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Susur cooking at Madeline's this weekend?

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I've heard that he'll be back cooking in Toronto for a special Chinese New Year dinner - can anyone confirm?

I checked the website and all they have is a $50 prix-fixe that isn't anything like what they usually serve at Madeline's.

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  1. straight from the website it implies that susur will be in town

    Join Chef Susur Lee in celebrating The Year Of The Ox as he creates a $50 5 Course menu featuring his "Chinese Pot Au Feu" of organic braised beef, oysters & oyster mushrooms, along with a selection of dishes from New York. Join us at both Madeline's (416.603.2205) and Lee Restaurant (416.504.7867) for the week of January 26th - 31st, 2009. Please call to make reservations..

    1 Reply
    1. re: CoffeeAddict416

      We haven't seen a review of the New York restaurant by Bruni in the Times, yet.

    2. If I had to interpret CoffeeAddict416's post, I would read it as Susur was designing a menu that would be utilized during the week in his Toronto restaurants. If he were actually in Toronto, I would think they would have emphasized his presence more than through such a cleverly phrased/vague statement. The sentence could be interpreted as saying he just created the menu. That's just how I would read it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BokChoi

        I agree. I believe he's flying back this Friday but that doesn't coincide with the dates listed on the website. So my guess is he created the menu but won't be physically present to prepare it.

      2. You can call and I bet they will tell you.

        2 Replies
        1. re: deelicious

          He is around quite often. When I peer from my balcony, I can see where he parks. His car was around last weekend. Haven't seen him this week yet.

          1. re: Derksen

            The CH intelligence network!
            Susur has said that he expects to spend his time in two cities, and family is here, so it makes sense that Madeline gets some special attention.

        2. Anybody find out if Susur is here in person or just his ghost cooking the menu?

          11 Replies
          1. re: OnDaGo

            as of tuesday i don't believe he was in the kitchen. a friend went for the cny menu and didn't notice him in the dining room. he usually seems to make his presence intimidatingly aware to everyone so i'd assume not.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              I haven't seen his car this week.

              WRT to making his presence "intimidatingly" aware.... do you really find his presence intimidating? I've been a couple times (Susur and Madelines), and never found his presence intimidating. More just a 'peek out from the kitchen to look at the dining room'.

              1. re: Derksen

                perhaps my one experience was an anomaly.... but he stood with his feet shoulder width apart and firmly planted into the ground, arms crossed rigidly, and with an absolutely intense furrowed look on his face as he slowly scanned the room... in the middle of the main entrance way to the dining room. this was no peek, this was practically a showdown.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  I've been to susur when it was around twice and both times he did the cowboy-busting-into-the-saloon-with-arms-folded look. I don't find it intimidating at all! I actually thought it was quite nice that he'd actually come into the dining room. He came around to my table both times to check in as well.

                  1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                    Funny, I see it as a 'Samuri-peering-across-landscape-while-wind-blows-through-hair-standing-on-mountain-top-and-lifts-nose-to-detect-floral-scent-from-valley' type stance (Like his book cover). http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/image... He has done this when I've dined there. A signature stance perhaps??

                  2. re: pinstripeprincess

                    That's funny; that IS how he usually looks when he's been around while I have dined! But my husband and I had a chance to speak to him when he was making the rounds and he's actually very nice, polite and seemed to enjoy getting feedback from his customers! I always thought he patroled the dining room to make sure that his customers were happy with their food.

                    1. re: Chocolatemama

                      I agree. From my experience/knowledge, he does seem like a nice guy.

                      I've heard the polar opposite about how the kitchen is run (by his hired hand). http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/artic...

                      1. re: Derksen

                        Dominic, the head chef now at Madeline's and former sous chef of Susur, is the one that does most of the yelling.

                        Sign of a successful chef is the illusion he/she creates at the restaurant. That he is hands-on involved in every single item on your plate. I'm sure Susur has been in previously devising the menu w/ the team at Madeline's before the launch.

                        Although I understand why people like seeing him there. Adds to the intimacy of an evening for the paying punter. The consistency will be there if the restaurant has a high standard. I always like to say this , people like spotting Susur everywhere, apparently even knowing the make of his car ( gave me a good chuckle). He's the "Where's Waldo" for Toronto foodies.

                        1. re: aser

                          I agree about the 'illusion' point.

                          Oh, and PS, I spotted 'Waldo's' car 10 minutes ago behind the restaurant. Enjoy.

              2. re: OnDaGo

                I was at Lee tonight and Susur came out in the dining room to talk to people. Looks like he is in town for the weekend.

              3. Susur may have to devote a lot of time to the Manhattan place, at least until the N.Y. Times reviews it

                1 Reply
                1. re: jayt90

                  I've generally heard lukewarm reviews of Shang so far and if Manhattan Chowhounder reviews (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/578348) are any indication, Susur might not want Bruni's review until the kinks are ironed out.

                2. we tried the cny menu last night, it was so-so/good but not great...their famous 19 item slaw was the winner, but the sashimi that came with the dish looked a little dry (doesn't have that nice glistening sheen to the fish), the pork was flavorful, but competed with the heavy butter taste of the potato rosti thing on the bottom...we each had a couple of drinks, shared a bottle of wine between 4 people and the bill came to $100/person.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: muito

                    i was hoping for the sashimi but it seems the menu is constantly changing for cny unless the lee side is doing it differently... but i didn't get any of those dishes.

                    will have a longer review up tomorrow morn after it is all digested.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      I asked our server and the CNY menu was different for Madeline's and Lee. She said the only thing that was the same for both restaurants was the 19 item slaw.

                      1. re: always_eating

                        We went to Madeline's last night and he was there. Came out into the dining room a few times, and even stopped by to ask us how everything was! I told him the gnocchi was fantastic, and he seemed so happy or relieved or something. I have to say, it was a pretty exciting experience.

                        1. re: always_eating

                          there was no 19 item slaw on the madeline's menu. as i said earlier, i didn't get anything that muito did.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Sounds Madeline's was the right choice...I'd trade 'fantastic gnocchi' for 'dried out sashimi' any day. Apparently the 19 item slaw is Lee's signature dish (according to the servers), so you could try that dish any day...the good news is that the bad sashimi doesn't normally come with the 19 item slaw.

                            I'd be interested to know how was Madeline's CNY menu...all around goodness?

                            1. re: muito

                              It was decent. I didn't love the Chinese marinated chicken stuffed with pork, although it came with an interesting deep-fried ball of some kind, filled with a creamy leeky sauce. and there was also a piece of endive with a horseradish and nut sauce on it, which was delicious. the chicken/pork was kind of fatty which i can't stomach.

                              the second course was the "fantastic gnocchi". hand-rolled, made with spinach and ricotta, and served with fresh parmesan, pinenuts, shiitake mushrooms, and a very tasty sauce. usually it comes with veal cheeks, but i don't eat anything cow.

                              next was the salad. cucumber, avocado and tomato salad. beautifully presented, very yummy vinaigrette, a few tiny hot pepper slices to keep things interesting, and something crunchy and delicious on top.

                              next we had lobster bisque (!) because we couldn't eat the beef consommé which was the original offering. that damn bisque was fantastic. so flavourful. had huge chunks of lobster meat in it. yum.

                              i had a glass of the J. Lohr chardonnay (we visited this winery this summer and fell in love with their wines) and the wine was great. went perfectly with my food.

                              dessert was coconut creme brulée and it had a tiny little cookie on top of it. two light wafers with chocolate between them. i ate the cookie, my husband ate the creme brulée. i wasn't hungry enough at that point to eat my own dessert.

                              the food was good. the service was good. we had to sit at the dining bar as we hadn't made a reservation, so that kind of influenced our experience — we were right by the door, and the blonde bartender seemed to dislike us although i was doing my best to be smiley, charming, pleasant. the other woman behind the bar was lovely, though. i was hoping for a more special meal, to be honest. our bill came to $187 (my husband had a few glasses of wine). i enjoyed my food but i was expecting to be totally blown away after all the hoopla this place has received. i suppose i'd recommend it! i think i'd like to go back when they have the actual menu. i don't know if we'd have ordered many of the items that were on the CNY menu. it was pretty spectacular to meet Susur, though. That made the night for me. That and the gnocchi. And the bisque. And the wine.

                              1. re: Sarah Cat

                                Mixed reviews so far.. and I can see both sides of the story. This time around, the experience didn't blow me away like my prevous trips to Susur.. though it was my first ime to Madeline's since Susur's departure. Lunching at Auberge during the day (Winterlicious) might have influenced things a bit as well. LOL

                                I liked the first course - the Chicken Roulade.. the endive salad was fantastic.. and this course reminded me of the Susur of old more than any of the other courses... my dining companion did not like it as much...

                                2nd course: I thought the gnoochi was a fresh idea and liked the concept. The Braised Veal Cheeks were very tender.. but I didn't feel that it took in the flavor of the pot/black pepper sauce that well.

                                3rd course. The persimmon/cucumber/avocado salad worked surprising well for my tastebuds.. him taking ordinary Chinese Vinegar and treating it this way was quite nice... every component was essential.. my only thought was the form/presentation hindered the enjoyment of the meal.. It was nice to look at.. but I feel eating the salad mixed well instead of layered would have worked better to mix each mouthful with the intended flavors.

                                The beef consomme was easily the best dish of the night for me.. Simple yet sophisticated. I love the way he did the ginger sherry vinegar too.. much more pragmatic than ginger strands that you'd be familiar with at Chinese restaurants. This one was well worth the trip.

                                The dessert course was better than the desserts we had at Auberge. A good ending the meal. For me, dessert doesn't make the experience but it can break it... As for this round, I left satisfied.

                                All in all, we both ended up rating this evening as slightly less than our morning Auberge winterlicious lunch. Perhaps it's not quite fair to compare apples to oranges.. perhaps it's too much hype leading to dissappoint.. and perhaps not. Oh well.

                                1. re: vincechan

                                  i actually didn't find the third course salad presentation to be a hindrance for eating it. the thin slices were easy to pile onto the fork allowing you to top it off with a chunk of avocado and get the perfect bites of everything over and over.

                                  we went in looking at it as a susurlicious... considering that some of the restos have raised their prices to meet the upper end $45 mark for dinner for winterlicious, this was good value for us. everything was perfectly cooked though one ingredient usually made us question the whole concept of each dish... but nothing took significantly away.

                                  the endive salad was probably the most perfect item in the meal though... conceptually simplistic but absolutely amazing.

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    I'm probably just too lazy having to cut and assemble the pieces by myself... LOL... would rather like to stick a fork in it. pull out.. and get everything on it.. LOL

                                    Totally agree with the Endive Salad! The event promised that dishes from Shang would be part of the prix fixe... though without knowing Shang's menu (not on their website yet).. it was hard to tell. Also agree that it was good value.. just not the usual Susur wow factor involved with every course (for me personally)

                                    1. re: vincechan

                                      i asked a server about this.. but i think he either misunderstood my question or gave me a potentially bull answer.

                                      he said "none of the dishes on the menu are available at shang. shang, madelines and lee are all different." he didn't clarify if it was just for cny or the regular menu. i personally think that the only dish i would ever consider serving nyers on the cny menu was the chicken roulade, otherwise none of it really went into the complicated multiple item overtures that are normally his signature... even then that's a maybe.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                        The Singapore slaw is on the menu at Shang.

                            2. re: pinstripeprincess

                              Ah, looks like our server was wrong about the 19 item slaw being on both menus. I'm thinking that I would have enjoyed Madeline's menu more than what I had at Lee.

                              1. re: always_eating

                                Was there Saturday night and he was roaming the room and sat down for extended parts of the evening with 2 of the tables; I think his wife was at 1 of them. He came by, introduced himself and checked on us at least 3 or 4 times. He was very gracious and seemed genuinely interested in our opinion.

                                We had the CNY menu and it was ok - nothing that blew us away, but solid. The only thing that I didn't enjoy was the salad, the vinegar completely overpowered the rest of the dish - aside from the presentation, anyone could make this dish at home in about 5 minutes.

                                I would definitely try again - but only with him running the show, worth the extra $$$ for the entertainment value alone.