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Nosher | Sep 15, 2003 09:08 AM

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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