Suede Restaurant was one of those places that have been on my list since its initial opening in November 2014. A few months ago during one of my evenings of wanderings, I decided why not. I sat at the bar intending on mingling a bit. I think the bar is the best place to meet regulars and gain personal insights on any restaurant. The bartender handed me a menu and I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. I sipped my wine as I studied the menu and chatted with the young lady who sat beside me. She told me about her menu favorites and the dishes she was not fond of [remember I said you can really get a feel for a place by chatting it up with strangers, especially the ones who visited before].
My first visit to Suede Restaurant
Suede describes its menu as “Modern Caribbean Cuisine” and I was eager to indulge. Suede Restaurant is “An Extension of the Caribbean Lifestyle” [nice choice of words] and it certainly is. It was one of those days I wished I had company. There were so many yummy choices and only so much this foodie could eat at one seating. I decided to try the Treasure Island Sampler [$24] which included savory options like codfish fritters, mango BBQ wings, jerk shrimp, and sweet corn. While the food was extremely tasty, I was not too fond of the presentation. And I am not a fan of cold food unless it is supposed to be served that way.
I nibbled, chatted, and ordered the braised oxtail [$21], curry goat [$20] and the jerk splashed salmon [$22] to go. I had planned on writing about my experience at Suede. Needless to say, I never wrote about my visit. Because I was unimpressed with the food and wanted to give Suede another try. I figured my experience would be different.
I believe restaurants do have off nights and you can almost never get the true vibe of any spot on the first visit.
Another visit to Suede Restaurant
Fast forward to September sixth, in an attempt to salvage our date night. We had blown off for the last four months, hubby decided we should do dinner. As we dressed I suggested we invite my sister-in-law. Only to find out that she had reservations with friends at Suede restaurant and in turn suggested we join her. I was excited, and FINALLY able to experience Suede again.
Suede is located in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. A neighborhood many of us may not visit often, especially if we do not live close by. We often choose to dine in downtown Brooklyn and miss the diamond in the rough. Brooklyn has an abundance of Caribbean restaurants. And rightly so since there is a large population of Caribbean people living in various parts of Brooklyn. While many offer delectable dishes. Most of them are set up as take-out restaurants but we are seeing dine-in Caribbean restaurants popping up at the speed of lighting.
Suede is located on a strip that has mostly residential properties and sits opposite a tire shop. But do not be discouraged because once indoors you will be transported to someplace filled with warmth and comfort.
Upon your initial entry into the restaurant, the ambiance will amaze you. A Modern Natural interior with a Rustic twist. The rich brown decor immediately calms with a warm and intimate vibe. While I am not a fan of combining brown and black, in this space it works. They compliment each other nicely in an inviting way. The bar area is quite large and the bar staff is very attentive. The outdoor dining area takes you to a Tropical Island getaway with a combination of soft tunes from a variety of genres.
The chef + menu
Jamaican-born, Chef Kemis Lawrence has crafted a menu that can be described as a new twist to Caribbean cuisine. His modern take on traditional dishes is not lacking in flavor or Caribbean ingredients. I tasted the scotch bonnet pepper but it adds flavor not heat. Instead of a bread basket, you can nibble on plantain chips and salsa while you sip a delicious cocktail. There is nothing like a great food menu with a complementing cocktail menu.
Suede’s vision is to be the first to offer Modern Caribbean Cuisine in Brooklyn and that is certainly reflected in their menu.
I started with a cocktail “Coconut Martini” [$10] very delicious but too creamy for me. This time around I ordered the salmon crab cakes [$11] and the Treasure Island sampler [$24 ]. While I still was not impressed with the presentation of the Treasure Island sampler, it was perfectly spiced and delicious. And the salmon crab cake, I am definitely having those again. For dinner, everyone decided to order something different that way we could experience most of the menu.
We ordered Curry Jumbo shrimp [$24], it was tasty but a bit more curry powder would have made it perfect. The boneless Curry chicken [$16] was perfectly spiced and although I am not a chicken eater, I would order it again. And Creole Pasta w/Oxtail [$22], Steamed Branzino Fish [$25], Coconut Snapper [$22], Jerked Splashed Salmon [$22], Mac and Cheese [$8], and Sweet Plantains [$4] were all superior in Taste and gave a wonderful insight of the overall menu.
The intoxicating smell and combined with the taste of sweet, heat, and traditional West Indian ingredients made me appreciate my experience. And the fact that I am always willing to give a restaurant a second and third try before I conclude I have had a terrible experience [there are cases of course where a second or third try would not be considered].
I believe what makes a restaurant is an overall pleasing experience. And that is a combination of Excellent customer service, Great food, and ambiance.
The restaurant is owned by St Lucian-born Celia Belyn, I think Celia is on to something when she describes Suede Restaurant as an extension of the Caribbean lifestyle. I would say Suede is halfway there but the service is definitely lacking. I should not have to wait ten to fifteen minutes for utensils. Also, our friend should not have to wait fifteen minutes for a bowl of rice that should have been served with her entrée. Especially when she had to ask for it way too many times. And I am definitely not impressed with a server who responded “well I don’t eat seafood” when asked how about the Hellshire-style fish and chips. A simple “I have never had it however our guests seem to really enjoy it” would not only suffice. But would have certainly been more pleasing to thears.
I will definitely visit Suede again and certainly, recommend it to others [not because a nice gentleman came after us and gave us all discount cards for our next visit. But because I believe with a few tweaks this could be the place you choose as your regular dining spot. And because the Food is delicious and the ambiance is Remarkable.
There you have it my honest opinion of Suede Restaurant, and it is An Extension of the Caribbean Lifestyle.” Give Suede restaurant a try and let me know what you think, not because I say you should. But because the menu is great, I heard the Brunch is Fabulous and you eat for FREE on your birthday [with prior reservation]. What better reasons?
Images and menu details via Suede NYC
5610 Clarendon Road at East 56th Street in East Flatbush Brooklyn
Monday through Thursday 5 P. M. to 2 A. M.
Friday 3 P. M. to 2 A. M.
Saturday + Sunday 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Brunch
Kitchen Closes 2 AM Friday & Saturday|Bar Closes 3 AM
Happiest Hour Daily 25% off your drinks from 4 to 7 P. M. in the bar area. Suede Steal $25 for $50 worth of food and drinks