Located on Main and 6th, Bar Susu is the sister spot to the newly-minted Michelin star restaurant Published on Main. Occupying what was known for years as The Whip, a place for elevated pub fare like smash burgers and craft beer, Bar Susu revives the historic Mount Pleasant space as an evening-only haunt.
“It’s a bit difficult to find late night spots that are offering cuisine and beverages that you want to stand by philosophically,” says wine director Brittany Hoorne, who hails from Dachi. “After the clock strikes a certain hour, there’s not a ton of options available. I think as industry people, we all want to get off work and drink something nice and eat something good.”
Joined by chef de cuisine Marc Marayag, Hoorne is out to facilitate a cozy space where post-dinner-rush diners, drinkers, and fellow industry folks can kick up their feet, get comfortable, and try something new.
They’ve been rewarded for their efforts by winning the Golden Plate for Best Wine Bar.
“Marc is introducing people to things they might have not tried before,” Hoorne says of the well-travelled chef. “And I’m also doing the same things on the wine side as well… I feel like people kind of come in with a fairly open mind and are almost more excited to try things that they’ve not seen before that they might be a little bit unsure about, which is just super fulfilling at the end of the day.”
Marayag brings his Euro-Japanese influence to Bar Susu, having honed his skills in Paris and at London’s two-Michelin-star Japanese restaurant, Umu. It’s Vancouver, however, where he’s getting his current inspiration.
“We have a bounty of seafood here,” he says. “I’m trying to find more unknown or less utilized fish and seafood. Let’s say something like arctic char or sturgeon—things like that, whenever I have them available. I’m trying to find efficient local fishermen to work with. I found a few [recently], and I’m pretty excited to get more things that aren’t just spot prawns and salmon.”
And complementing Marayag’s locally-sourced but Japanese-inspired menu are Hoorne’s favourite BC wines (and a certain Senkin Nature Organic Kimoto sake).
“I think that we forget how lucky we are to be so near exciting wine regions,” Hoorne says. “You can drive a few hours in one direction and find a whole other world. It’s very special for us in BC. I think it’s easy to be romanced by wine and essentially transported all over the world, but it’s nice at the end of the day to kind of realize, hey, we are one of those places.”
Depending on your desires, Bar Susu offers three types of service: à la carte, chef’s choice, or the eight-course tasting menu, which includes a selection of starting snacks and larger plates, and finishes off with an innovative dessert such as the coconut rice pudding—made up of mango sorbet, Marcona almonds, yuzu meringue, and tonka.
Menu favourites include the chicken liver rosettes or the hot smoked trout, complete with goma-ae, dashi butter sauce, and herbs.
“But we usually change the garnish,” Marayag adds.
“Right now we have swiss chard and spinach because it’s in-season, and a few months ago we were having kale.”
Hoorne is quick to come in with its perfect pairing.
“I have some sneaky bottles,” she says, noting that her wine program includes very small batches of some of her favourite wines. Hoorne’s rotating wines-by-the-glass can be found listed on Bar Susu’s chalkboards.
“The chicken liver rosettes [pair] with this really fun, ancestral method pinot noir. So like a sparkling rose—it’s fresh, a little bit sweet. If you’re sitting down and you don’t want to think and you just want to get started and you’re happy with something bubbly in your glass, I’d say rosettes and some sparkling pinot noir is great.”
Whether determined to imbibe in the 2.5 hour tasting menu at the top of the evening, or stopping in for the late night snacks (available from 10pm to close), there’s a perfect little bite and a wine pairing waiting for you at Bar Susu.
Bar Susu is located at 209 East 6th Avenue.
Check out the rest of our Golden Plates 2023 coverage here.