The former Quill site on King Street has been given a serious makeover. It’s now the home of Suri, a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant. As well as being the name of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter, it means ‘the sun’ in Sanskrit and ‘red rose’ in Persian.
Gone are the dark black and oppressive rooms with stark bulb lighting. In their place a much more open, warm and colourful space, reflective of its namesake. The two-floor conversion manages to capture that Mediterranean spirit and a much more bustly and sociable atmosphere than that of its predecessor results.
The team behind the venture, Terence Langley, co-owner of City District (Fazenda), property investor and developer James Coubrough, and property consultant-turned restaurateur Andrea George, have obviously taken a leaf out of El Gato’s book, and realised diners want a more accessible space – a more relaxed and informal affair. They’ve done well here.
Encouraging sharing, which is what their style of menu is all about, we sat upstairs at a table with other journalists and kept out of the way where we wouldn’t annoy the other punters with our incessant camera snapping and social media updates. Don’t blame them.
It was a proper sit-down affair and none of that crammed cocktails at the bar whilst attempting to grab a passing canapé while you can, and popping to McDonalds on the way home. Nope. This opening was fit for a king or queen with enough food to feed the five thousand. We counted fifteen sharing plates, not to mention a stream of servers happily topping up plates with a never ending supply of food from the open kitchen.
Under the headings graze (nibbles), field (veggie), farm (meat), waves (fish), and enjoy (desserts), we were treated to some real gems across our evening of sheer decadence. Suri rose olives had the table divided. Did they work? Was the rose an unnecessary ingredient? I’m still undecided, but what an interesting way to start.
Persian spiced bread was delightful. Fragrant and spongey, and fantastic with smashed vegetables and chickpeas. The Josper honeyed salmon was another hit, served with some gorgeously ripe avocados and taheena. The spicy and crunchy cauliflower with aubergine had bags of flavour.
One of the tastiest sharing plates of the night, from the farm section, was the Lebanese lamb – the juiciest grilled cutlets with sweet roasted garlic tzatziki and pomegranate. My mouth is watering as I write this and remember just how good it tasted. And the whole fish cooked on the bone with burnt fennel was, again, superb.
The dishes just kept coming. Cardamom, rhubarb, rose and ginger-infused pannacotta was a creamy and oh-so-perfumey pot of joy. And the chocolate slab with orange syrup gave a delightful Middle Eastern twist to a classic brownie. A great way to finish. Washed down with another glass of Quickie (Australian Sauvignon Blanc), we were in heaven.
Both front and back of house worked their backsides off and looked after us for the entire evening in absolute splendour. It was incredible how together they were, and unbelievable the amount of food produced to that standard and in that time, and on only their first night. It can only get better from here.
Our place mats for last night said ‘Welcome to the official opening of Suri. We hope you have an amazing time!’ We did. Thank you so much to the whole Suri team. What is also amazing is how we made it home after all that food.
Suri is open to the public from Friday 10th March.