The name – Sur-Lie – meaning “on the lees”, is a wine aging process that results in the development of additional flavours, aromas, depth and complexities.
That definition translates exceptionally well to the beautiful creations that can be found here.
Dishes composed of numerous different flavours, purées that have gone through intensive planning and preparation and flavour combinations that will have you salivating.
I visited the restaurant with a couple friends on a Wednesday evening at 5PM.
Upon walking into the Murray Street location, which previously housed Murray Street Kitchen, it had clearly received a face-lift.
A newly appointed bar, a nice increase in brightness and some beautiful wall accents elevate the the dining room.
We started off with some cocktails that the Sur-Lie has developed to entice cocktail aficionados to their wonderful open concept patio in the rear of the restaurant.
The Summer Breeze is gin based and features strawberry, citrus and rhubarb bitters and was a very nice summer drink. The other, Old Smokey, is served tableside with your glass served covering a heap of lit lapsang tea creating a wonderful smokey flavour and scent to the glass prior to the bourbon and vanilla-orange syrup and bitters being poured into it.
We opted for a 7-course tasting menu – a couple more courses than the posted tasting menu but would feature some of the dishes we really wanted to try.
First to hit the table was some bread… and crackers. Not your typical bread basket by no means, little buns complemented by what looked almost like sheets of nori. In fact, they were vegan flax seed & dill crackers. A rosette of butter was served alongside with some dill oil on top. These were very tasty and I could see people asking for more and more as they could become addictive.
First course: Freeland Creek oysters topped with compressed grilled watermelon, fresh grapefruit and a house made fermented red chili paste. The palate takes a trip to sweet, citrus and heat in one bite. A beautiful combination to say the least!
Second course: In-house Québec foie gras terrine, local strawberries, rhubarb chutney and a hazelnut crumble. The terrine was a little too firm and could have used seasoning as it tasted like pure foie gras. Besides that, the plate was well presented.
Third course: Local Rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta, pistachio crust, rabbit terrine, turnip, cherry and pistachio brittle. The sous-vide rabbit loin was extremely tender and the pancetta was a nice salty flavour addition. The terrine was flavourful complete. One of the best dishes for sure.
Fourth course: Seared scallop, roasted cauliflower, fennel confit, yellow curry foam, sliced green apple, black garlic. I was very excited for this dish however, the colour palate on the plate could use some elevation. There was also a cauliflower puree, resulting in a lot of cauliflower on this plate. The scallop was flavourful but was only seared on one side, the other-side was white. The cook on the scallop was also uneven due to that. I think this dish could use a little rethinking.
Fifth course: Alberta lamb loin, hibachi grilled aubergine purée, miso eggplant, mint oil, yoghurt. The lamb loin was sous-vide perfectly but could have used a little more heat to sear the outside of meat and bring its temperature up as it was quite cold. The highlight of this dish is the purée which is packed with flavour.
Sixth course: Pre-dessert – Clementine rind, poached four times and then cooked in a simple syrup sous-vide, filled with an in-house chocolate ice cream. This fully edible dessert is very cool and will make you think of dessert in a new light. Order it, you won’t be disappointed!
Seventh course: Carrot cake, cinnamon glaze, brown butter cream frosting, heirloom carrot purée, pickled raisins, pecan brittle, hazelnut vanilla ice cream. Wow this dessert is spectacular! One of the shining stars here is the naturally sweet heirloom carrot purée which elevates this dessert. The carrot cake itself is complex in flavour and the ice cream quenelle adds to the presentation.
There are definitely some tweaks that could be made to some of the dishes to elevate them as high as some of the other offerings.
All-in-all Neil and his team offered up a great modern French dining experience which I’m sure you will enjoy!