I had an absolutely lovely dinner last night with Glenn and Jim at Susur Lee's restaurant Madeline's. Until April 14 they're featuring a 3 or 5 course menu from Shang, Susur's new restaurant in New York. (*plug! My pals at Typotherapy designed the brand identity/logo, business cards, stationery, and all of the menus for Shang.) I'm going to (mostly) let the pictures, and menu descriptions, speak for themselves.
I went with the 3 course menu, as one of the items was shrimp, which, tragically, I'm allergic to. But since the boys got the 5 course meal, I get to share the whole shebang with you. Something you may not know, is that Susur designs his menus to go from the heaviest dish to lightest. So to start, we had the white peppercorn marinated skirt steak with a potato puree and pinenut brown butter, and frisée lettuce with green beans. The meat was very tender and deeply flavoured. With the delicious sides, we were off to a good start.
Next, the boys had sautéed black tiger shrimp with artichoke Szechwan ratatouille, celery root blini, tomatillo and "XO" sauce. They declared it delicious.
For the third course, my second, we got a very complex sashimi of bigeye tuna stuffed with pickled daikon and almondine, sitting in a ponzu sauce and accompanied by a potato puff ball. Jim skipped this one, as he doesn't like raw fish, so I helped him out. Glenn really loved it, but I felt there was a bit too much going on. While I appreciated the different textures, there were a lot of strong distinct flavours in the dish that competed with rather than complimented each other.
Course number four was a steamed tofu custard toped with creamed spinach and shiitake two ways, along with two other types of mushrooms, soya juice and basil pods. I absolutely loved this dish, perhaps because I generally hate the texture of tofu. This had a true custard feel inside the fried exterior. The spinach was lovely, but the thing that stood out for me was the marinated slivers of shiitake. Thanks to the soya juice, they provided a surprising and delightful citrus note. The king erangi and wood ear mushrooms were a perfect blend of tender and chewy.
We ended this gorgeous meal with a trio of desserts featuring a warm molten chocolate cake, hazelnut chocolate crunch and vanilla bean ice cream. Do I really need to say more about that course?
For my first taste of Chef Lee's food, I have to say, I believe the hype. Delicious, well thought out food presented beautifully in a warm and visually interesting room. There's a week left on this special menu, so Toronto folks still have a chance to try it for themselves.
UPDATE April 15/09
The Shang NYC menu has been extended until the end of April. Go!