to swap them between several different people. Then they had to confer among themselves as to what the description of each was. One would think a restaurant of this calibre would not make mistakes like these twice.
It took a serious turn for the worse when our waiter arrived to take our beverage order for dessert. He suggested some kind of tea, but we respectfully declined and ordered our own drinks. Soon the dessert towers arrived, as did our cups, but no beverages with them. We finished dessert, and still, no drinks. Finally a latte of one member of our party's arrived, and yet tea and coffee (which one expects are easier to provide quickly) had not arrived a full 15 minutes or so after we ordered them. After we had finished our dessert, the tea came (the staggered nature of drink delivery is interesting here), and our waiter proceeded to open up one of the tea pots, and sniff it closely to discern whose tea it was. This was exceptionally inappropriate. A member of my party informed him one of the teas he brought was wrong, and he proceeded to ask her to try the one he brought, pouring it for her, to see if "this would be alright". The fact he expected a diner to try steaming hot tea right away so he would not have to go correct his mistake was unsettling. At this point, coffee, a full 20-25 minutes after we ordered it, had not arrived. When it was finally requested for again, it was brought in thirty seconds, with the justification that "a fresh pot was being made". No apology was provided, merely that the coffee was "on its way".
This is not say that the service was roundly deficient. Beverages were filled up quickly, and many of the servers were polite with their descriptions. Yet the problems aforementioned, not to mention the lack of a "you're welcome" at any time in the evening when we thanked our servers for some of their excellent descriptions, was not what one expects here.
The second issue here is food. Now, let’s be clear, some of the dishes we had were of excellent quality. These were, specifically, a Cornish game hen dish complemented by a variety of sauces, a sablefish nestled in a wonderful broth, and a tender and succulent scallop. Susur underwhelmed with some gnocchi (which was relatively bland and plain, in the context of the other dishes), the amuse bouches (some of which were actually unappetizing), and the intermezzo sorbet. Additionally, no red meat was served at our table, though there were some tantalizing options on the tasting menu template. I'm not sure why this was the case, but it detracted from the experience. The declining size of each dish model did not detract from the experience, but it didn't add much either.
The ambiance of Susur was a plus. The room does not try to be dramatic, but it is relaxed, calm, and spacious. The servers were all of the 'hip, young, and trendy' type. I have nothing against this personally, but some balance would be welcomed. Susur was not bad, but it was not exceptional either. Paying well into $100 per person should mean nearly flawless service (or at least apologizes when mistakes are made) and consistent food quality. Susur does not fulfill these criteria, and to me therefore, the experience was a disappointment.
Looks like most of the food you have is great there and you enjoy them. The intermezzo sorbet, which is not a course, what is the problem with it ? Just wondering.
A recent remark by the famed NYC restauranteur Drew Nierport said that a truly great restaurant providing the ultimate dining experience should have the following break down - 30% food, 70% 'hospitality'. Guess Susur has a lot of work to do still!!