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Sep 15, 2003 09:08 AM


  • n

I know that much has been written about Susur, mostly good, some critical. I had my first experience there last week and I must say it was phenomenal.

We (8 of us) all dined on the 7-course tasting menu. We were told ahead of time about the back-to-front orientation so that was not a surprise. We were also able to do some trading as we were always given something different from the person opposite us and the person next to us. We kept 3 different wines on the go through the meat courses, and then abandoned the Cab but kept the Chard and Pinot Noir going, supplemented with some Late Harvest Reisling for the foie gras course, until the end. That helped eliminate the challenge of starting with the full-bodied wines to match the meats and then working towards the lighter wines for the fish courses.

Unfortunately, I am terrible at remembering the details of my food (perhaps owing to the quanitity of wine) but I did want to comment on the service, which I thought was excellent. It was extremely efficient and was very friendly. The numerouse servers taking care of us all seemed prepared to discuss the menu and the wine list in some detail. Those who did not know the answer were true to their word in bringing back to the table the person with the knowledge within a few moments.

Also we were treated to a kitchen "tour"...actually more of a look as we obviously could not walk around the kitchen. I was struck by three things: 1) cleanliness; 2) the number of sous-chefs and staff (16 in the kitchen in total); and 3) the youth of the sous-chefs. Just like a professional sports team, if he can hang on to the group as they grow up together, Susur should continue to have a winning combination.

Having recently dined at a few Michelin-starred restaurants (both 1 and 2 stars) I can say that Susur was an equally enjoyable experience.

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  1. g
    Guy Middleton

    I also think Susur's food is phenomenal, but I had a real problem with the backwards tasting menu the last time I ate there.

    The problem is that we found it very difficult for us to enjoy our wine. We started with a half-bottle of a modest red (I forget what exactly, this was several months ago), and we moved to a very nice white (a Chablis, as I recall). This proved to be a mistake, as we could hardly taste the white at all.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Guy Middleton

      Wine flights at Susur have been a consistant problem due to the backwards format of the tastings. I haven't heard of a notable solution yet to enjoying both the food and the wine list equally, unfortunately.


      1. re: Chris

        Agree entirely.
        The backwards menu doesn't work with wine.
        I speak up regularly. Please, everyone who goes do the same and maybe the message will get through.
        But the food is fantastic.

        1. re: estufarian

          I don't get it: is the backwards tasting just a gimmick? Surely Susur Lee is beyound needing gimmicks? It just seems odd for the kitchen to make such a decision when it lessens the enjoyment of wine... which they make lots of mark-up money on, right?

          Genuine curiousity here, please enlighten me.

          1. re: julesrules
            Guy Middleton

            It makes sense if you ignore the wine problem.

            Susur's original motivation (he says) was that with a traditional tasting menu, people spend too much of their time hungry.

            A "normal" tasting menu at a high-end restaurant starts with a tiny amuse-bouche, then moves to small courses like soup or fish, and ends with a nice big main course. But this all takes a couple of hours, and by the time the main course arrives you're starving and don't care what you eat, so long as it's big. Or else you eat lots of bread throughout the meal.

            Susur's idea is to give you something big and satisfying to start, so you can enjoy the flavours of smaller dishes to follow without being distracted by hunger. It's just impossible to pick wines that work with a meal that starts with venison (for example) and ends with fish and vegetables.

            1. re: Guy Middleton

              hmmmm, I see. Maybe.

              1. re: julesrules

                I have not heard of this place. Can someone tell me where it is located and how expensive?



                1. re: awni

                  Is Susur a good anniversary place?

                  1. re: Lorraine

                    If you and your significant other are avid 'foodies', it would probably make a good anniversary meal. However, if you aren't, the focus on the food and the magnitude of the experience might overwhelm the anniversary aspect of your date.

                    In a somewhat related note, I was there with family for my birthday some time ago, and was most surprised to receive happy birthday wishes from a few of the servers who has been to our table, as well as a special desert presentation, with a birthday message on it. Following intense grilling of my co-diners, I am quite certain that no one tipped them off to this, but that the waiter must simply have picked up on it from our banter at the table. In short, if you do go there for your anniversary, I have no doubt that the waiters would pick up on it, and do their best to make it special.


                    1. re: SF
                      andrew na vin

                      Susur's achievement is, in my view, unrivalled . His "trust me" or tasting menu is fantastic. The other day, I had his famous and most daring dish featuring sauteed white elephant balls in a reduction of white wine and pomegranate seeds in a redwood and ivory bowl. Nigerian rainforest gorilla grilled to perfection with autumnal 2003 truffles from Provence all plated on a cloud of miso potato crostini. Many other amazing courses, finished with orange roughie creme caramel (sounds disgusting, but delicious!).

                  2. re: awni
                    Guy Middleton

                    On King St near Bathurst.

                    Very expensive, but worth every penny.