Confidential gathers for a communal feast at the new King Street restaurant
THERE'S something very appealing about the experience of sharing food with friends. It adds a warmth to your gathering that you don't get when you all order individually. You're all dipping into the same dishes, exclaiming over the same flavours, and enjoying the same sensations. There's no need for food envy – what's mine is yours and vice-versa. It feels like a family meal but someone else has done the cooking (and they're a whole lot better in the kitchen than you are).
At Suri, this style of eating – communal with dishes ordered for the table rather than for individuals – is encouraged. So when a group of Confidential staffers went in for lunch, we let them bring dish after dish for us all to explore together.
The food here is Mediterranean with influences of the Middle East so comparisons with tapas and mezze are inevitable. But it felt very different to both. The food at Suri is more detailed in its preparation, more elegant in its presentation, and altogether more sophisticated. The quality of the meat and fresh fish stands out, as does the abundance of fresh herbs. It's lighter and healthier than tapas – afterwards we felt satisfied but not stuffed. And while tapas can have a rough-and-ready, canteen feel, this was more like a feast lovingly prepared over days for a special family celebration.
Having said that, the speed at which it arrived on our table was impressive. There were five of us dining and we shared upwards of ten dishes between us – yet we could have been in and out within an hour. We stayed longer by choice – sitting in this lovely space overlooking King Street was infinitely preferable to sitting at our desks.
The restaurant is upstairs and is fronted by big glass windows facing onto the Tudor building opposite. The feel is warm and relaxing. It's the kind of place you don't want to rush off from (and will be very keen to return to).
We began with these balloon glasses of Slingsby rhubarb gin with Mediterranean Fevertree tonic. They're one of eight G&Ts on the drinks list, and are worth a trip to Suri in their own right. There's a well-stocked bar downstairs where you're welcome to go just for drinks, including coffee, from 11am.
Persian spiced bread (£4)
We've never been as excited as this about a piece of bread. This roughly-torn, soft foccacia had a satisfying salt-crunch, which combined with the flavours of thyme and sesame seed, made for something very special. It was served with an aubergine and red pepper hummus – the perfect accompaniment.
Suri rose olives (£4)
Another simple grazing dish which made a big impact. Biting into these olives in rose-infused oil transported us to somewhere warm and sultry with summer holiday vibes. Exotic and evocative, it was another must-order dish.
Hanout split prawns with smashed avocado (£9.50)
Like many of Suri's dishes, these prawns had the intensity of flavour you only get with good produce, cooked well. They were served whole in their shell, adding to the beach-side restaurant feel of their food.
Salmon 'ma taheena' (£9.50)
A beautifully presented dish and another highlight. It was smoked, flaked salmon dressed in herbs and with little pools of keta caviar. Dishes like this are ideal for people eating a high protein, reduced carb diet – you could eat a very healthy meal at Suri if you order with care.
Spiced pork belly (£8.50)
Not quite so healthy but just as flavoursome, these cubes of pork served with a 'cracklin' mustard' were one of the boldest dishes on the menu. The mustard gave a hit of heat and crunch, while the meat was lusciously tender.
Whole sea bream with shells (£14.50)
This sea bream looked and tasted like it had just come off a driftwood barbecue in a Majorcan cove; flaking and tender inside and lightly charred on the outside. It was nestled on a bed of fennel and cherry tomatoes and scattered with mussels in their shells. A generous, exuberant dish that makes a good centrepiece for a sharing meal.
Chorizo beans (£5)
This is listed as a side dish but could easily have been mistaken for a main. A comforting stew cooked until soft and rich.
35 day aged steak (£14.50)
Another one where the quality of the produce shined through. These pink-centred slices of steak sent our senses into overdrive. Cooked over coals, they were very earthy and rustic. The Hollandaise was a beautiful contrast: a delicate, velvety delight.
Lebanese Lamb Cutlets (£12.50)
There were so many good things on this plate, we'll just list them all and let you daydream: ruby red pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, pickled red onion, cucumber and yoghurt dip, and the centrepiece of lamb on the bone. The flavours ranged from mellow to sharp, with the earthy, pink lamb in the middle.
Pickled Roots (£5)
A very lively vegetable side dish. Radicchio, pumpkin seeds and rocket garnished thinly sliced, lightly pickled beetroot and carrot.
Za'tar fries (£5)
If Confidential ever do a 'Best of the City's Chips' article, this would be in it. Cooked in za'tar spices and garnished with red chilli and coriander, it was so much more than a plate of fries. Another evocative dish that takes you on a journey to the exotic, eastern edges of the Mediterranean.
Suri is at 22 King Street, Manchester, M2 6AG.