Samba Grille

Accompanied by Mr. Delicious Mischief himself, we quickly made our way to the world’s best mini movie room ever. Directly in front of the very spot in which our chef slash owner interview would commence, played a movie of massive classic proportion. John became super sentimental upon realizing this movie was in fact… Casablanca.

Triple Sad Ending Sniffle.

As John prepared to tape radio, perfectly plated creations were scattered across the table. Ponderment began as geography controlled all thoughts. How could it be? Downtown is super scary to those scampering out & about to wine & dine. A curse seems to have hold on many in Houston, with power comparable to that of a force field, if only force fields were real.

Move on people. Just because downtown had construction of the street for a century does not mean it can’t be forgiven. There comes a time when people have to let go of the past by thrusting all irritations into the wind. All non-attempting to downtown dwell, well, go to … oh, I mean hurry up. Crossing the downtown border is in order. Why? The answer is quite simple. Samba’s spanking almost brand new executive chef… David Guerrero.

Samba’s happy hour is available weekdays  4:30 to 6:00 p.m. with a slew of South American specialty drinks. Mozy on up to the bar to begin sipping on Fernet con Cola. Yes, that’s right. Samba’s pineapple & vanilla infused cachaca is sure to pip all skips, while others may fancy a blackberry margarita martini with Patron silver tequila, Cointreau, muddled blackberries, and sugar.

Ceviche mixto is a classic Peruvian dish with fish, shrimp, calamari, aji, lime juice, a shot of leche de tigre, and the always exciting sweet potato purée. Chunky pieces of seafood have been poached in citrus lime juice for almost 15 minutes, only to become one with limo pepper to maintain its supersonic spicy flavors.

Sweet & spicy scallops are crusted with panela “brown sugar” and served with fava beans, rocoto pepper emulsion, and black quinoa grain.

Scallop sashimi “tiradito” is cured in chicha morada, having black potato, avocado, cancha maiz, and preserved lemon. Another fantastic starter is the salmon tartare with crispy salmon skin, Scottish salmon, aged balsamic, and limo pepper vinaigrette.

Word around town declares Samba’s crab cake with yucca & maracuyá beurre blanc to be the opposite of an average super duper snoozer slash 99% breaded mess. Chef Guerrero seconds that, professing their standards steer them very clear from the always frightening subpar crab cake. Like.

Tableside pouring joy came to life during delivery of the lobster corn bisque “sango” with butter poached lobster, cilantro oil, and white corn “choclo.”

Just try and stop  thoughts of chef David Cordúa & all that is Américas (pause…) during this gift delivery. What felt like an explosion of popcorn was simply a bowl of roasted aji soup with tomatoes & aji pepper marisol.

Often equally as boring as a crab cake, this Caesar was anything but. With shaved parmesan, lemon infused croutons, and pepeddew confit, there was not a single Caesar tragedy during this dish of unexpected delish. Samba also offers the solterito salad with fava beans, crushed choclo, queso fresco, tomatoes, baby boston, and aji amarillo vinaigrette.

John went with loads of carcass, while AVH settled for Ecuadorian pleasure produced through sea bass bliss.  Shrimp, red onion escabeche, platintain leaf, aji amarillo butter, and yucca purée are all responsible for entrée triumph.

Beware of the suckling pork & lamb t-bone on the left, one might head on over to the right side of the menu to quickly pick tamarind glazed salmon with choclo humita, tamarind in a green mango sauce with watercress salad.

Served on both the lunch & dinner menu is a lobster salad with spicy butter poached lobster, tangerine aioli, avocado, oven dried tomatoes, hearts of palm, and spring mix. Smoosh this bundle of joy flat to witness plate filling at its very best. Samba’s tuna salad is an excellent choice as well, having sashimi seared tuna, sweet-n-spicy ginger vinaigrette, heirloom radishes, and green mango.

Samba’s pastry chef explained his somewhat simple goal.  While still moving forward with different techniques, there is a must to blend tradition as well. Whether it’s French stuff or molecular gastronomy, you will not catch this chef doing anything but respecting all ingredients.

After several visits, pionono is hands down superior to all desserts presently existing on this planet. Feel your toes tingle while consuming sponge cake filled with mascarpone, dulce de leche, and goat cheese.  Sealing the deal is a chicha morada sauce resting all comfy beside a scoop of lucuma ice cream, which is a traditional fruit from Peru.

Wowzer. Samba’s pastry chef is not messing around. While offering house-made tres leches, save room for chocolate cake with aji mango mousse, Ecuadorian sweet empanadas, and house-made tropical sorbets.

Executive Chef David Guerrero
Photo: Clark Lara Photography

We bow & give thanks to Samba’s fantastic team of front slash back of the house troopers. Guerrero’s use of technique in his a la carte approach to authentic South American cuisine is a definite win. So long semi sorda rodizo slash Brazilian-gaucho-meat-sword-serving-scary. This change is welcome. Yes & Yes.

FIVE: High 5!

FOUR: Please & Thank You

THREE: Yada

TWO: Double Wow

ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch

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