What to order from a menu the size of a phone book, when does the kitchen actually close despite advertised opening hours and can it cater to a friend’s dietary requirements are all questions you will never need to ask of Bar Suze, a sleek Surry Hills newcomer focused on taking the stress out of dinner.

“You sit down, and we take care of the rest,” co-owner Gregory Bampton tells Broadsheet.

With head chef Phil Stenvall, a classically trained Swedish-born chef, in the kitchen with sous chef Brenton Hassan (ex-Johnny Fishbone), and Bampton, a front-of-house alumnus of Pinbone and Acme, on the floor, Bar Suze is out to prove that exceptional food and a relaxed experience aren’t mutually exclusive.

“It’s really important to us that Bar Suze feels like a place you can hang out for hours,” says Bampton. “It’s a warm space but chilled out. We’re not going to be one of those places that says they’re open late and then closes the kitchen at 9pm. If you walk in at 11.30 at night, we’re still serving the whole menu.”

The menu brings flavours from Stenvall’s Swedish homeland together with Australian produce. The first half is the smorgasbord, a selection of small bites including smoked prawns with saffron aioli, and smoked mussels with ’nduja, best soaked up with crusty bread.

“I fell in love with Australian seafood when I moved here from just outside Stockholm nine years ago,” Stenvall, formerly at Vini and 121 BC, and most recently at Johnny Fishbone, where he worked with Hassan, tells Broadsheet. “Australians are very proud of their prawns, but nobody smokes them, which is funny to me. It’s a very typical thing to do in Sweden, but when done with Aussie prawns it’s a dish to get really excited about.”

You might want to move on to some heartier dishes, such as such as house-made ricotta gnocchi with honey bugs and bisque; steak with bordelaise sauce and vegetables; and a whole wood-smoked eggplant with brown butter, sour currants and sheep’s cheese.

Meals are best finished with an omelette suedoise – a Swedish take on a bombe Alaska, made with lingonberry sorbet, ginger ice-cream and meringue.

The tight wine list showcases Australian, Italian and French producers, with sour beers, farmhouse ales and a house-made “apple wine” rounding out the drinks menu. Enjoy it all by candlelight with a jazz accompaniment in an appropriately Scandi-minimalist bolthole just a couple of blocks from Central Station on Foveaux Street. The small space is dominated by a marble bar lined with simple black stools, with a few low tables dotted throughout.

The food menu changes weekly, sometimes daily, to cater to both visitors and locals, who can dine a few times a week and experience something different each time.

“We wanted to encapsulate that European bistro vibe where you can grab a wine and a snack at the bar or sit down for a few hours and take on the whole menu,” says Bampton.

Bar Suze
54 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills

Hours:
Tue to Sat 5pm–midnight

barsuze.com