The second course yields a dash more contentment. Fingerling potatoes tossed in buttermilk powder and roasted to a tangy turn show up with turnips cooked in hazelnut oil and sheer ribbons of lardo, or cured pork fat. Beneath the loose salad is a subtle cashew “cream” that adds little to the equation. An alternate second course, for diners who have opted for the shorter menu, is a twist on Japanese custard, or chawanmushi. Spoon into the bowl and up comes a bite of ivory custard, cured scallop and mushrooms that have been roasted, pickled or left raw. It’s a cool and pleasing experience on approach, but not a lingering satisfaction.
Mid-meal, a slice of bread, one per diner, is brought out. In the soft light, the house-baked Danish rye appears almost black; thick and hearty, it’s served with butter that’s whipped on-site. The combination — seeded bread, creamy fat — is as comforting as a catch-up call with an old friend. I always crave a loaf of the stuff, not just because the bread is so good but because it suggests a serious cook behind it. Where is that talent the rest of the night?
Far too much at Suna goes down like a misguided experiment, and almost every dish could stand to drop a detail or two. Breast of guinea hen is fine on its own, but it comes with what tastes like hot cereal and a green powder of dried broccoli. The grains (farro and bulgar) impress me as something the fowl should have eaten, while the filings suggest colored sawdust. A block of pork shoulder is pleasant enough. The meat is festooned with kale leaves that have been swabbed with grapeseed oil, dusted with yeast flakes and baked till crisp. The big chips are fun. The vivid green puddle of pureed kale stems beneath the entree? Not so much. With a nightly repertoire of only a dozen or so dishes, the kitchen should ace more of them.
By my third visit, I’m tempted to ask for the bill before the tedium — er, tasting — is over. If desserts are not awful, they are strange. The simply billed “Chocolate” is like raiding the freezer in the dark. I get a taste of something resembling frozen poundcake followed by hard chocolate and orange blossom water. The union does not produce a happy marriage in the mouth. Apple plus cilantro plus sorghum plus malted milk equals “a lot of work for little reward,” a friend says, taking the words out of my mouth and summing up the entire evening.
The unfocused Suna calls to mind a pique of mine: restaurants that taste like rehearsals but charge full admission.