Suru Bar is across from the Ninot Market (one of my favourites), Despite this prominent position the beginning of service starts with customers fast walking to the door, phone smashed against their ear saying something along the lines of “just wait out there I will come out and get you.” This is because counter-intuitively for a new opening, Suru has opted not to hang any signage outside. More than that, there are blinds hindering streetside viewing to the inside. I persisted because Maps insisted I had arrived.
Inside there is smooth grey concrete for the floors, the bar and the mushroom-like two top bars jutting out of the left side. What could be bleak is interrupted in parts by rust red, in the splashback tiles of the kitchen wall and the shelves across from it: that and the floor-to-ceiling poster-plastered wall at the entrance. If you choose to sit at the front of the restaurant there is the added delight of slatted sunlight slamming itself dramatically against surfaces.
Despite it being early January all seats are occupied. Around 25 customers are being served by two chefs, a kitchen porter, a server and a sommelier. The head chef (Carles Morote) sports a David Letterman beard and the sous has a sleek flattened mohawk, seal-like in its shine. They wordlessly expedite the dishes
Suru generously offers all the dishes listed in half portions, a gesture I appreciate but don’t understand. It creates extra work for the kitchen and less revenue. The Momofuku and Marco Pierre White’s White Heat books on the shelves hint at the menu. It’s entrails and all style with plenty of vegetable dishes because real chefs can break down a carcass, make something out of a sow’s ear and not butcher a leek. A skill literally displayed with the first dish I order, some tender medallions of vibrant green leek floating in a soy vinaigrette.
Holiday excess means an attempt to avoid the bread basket but the meat juice that comes beneath the large grilled mushrooms is irresistible. The restaurant is in full swing now so I look for the opportune moment in which to ask Gemma (the server for some bread). I see her by the bread station and look up, catch her eye and look at the bread. Gemma’s prescience is such that without waiting for me to ask, she smiles and cuts two thick slices of Forn Sant Josep loaf for me. I realise then how essential Gemma is to the whole operation. And how despite the half portions and the full restaurant, no one feels forgotten and no one waits. I watch her float into the kitchen to hasten some dishes along. “Can I take this out?” she asks Letterman, who is engrossed in something else. He side-eyes it and adds a garnish and sends it out.
I keep it vegetarian since it’s Veganuary but even the vegetarian dishes at Suru Bar have animal protein encroaching onto them. Small accents make the whole better, like the meat juice under the mushrooms or the single disc of Perol sausage that comes with the chard-stuffed artichoke completing the dish much like the full stop at the end of this sentence.
After such an extensive savoury and drinks menu, dessert is limited to a choice of two. Something chocolate with salted caramel and Suru’s interpretation of baked Alaska. I pick the latter, the Sous leaves his station, pipes out a swirl of Swiss Meringue and browns it with the help of a blowtorch. This sits atop a Calvados-soaked biscuit, a smooth apple compote and flakes of almond. Nice enough, but I don’t think anyone in the kitchen is missing out on their true vocation as a pastry chef. The brains in the Suru kitchen think in savoury tones and that is fine by me since my palette is cut from the same cloth.
Carrer de Casanova, 134,
Instagram Suru Bar
I visited this restaurant because Maria included it in her list of New Restaurants – Winter 2023