Suri Tapas Bar Offers Traditional and New Age Dishes in Downtown Lake Worth

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A new restaurant has opened off Lucerne Ave. in downtown Lake Worth, taking the space formerly known as Fiorentina, an Italian restaurant that vacated the space over a year ago.

Suri -- which means "pickpocket" in Japanese -- will offer diners what co-owners John Pata and Matthew Barger term alternative American cuisine. Barger has worked as the general manager for Cucina Dell'Arte in Palm Beach and, most recently, The Coach House, formerly the Player's Club in Wellington.

Barger told Clean Plate Charlie his goal is to produce dishes that get people excited to try something different. His inspiration came from the West Coast; Barger spent five months traveling across California, from Nappa Valley to San Diego. Out of all the concepts, the tapas bars resonated the most.

"This isn't about creating a concept that's going to generate the biggest profit margin for the least amount of effort," said Barger, who hired executive chef John Kuropatwa from New Jersey to run the kitchen. "We're staying true to ourselves, and doing what we do best. Thinking outside the box, doing things right."

Suri's menu is divided into three sections, offering both traditional and new-age tapas dining. It begins with "Garden & Co." and "Just Me," a series of smaller plates, priced $8-$15, which are good for grazing and sharing alike. Try the Tostones Caribe, small fried plantain cups filled with shrimp or pork and a spicy mango salsa. There's also prosciutto-wrapped figs filled with goat cheese and served on a bed of crushed pistachio with a cherry and pinot noir reduction.

Larger plates, priced $14-$23, encourage a different type of sharing, and are listed under the "You & Me" section. While everything on the menu is made-to-order, said Barger, the Crispy Duck Confit Cigars are a great example of a dish with a touch more attention to detail. Braised duck is pulled from the bone and wrapped in a phyllo dough with fresh tarragon and seared shallots, then rolled into phyllo in the shape of cigars, and baked to order. They're served with a horseradish foam and presented in a food-service-only ash tray.

Another favorite: The Desayuno de Campeon, which translates to breakfast of champions. The dish is composed of two blueberry pancakes, plated on a spread of house made tomato jam. Each are topped with braised pork belly and a couple of fried quail eggs.

Using the food service-only ash tray, and offering up unique flavor pairings, are the "quirky touches" Barger is hoping will set his restaurant apart from the others.

Suri's space has a casual, lounge-like vibe split between a covered outdoor patio and dim-lit interior dining room with table and booth seating. Ample bar space with plenty of elbow room offers additional seating, and is perfect for sharing a few plates, drinks or a glass of wine. Behind the bar, mixologist Justin Hardie has composed a short -- but inventive -- cocktail menu. A stand-out selection: the Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan made using the sweet and sour cotton candy from Hoffman's chocolate shop next door.

"Above all, the ambiance is what is most unique about what we do. There's a difference between service and hospitality. Service is bringing clean silverware; hospitality is remembering people's birthdays, and making an anniversary special," said Barger. "That's what we'll be focusing on."

Suri Tapas Bar is located at 707 Lake Worth Ave. in Lake Worth. Call 561-249-7436, or visit surirestaurant.wordpress.com.

Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.

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