Super Miss Sue, Drury Street.
You could argue, that Super Miss Sue actually isn’t even open yet. With the main event, the “Restaurant and Gin Bar” yet to open its doors, what you’ll experience on visiting currently is their downstairs cafe, complete with fish counter, and walk-in chipper at the back, which they’ve named Cervi (open til 3am Fridays and Saturdays, night owls).
However, given the buzz about SMS since its “soft launch” a few months ago, John Farrell and co. could almost decide not to bother progressing with that undoubtedly expensive upstairs fit out, and just keep turning over those tables and bags of fish & chips downstairs. Having tried and failed once or twice to try the place out since it opened, I was quite surprised when I called up to see if I could book a table for dinner for our most recent Bank Holiday weekend and was greeted with a sunny “Sure, how many people and what time would you like?” Excellent.
You can currently book for five people or more, and smaller groups are walk-in only. Dare I say that if you were four, you could book for five and be sure you were going to get a table. You could always order an extra bottle of wine to assuage your guilty conscience. But you didn’t hear that from me…
The impressive exterior, with its big black metal windows and neon “SMS” signage, has made its mark on a previously dead corner of Drury Street and Stephen’s Street already, offering a brand new opportunity for a bit of people-watching in Dublin city centre. From the slick exterior, I was surprised at the simplicity of the interior when we pushed the door open on that busy Sunday night. “Very New York,” was one of the girls’ comment, and indeed there is a real similarity of look and feel to its sister restaurants, 777, Dillingers and the Butcher Grill, all of which have seemed NYC-inspired.
But, that’s where the similarity ends, as once again, here is a very different and new food offering. Super Miss Sue is all about the seafood. As someone who usually gravitates to the fish choices on any restaurant menu, to be faced with an entirely seafood-based menu is a very exciting thing indeed.
We didn’t have the fresh or grilled seafood platters, but the sight of these being delivered to other tables created some great restaurant theatre and visually drove home Super Miss Sue’s seafood credentials. But in fact, the most genius thing we tasted, wasn’t seafood-based at all.
A snack of four slices of toasted, fresh sourdough with ricotta, honey and jalapeno (these ingredients spread over the toasted bread), served in a wooden bowl, of the type my Mum used to serve peanuts in at drinks parties in the 80s, was a mind-blowingly simple and tasty starter.
We immediately started pooling ideas on how we could re-create it at home. Just writing about it makes me want to rush back in and devour a portion all to myself with some grilled prawns and a glass of icy-cold white wine.
It even threw my hotly anticipated “Bloody Mary seafood cocktail” into the shade. However, that is also a cracker of a starter. Served in a traditional prawn cocktail dish, you get a pile of prawns, mussels and squid, along with some lettuce and avocado, served drowned in Bloody Mary instead of the usual Marie-Rose sauce. A little messy to eat, and a lot pricey at €14, but a very cool twist on a classic starter.
The other starter that was praised at our table was the Tuna Sashimi – very simply presented as three generous slabs of rare tuna in a soy-type dressing, oddly named “modern dressing” on the menu. Having already raided the sourdough starter, I decided against raiding the girls’ plates again even in the interest of research, so I’ll give you their word for it, and that word was “amazing.”
We had a bit of a wait for our main courses as the restaurant began to get busier. Not a wait of Coppinger Row proportions, but enough to mean we were very eager to get stuck in by the time the dishes arrived to the table.
The presentation of all our main courses was simple – almost a little underwhelming. The Blackened Swordfish Burger with pineapple relish presented itself as a small-ish floury burger bun isolated in the middle of a plain white plate (nice touch to have the SMS logo on the crockery though), not visually living up to the anticipation built by the colourful descriptions on the menu. Similarly, my “sea bream stuffed with samphire, lemon, garlic and capers” initially looked to be a very small piece of fish with no visible stuffing or any other bells and whistles. But in both cases, we got stuck in and quickly got over this initial perception, when the taste took over. My bream was incredibly fresh, the lemon and garlic flavouring perfectly balanced and adding just the right amount of buttery goodness to the fish and the bundle of samphire that was hidden within.
Intersting side orders are also a focus here. The cynical side of me knows that it’s an easy way to add a few extra fivers onto a bill, but it also offers a great way to sample more of what the kitchen has to offer and add interest to more simple dishes. The sides at Super Miss Sue are definitely in the latter camp. I could have eaten two bowls of the braised kale, and the “Cervi fries” turned out to be proper “chipper chips…” the talk of the table.
At the moment, it’s a wine-only drinks offering until the “Gin Bar” opens upstairs. Two bottles of Ca’ D’Alta Pinot Grigio (€29) went really well with the variety of dishes we had, and our bill for four people came to €190 before tip. Perhaps unnecessarily, we were tempted to order something sweet at the end, so this included one nice-but-not-amazing lemon tart that we shared, our chosen salted caramel dessert being sold out by the time we got that far.
The only bum note for us (pun totally intended) was the bathroom. Only one unisex toilet for the whole place, where funky decor should not be a trade-off for hygiene. But you’d hope that a bigger space upstairs, when it opens, will mean more facilities (for both sexes, please).
So bring on the fancy upstairs opening, and let us try some more great seafood from sexy Super Miss Sue – I think she’s here to stay.
Super Miss Sue, Drury Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: +353 1 679 9009.