Sherman's Food Adventures: S+L Kitchen & Bar (South Surrey)

S+L Kitchen & Bar (South Surrey)

It was a matter of time that S+L Kitchen & Bar started expanding and opening up new locations.  With the backing of the Joseph Richard Group as well as employing Masterchef winner David Jorge (Corporate Chef) and Top Chef Canada winner Matt Stowe (Director of Culinary Operations), S+L doesn't lack star power.  Now name recognition is one thing, but what about the food?  I visited the original Langley location one year ago and I came away impressed with several of their signature dishes (especially the ones from David Jorge).  Recently, I was invited along with Mijune and Nora to visit their brand-spanking new location in South Surrey.

So when eating with Mijune... it can only mean one thing...  eat everything.  That we did including some Kusshi Oysters with Thai basil and traditional mignonette, lemon and horseradish. These were shucked properly with visually-appealing shells and no fragments.  The oysters were buttery and sweet with the usual brininess.  Next up was the Crispy Sushi Rice topped with albacore tuna, soy sesame dressing, pickled ginger, wasabi lime aioli and cilantro.  As heavy as the block of sushi rice appeared, it was crispy as advertised and not too dense.  With that being said, it could be 1/3rd smaller in size.  The tuna on top was buttery soft while aggressively seasoned with hits of sesame oil, the zing from the ginger and tartness from the lime.  I loved the contrast of cold tuna atop the hot rice.

Onto something more familiar but with a twist, we were presented with the Hero Wings.  This one pound portion sported big drumettes and mid-wing portions. They were crispy on the outside (with rendered skin) and juicy on the inside.  The light brine meant that the wings weren't inherently too salty.  That was a good thing as it allowed the spicy ginger soy caramel glaze do the heavy lifting.  There was a balanced combination of salty, sweet, vinegary and spicy elements.  When we first laid eyes on the Fried Cauliflower, it wasn't visually-pleasing.  However, looks can be deceiving as this was pretty tasty.  The cauliflower was firm (yet cooked all-the-way-through) and lightly crispy on the outside.  They were brined in buttermilk and seasoned with hot sauce.  Hence, it went well with the sharp and sweet blue cheese dressing.

Something more appealing to look at was the Lamb Popsicles (normally served with 3 pieces) spiced with zataar, sumac, lemon and garlic served atop house-made hummus.  These were prepared medium-rare which ensured their succulence and tender texture.  The spices really came through, yet at the same time, the lamb was not over-seasoned.  Loved the garlicky hit from the egg white and garlic sauce.  The next dish was actually a hybrid of 2 including the Seared Scallop atop Ricotta & Basil Ravioli.  I enjoyed the mouth-feel of the buttery scallop where it was almost juicy.  It was nicely-seared and seasoned just enough.  Underneath, the house-made ravioli was tender with a bite.  There was an impactful spice from the calabrian chili which was balanced off with enough acidity.  There was also an even amount of sweetness from the ricotta filling and saltiness from the seasoning and olives. 

Continuing on with larger plates, we had another pasta in the Lobster & Prawn Linguine in a San Marzano tomato sauce with fennel, calabrian chili and basil.  I thought this was well-executed in terms of pasta and ingredients.  The shellfish was buttery, moist and lightly bouncy while the linguine was al dente.  The crunch from the fennel was a great textural contrast as well as the classic essence.  The chilis added a noted spiciness, but it wasn't overwhelming either.  Hands-down, the best dish of the night was the famous Master Chicken (normally served with 3 pieces) featuring crispy fried chicken coated in a rice flour batter.  Unlike the one at Juke, this one could've passed for a flour coating.  It stayed adhered until the last bite with rendered skin.  The chicken was succulent and extremely juicy.  It wasn't over-brined hence it wasn't too salty either.  The creamed corn with bacon was also stellar with a nice consistency and sweet salty pops of flavour.

Another David Jorge specialty is the Pan-Fried Sablefish surrounded by a warm bacon fingerling potato salad.  Unfortunately, while being delivered to our table, one part of the delicate sablefish fell apart (for a better picture, see my Langley location post).  Visuals aside, the execution was a bit different than the last time.  It was definitely more aggressively seared.  That meant the exterior was crispy and well-seasoned.  Inside, the fish was buttery and flaky where the miso and citrus mayo were great compliments.  The firm, yet cooked-through potatoes were nicely dressed with a crunchy bacon and smoked egg yolk dressing.  Also arriving at the same time was the Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with lobster mash and roasted mushrooms.  Prepared medium-rare (but not too rare), the fats were activated so that the meat was juicy and tender.  It was nicely crusted and seasoned as well.  Prepared with lobster stock, the mash was buttery and exhibited the classic lobster essence.

This was supposed to be the end of our savoury dishes, but Mijune was still hungry (yah right?).  So we soldiered on with the Crispy Local Brussels Sprouts.  I had these before and although they were pretty sweet due to the maple gastrique and candied pumpkin seeds.  With that being said, the smoked bacon and panko Parmesan helped balance the dish out a bit (still on the sweeter side though). The spouts were still firm while fried just enough.  Some places do it too aggressively and it becomes oily.  It wasn't too bad here.  Although it didn't look like much and in reality, was a pretty light sandwich, the Lobster & Prawn Burger was tasty.  Naturally, it wasn't as heavy nor fulfilling as a beef burger, but that isn't the point.  The patty was delicate with a buttery bounce.  It was complimented by avocado, bacon, lettuce, red onion and secret sauce on brioche.

I was too full to eat at this point, but I had to keep going (first world problems) with the Fried Mac & Cheese Sticks.  Again, I've had these before and this was consistent.  It featured crispy breaded mac n' cheese made with both American and aged cheddar.  Hence, they were creamy, cheesy, salty and sharp.  There was a hint of spice too.  I liked how they weren't greasy, but in the end, this was still a heavy appie best to be shared.  The side of San Marzano tomato sauce was tangy and sweet which was a nice way to break up the richness.  Plated with much more house-made tzatziki, the Crispy Calamari wasn't as crispy as the last time I tried it.  With that being said, the squid was quite tender (a bit soft for my liking).  The tangy and creamy tzatziki added the necessary flavour.  Completing the dish was crispy chickpeas, red bell peppers, mint, pickled onions and a dusting of Mediterranean seasoning.

We were actually served the East Coast Lobster Rolls earlier in the meal, but I decided to write about it here (my blog, my choice...  LOL).  These were warm and crispy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside.  They were stuffed with a Nova Scotian lobster and shrimp salad with lemon aioli and red onion.  Having returned from the East Coast last Summer, I've become rather picky about my lobster rolls.  These were passable, but the filling was not robust enough.  Seeing they are priced at only $5.00 each, we couldn't have expected anymore lobster due to cost.  On a return visit for lunch, I decided to get the S+L Double Cheeseburger with bacon (added cost), lettuce, tomato, JRG sauce and red onion on brioche.  This thing was super messy and delicious.  The hand-pressed patty was moist and juicy while the cheese, bacon and sauce created enough flavour to make things impactful.  The bun didn't stand up very well to the mess though.

For dessert, we were served both the Chocolate Dome and Individual Baked Cookie with vanilla ice cream.  As evidenced in the picture, a chocolate brownie, ice cream and fruit were hidden underneath the  chocolate dome until doused with creme Anglaise.  An IG story darling, this dessert was fine with a not-too-sweet brownie.  I would've liked to see the candied walnuts to be more crunchy though.  Warm, crunchy and pretty sweet, the fresh-baked cookie was pretty addictive.  The ice cream was not as rich as I would've liked.  So there you have it, we ate nearly the whole menu and most of it ranged from decent to very good.  For a chain restaurant, that is a pretty good achievement.  Prices are fair in my opinion as it is not more than other similar restaurants out there.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Most dishes were good and the signature dishes were even better
- Okay pricing since it is not any pricier than other restaurant chains
- Good service (based on my paid revisit)

The Bad:
- Portion sizes can vary
- Lobster roll was more of a shrimp roll


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