Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Is This The First Real Food Post of 2006?

Why, I think it is!


My devotion to the food stylings (food stylings!) of Susur Lee has been well document. Sometimes, too much, I think, but I feel the need to recap anyway. Last year, I decided that I needed to mark my 31st birthday with something excellent and special. And I decided that I needed to do so, accompanied by my oldest friend Brad, by partaking in a food stuffing feast of the highest degree. And I decided that we needed to experience the tasting menu at Susur. Brad and I spent the next two months congratulating each other on being clever enough to sit through that meal. When Brad's birthday rolled around, we went to lunch at Lee, Susur's second restaurant, located next door to Susur. And next month, Brad and I will be returning to Susur because, goddamnit, my 32nd birthday needs to be celebrated with another go at the vegetarian 5 course tasting menu.

And on to today. But first, last year: the final quarter of 2005 was the living place of a particularly frustrating project. In order to celebrate project completion sans corpses, my boss and I decided that we needed to reward ourselves with an excellent lunch. Today, we did just that at Lee.

We entered the restaurant, and the host promptly disappeared my coat, and seated us at one of Lee's excellent transparent rose coloured Plexiglas tables, coincidently, the same seat where Brad and I celebrated his birthday last year. Our server explained our menu options and left us to decide over sparkling mineral water. Lee, helmed by ex-Susur sous chef Jason Carter, rides the wave of tapas-style service, and gives its guests the option to order absolutely nothing, and leave the responsibility of the decision making up to the chef. Like Susur, Lee accommodates vegetarian diets admirably, and though I encouraged Mr. L to feel free to order meat-based dishes for himself, we ended up letting the chef send us out a mess of vegetarian dishes. Oh, the surprise, it is delightful, no?

The rundown...

Singapore Slaw: As always, Lee's Singapore Slaw is one of my top ten favourite things in the world. IN THE WORLD. 19 vegetables, citrus-based dressing, tossed at the table by a guy who, I swear, is the only person in the room allowed to touch the dish as it makes its way from kitchen to table.

Asparagus Salad, dressed with Mustard Seed, Daikon, Green Onion and Hazelnut Oil Dressing: The asparagus, quickly blanched, had an amazing colour, and a lovely snap. The dressing was tangy and delicious. I only wish that the spears could've been left to marinate in the dressing for just a few more minutes before they were served, because those suckers at the bottom of the bowl? Freaking awesome. The bits at the top? A wee bit bland.

Mexican Goat Cheese Tart with Figs, Black Olives and Basil: Melty! In the mouth! Spicy! On the tongue! And so very happy to be in my belly. I freaking love goat cheese, and the pastry base was so tender, it started to dissolve the minute it hit my tongue. Oh, man.

Mushroom Dumpling Gratain with Red Pepper, Olives, Capers and Feta: Okay, the gratainy-bits with the peppers, olives, capers and feta was really lovely. The mushroom filling in the dumpling could've used more attention with the herbs and spices. And the dumpling dough, while excellent around the edges was a bit too thick every where else.

Thai Baked Lentil with Paneer, Spinach, Coconut and Polenta: I like my dal with a nice angry Indian-spice bite. This one? A bit too gentle and laid back for my tastes. I postulate that the lentils were lulled into a dairy coma from the paneer and just couldn't put up the kind of fight that they're capable of.

All in all, I was pleased, and left with a belly distended by a verra good meal.

The end.

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