Between the made-from-scratch menu, home-style atmosphere, and impeccable beer and wine on show, Bitter Suite is one hell of a bright spark. The low-lit corner it inhabits in New Farm has seen many a cafe and restaurant — but this one's a stayer. Its ritzed-up pub style decor, married to food that'll have you humming with delight, makes an atmosphere so UK-esque, you'll think you're stuck in the first stop of some type of high-end Contiki tour.
The brains and brilliance behind Bitter Suite are Katherine and Braden Saunders, alongside chef Andy Birse, with input from all their suppliers, butchers, and drink providers. Their overriding aim has been to import the feel of a UK local pub — you know, that joint with the bartender who knows your name, steaks the size of fists, and a few staple brews that all taste like beer.
However, while Bitter Suite has captured what a local should feel like, it's strayed in terms of what it should taste and look like. Substitute your classic parmigiana for Jurassic quail, served with crispy pork, tomato, basil and a house-made ricotta as silken as it is rich. Swap steak with crumbed black pudding or the beef short rib, and that hearty lamb shank most pubs carry as a winter special for a Saltbush slow-cooked lamb.
And dessert carries just as many delights. Both the coffee brownie with malted stout ice cream and white chocolate mousse with rhubarb throw any beneficiary into a sugar daze. The menu changes every three to four months, always reflecting what's fresh, in season and suited to the weather. Thankfully, the favourites, like chips and aioli and a few of the desserts, stick around all year.
The selection of beers are so finely sourced and curated they rival Archive and The Scratch. The wines as well, sourced from Lock Stock and Barrel, are solid quality. This is the type of restaurant where you don't have to go out on a whim or use initiative when it comes to drink selection. Ask what partners best with the meal you order, and the staff will be all to happy to share their knowledge.
Bitter Suite is all about sharing, family and providing modern pub food at prices that aren't as New Farmy as you'd expect. They probably deserve a Michelin star for love and passion, but this gushing review will have to do for now.
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