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Suka

Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London, England, W1T 3NG, United Kingdom

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The Sanderson Hotel is the kind of place that is likely to provoke extreme views. Its long bar is ultra-fashionable, while the purple bar is cosy and serves good cocktails. Suka took the place of the ill-fated Spoon, and serves fusion Malaysian/French food. Backed by financier, restaurateur and convicted criminal Jeffrey Chodorow, Suka was never likely to be a dull place. The dining room is off the noisy Long Bar, and in clement weather there are plenty of tables in the courtyard, partly open to the elements. The menu ranges through fairly classical Asian (not purely Malaysian) dishes like Papaya Salad, through to fusion concoctions such as foie gras with a salad involving Thai basil, red onion and Vietnamese mint. Service was overly precious for my taste, with European staff anxious to explain the "concept" of the dining at every opportunity. The wine list was actually quite good, organised by grape style, and ranged widely across the world. Mark-ups were the usual central London level, but there were plenty of choices under £40.

The green papaya salad featured rather heavy noodles but lively spicing (12/20). Lobster wonton mee involved lobster that was wildly overcooked and chewy, though well spiced sweet and salt noodles (10/20). Crab meat and fritters in a crab broth was surprisingly tasteless and failed to impress (11/20). By contrast, slow braised pork belly was tender, enlivened with a little chili vinaigrette and spring onions (15/20). Even better was pan-fried foie gras with a vibrant salad of red onion, mangosteens, Thai basil and Vietnamese mint, in which the foie gras was very good indeed (16/20).

The inconsistency continued with the grilled langoustines. The ones that initially arrived were cooked almost to a pulp, and were virtually inedible. I sent these back and was presented instead with very nicely cooked, light langoustines with rather heavy-handed turmeric, garlic and bacon emulsion. This was either 10/20 or 15/20, depending on which version you score. Worryingly the mushy version was "the standard that we do" while the light, correctly cooked version was done "especially for you".    

Beef rendang was slow-cooked and hung off the bone nicely, but lacked the spices that a true beef rendang should have. Turbot was roasted and cooked rather too much, with a surprisingly tasteless tamarind and chilli emulsion (12/20). This was better than a really bad skate sambal, badly overcooked in a milk curry sauce (10/20). Vegetables were actually quite good, with tender bak choi (15/20) and decent Chinese broccoli (13/20), while rice was reasonable (12/20). 

Pineapple panggang (roasted pineapple) was not a successful dish (11/20) but a kaffir lime chocolate fondant was correctly made, with good chocolate with a liquid centre, served with ginger sorbet (14/20). The bill for four, with tap water, two bottles of modest wine and a cheap dessert wine was £435, and this with coffee donated by the staff. This is one of the most erratic meals I have had for years. At its best there was classy cooking, as evidenced by the foie gras and the bak choi. On the other hand the skate, lobster and initial attempt at langoustines were inexcusable.  It averages out to perhaps 12/20, but at these prices there is a giant value for money question.   

 

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  • derek

    Nothing has changed at Suka! What a HUGE disappointment! I don’t mind spending £150 for two for dinner (no pudding, no coffee, just 1 bottle of ‘cheap’ wine), but at this level I do expect a lot more. The food is tasty (so is a Chinese takeaway), but in this price range I expect a higher level of, or at least a degree of, sophistication and polish. There were far too many niggles; I had to ask where to leave my coat (no one offered to take it)… you had to pay for drinks at the bar, couldn’t add it to the tab..15% service charge is added to the overpriced drinks at the bar (for handing you a glass of wine AT the bar???)… the wine we had by the glass at the bar was not available in the restaurant (they are in the same room!)…dishes are described as ‘at room temperature’ – is this an excuse for cold food?...presentation is poor and lacking any skill…too many courses were brought together…prawns were not cooked through….we had to ask for clean plates to move from fish to meat (which had all been brought out at the same time, against our wishes – cold food)... one chef was stationed in the ‘show kitchen’ which reminded me of a burger counter at a point to point (I only saw the chef eating and chatting so couldn’t work out what he was supposed to be doing). I was however highly impressed by the straight face of the waiter who asked if we would like to add a tip on top of the ‘discretionary’ 15% service charge which is there to make up their paltry wage to minimum wage level apparently! This is not a place for experienced diners/food lovers! I have learned a lesson not to dismiss reviews, I had seen the negative reviews on this restaurant and had assumed that either the author was from a rival restaurant or that the comments would have been noted by the establishment in question and that improvements would have been made. Sadly I was wrong!

  • Alex Chambers

    What an odd restaurant. Gone is the ridiculous Spoon hard boiled egg at a bargain £9, in comes Suka looking to pillage those with a penny left in their pocket. The music is still too loud, the staff are still ludicrously self conscious, but somehow this almost works. Just like everything else at the Sanderson, the best of Schrager's global boutiques, there are highs and lows. Pork belly with jalepeno was stunningly good, perhaps a 5/10, albeit accompanied by entirely superfluous strips of serrano ham, whilst Skate bordered on inedible (although some table members tested it I cowered in fear at its scarily burnt wing tip and radioactive yellow gloop/sauce). Desserts were in the same vein- potentially wonderful pineapple served a week early met by a kaffir lime fondant that looked like a dream. The chef has talent so this will go one of two ways. Either they'll sort out the frankly scary inconsistencies, and become the new Nobu/Zuma/Hakkasan/E&O/get the picture? or it will become the redundant end of the Long Bar. Their choice really.

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