First looks' are initial sneak peeks at a new venue. Unlike reviews, which are strictly anonymous and paid for by Time Out, 'first looks' may be based on press trips or other non-anonymous visits. Look out for the full review coming soon.
What is it? Sureno
, the Mediterranean fine dining eatery on the lower level of The Opposite House
, has served as the cornerstone of the boutique hotel's food and beverage outlets since opening.
After eight years, the Sanlitun mainstay has undergone a renovation. The interior has been largely untouched, but the hand-tossed pizzas, flame-grilled entrecôte and tiramisu on which it built its name have since departed.
Smoked salmon carpaccio
What's on the menu? The new Sureno is leaner. Stripped back to the essential flavours, simple ingredients are prepared skillfully and presented with understated garnishes. Take the crunchy squid ink cracker resting on top of ribbons of salmon carpaccio, for example, or the tamarind fruit leather's gummy chew, which breaks up the creamy richness of a thin slice of torchon of foie gras.
New chef de cuisine Talib Hudda, most recently of Nordic-inspired eatery The Georg
, has steered the kitchen towards the southern and eastern corners of the Med that Sureno had previously ignored, favouring the cuisines of Italy and Spain.
A roasted chestnut agnolotti with squid ink ash is the only pasta on the menu, which will be a shocking departure for fans of the lobster tagliatelle or spinach bucatini. But the intensely nutty aroma of the agnolotti and perfectly al dente pocket of creamy chestnut and luscious cheese fondue deliver enough heft on their own.
48-hour sous vide beef short rib
The breath of the menu has been narrowed. The soft-launch menu for the revamp is concise in its offerings: a handful of small plates for sharing and a similar number of mains. It's straightforward and more in tune with the current trend towards things fast and casual.
The star of the show is the 48-hour sous vide beef short rib. It's a heady rush of intense beef flavour elevated by the lingering cloud of burnt thyme smoke (order 24 hours in advance).
'Superfredo' chocolate cake
Sweets are equally restrained and yet indulgent in the depth of flavour retained within such humble components. A frozen chocolate sponge cake laced with hazelnuts and fresh raspberry sauce is both familiar in taste while utterly foreign in texture: the cool pockets of air and crunchy nuts form a dense pallet-coating cushion of smothering salty-sweetness.
We say The menu changes are encouraging, and with a rejuvenated front-of-house team supporting the new concept, Sureno looks poised for a major comeback.