Shang menu at Lee and Madeline's
I just heard that through April, a version of the Shang menu (Susur Lee's new restaurant in Manhattan) will be available at his Toronto spots, Lee and Madeline's.
Has anyone tried it? Is it the usual reservations nightmare?
What reservations nightmare? The only time I've ever had a problem was when Susur announced he was leaving and everyone rushed to go before he left. I got a same day reservation last week (but at 6;15).
There are two different menus available - different for each of Madeline & Lee.
The Madeline one follows Susur's 'traditional backwards menu' with the main course being served first (a White Peppercorn Marinated Skirt Steak - absolutely sensational dish). The other dishes are good - but don't match that first course (which is vintage Susur).
Haven't tried the Lee menu - which seems more Asian influenced - but plan to!
I did a quick review of the Shang's menu at Madeline's here:
We had no problems making a reservation for 4 ppl on a thursday night (albeit an early 6:30pm). The resto was only 3/4 full last thurs. Lee was quite busy too by the time we left (just after 9pm).
Had the Lee menu yesterday.
- Skirt steak had hints of "asian" spicing but nothing spectacular IMO - overcooked and therefore lacking the pronounced "beefy" flavour I was expecting. The cauliflower puree was undersalted and the fried "dough balls" were bland. We didn't keep the menu so we had forgotten what they were supposed to be.
- Dim sum turnip cake , black bean sauce and mushrooms was excellent in taste and texture
- Cantonese wok fried noodles with shrimp, veggies and hints of coriander stems (added a lovely flavour). It appeared that he "home made" and were quiet nice. A lovely dish as well.
- Jerk chicken, with pinapples, peppers and a scotch bonnet/mango sauce. I really enjoyed the presentation of this dish and the flavours were good. However, the scotch bonnet sauce was far too spicy. I would expect that level of heat from an "authentic" establishment, but not at a restaurant where many of it's guests will have carefully chosen wines to accompany their meal.
-Almond Panna Cotta, Berry Ravioli, Dried Pineapple and Passion Fruit Sauce. A beautiful dessert'; I loved the combination of flavours especially the almond.
IMO this is an excellent price point for Susur's menu. Because Susur loves to play with flavours there's a big risk that those flavours will not appeal to your palate. At $130 that can be a big risk, but for $60 I'll take it everytime. It wasn't a perfect meal but definitely enjoyable.
Btw I concede that the dimsum turnip and cantonese noodles could be "rip-offs" that can be enjoyed at much cheaper prices elsewhere. I'd be interested in hearing any opinions on that.
I was also there last night! Hope you enjoyed the sake! Stupidly I forgot my wine - still sitting in the fridge!
The menu has changed (slightly) from last week - instead of the skirt steak there used to be a duck-breast with amaranth (a different skirt steak dish was served at Madeline's - the Madeline's one was much more complex - in a pepper sauce with a 'hot & cold' salad). I found the skirt steak at Lee a little bland (in comparison), but my cauliflower 'puree' was more dense - still in the form of cauliflower itself. Loved the turnip cake - best version I've ever had. The Cantonese noodle dish was the weakest for me. Perfectly cooked - but unexciting - this dish explains (for me) why other Chowhounds find that Susur just recycles 'street food' at higher prices. Nevertheless, the shrimp was completely deshelled and deveined - that's where Susur adds his 'touch' - you just don't get that in street food.
The jerk chicken was excellent for me - but I love spices. Certainly the spiciest dish. A little lacking in chicken - but the rice-flour 'bowl' was stunning. So light (and again greaseless) - full marks for presentation.
We matched one of these menus with additional dishes from the regular menu. There we struck mostly gold. The fries are amazing - totally ungreasy. The lamb chop is a holdover from the original Lotus menu. The lamb itself was just OK, but the spicing is amazing - chili-mint chutney may be Susur's greatest 'invention'.
The onion and chickpea fritters are Susur's take on Onion Bhaji. And again this 'cheap' dish is lifted by Susur's treatment - the pieces are totally greaseless (again) with both a sour cream and sweet/sour sauce (more of a chutney (apricot?, mango?) than the traditional tamarind sauce).
If Susur is 'ripping off' unsophisticated Chinese food - he's expanded his repertoire to include both Indian and Jamaican roots food.
And how did he get that pineapple so thin (and with coloured edges)? All the flavours in the dessert came through individualy and harmonised. My Berry was Raspberrry (as you said in a ravioli).
I'll be back - this time with my wine. Sake or Riesling in Lee. A light red in Madeline.
My own fault, I didn't even look at the regular menu! Those dishes sound great.
Thanks for the review and filling in the "gaps" (e.g. cauliflower intact, rice flower bowl, raspberry, etc). Though I'm surprised your tongue wasn't burning from the jerk chicken; perhaps I've turned into a "weakling" (something my parents would say).
Btw I was at the very back...
Had the Shang menu at Madeline's last night.
My friend got the regular Shang menu, while I asked for substitution for beef. I was served cornish hen instead of steak and the rest on the plate was identical to the steak dish. Tried both of them and both were great.
The shrimp dish was great, it was a very similar presentation to a lobster dish that I previously had at Susur. It was quite delish.
Next was tuna sashimi, and I read somewhere that it had some complex flavours - it actually did. I wasn't thrilled about it, but the fish itself was fresh and enjoyable.
Then was the tofu dish. My friend does not like tofu... but he had no problem finishing this one. It was a softer tofu, with spinach and mushrooms... very delish. The sauce for this particular dish was great.
Lastly the molten chocolate cake. At this point, we felt like we were going to pass out. Both of us were only able to finish half of the cake. It was a standard dish, but done well. Nice warm chocolate oozing out.
We took a bottle of wine with us, and there were other people also taking advantage of the $1 corkage fee (M, T, W only).
Overall a decent time at Madeline's. It was not super innovative but quite good.
No, I went around 1 to 2 week ago, maybe it is getting better after getting some feedback. The XO sauce is quite bland on the night we went, we have been eating numerous XO sauce in many other chinese restaurants here and asia but some of us cannot tell that is actually XO sauce without looking at the menu.
I also went 1 or 2 weeks ago, a party of 4. Ordered 2 Shang, and other single dishes. The steak was very good as was the veg with it. The shrimp seened over cooked and tasted like regular spicy shrimp to me. There was organic shrimp with garlic, that was over cooked as well. the tofu was ok. The tuna had too much ponzu. The dessert was very good. Over all the only thing I would go back for is the steak. First visit to Susur was the best (every dish blew me away). Since then, it's been a hit and miss.
I ate at Shang in NYC. It was one of the worst meals I've had in the city. Given, it was only a month after Shang opened, but it was dismal. Combine that with the consistent negative reviews (both professional and from the online community) and I have zero desire to ever taste that food again. I admit to not being a Susur fan to begin with, but this has solidified my opinion in that he and his cuisine are extremely overhyped. I just don't think he's that talented.
I expect fully to hear from estufarian, and learn exactly why my opinion doesn't matter regarding the beloved Susur.
How can I pass on a challenge like that!
But you obviously haven't read all my posts on Susur.
For example I ALWAYS criticized his 'backwards menu' - still never made sense to me. And his knowledge of wine/food pairings was definitely not a highlight.
But I also give credit 'when it is due'. Even above I mentioned that we had a higher success rate with the regular menu offerings.
And at his peak I find few who can match him (in Toronto anyway) - the lobster with mango; lamb with chili-mint chutney; the presentation of his soft-shell crab; the 5-layer-soup (where each 'ring' linked in some way to the next ring) are dishes I still rate among my finest ever.
And of course, your opinion does matter (I hope the exceptions to my being respectful to any poster are few). But if I disagree, I expect a similar level of respect in return. Especially if I can communicate the reasons for my disagreement (which I hope I almost always manage to do).