A few weeks back I had the opportunity to attend a preview of Chef David Guerrerro’s, of the Samba Grille, new fall menu. This is one spot that we had been hearing great things about so I was marking down the days on the calendar. I used this excitement to help me get past my strong dislike for going downtown. This is something I do very often these days, since there are so many good restaurants and entertainment spots downtown now.
Before going to the Samba Grille, I wanted to do a little research on Chef David; since the only things I really knew about him was that he was doing "great things" over at the Samba Grille. They say if you look long enough you will eventually find what you are looking for (when folks say this it always makes me laugh and I want to scream DUH), and that I did. This young man’s journey from private chef to executive chef in two years would be pretty impressive on its own; but add that in the same time period…
• He was diagnosed with brain cancer and had brain surgery a few weeks after the diagnosis.
• Lost his ability to taste and speak Portuguese (imagine being a chef and not being able to taste and from South America and not being able to speak Portuguese anymore)
• Lost his home, job, and the list goes on
And guess what? He’s still standing; not only is he still standing but he is kicking ass and taking names! That is my kind of person; one with lots of moxie and determination. Now, the only thing left is to find out can he cook? The time had finally come for my question to be answered.
I would be doing this dinner alone, since Urban Girl was still living it up on her vacation. The Samba Grille is located in the theater district right next to the new Robert Redford Sundance Cinema. Upon entering I was quickly shown to my seat and given a glass wine. So my evening was quickly off to a great start; good customer service and a glass a wine gets me every time. Chef David's eight course meal took us on a journey that combined his artistic culinary skills and his cultural influences. This new menu has something for those with the most distinguished of palettes to those that simply want a great tasting dish. As I listened to our dinner guide walk us through each course, I felt that my MBA was needed to understand what I was getting ready to eat! However, when I tasted the artistically perfect plates; my palette enjoyed complex, but easy to understand, tasting food. So the menu card really needed no explanation or assistance that evening. Even though the restaurant is without a Sommelier right now, the wines selected with each course were a delightful match. Each course of the dinner was well thought out and deliberate.
Cebiche Duo~ Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche, beer form, aji tomato ketchup mixto, calamari, snapper, limo pepper, sweet potato puree
Juve’ y Camps|Brut|Penedes, Espana|Rose Cava|NV
Tiradito Duo~ Chica morada cured scallop, rocoto emulsion, black potato, avocado corvina, celery-ginger emulsion, fried quinoa, chorros a la chalaca
Bodegas Ikal|1150|Mendoza, Argentina|Torrontes|2008
Solterito Salad~ Puervian salad, aji Amarillo vinaigrette, panca glazed pork belly bacon
Lobster and Corn Sango~ Buttered poached lobster, grilled choclo
Bodega Chacra|Barda|Patagonia, Argentina|Pinot Noir|2010
Leche de Tigre granite, fried sweet potatoes
Paiche~ Smoke Amazonian Paiche, grilled yucca, escabeche, aji butter
Neyen|Colchagua, Chile| Cabernet Sauvignon|Camenere|2006
Suckling Pork~ Sous Vide, dirty hominy, shaved chicharon, avocado roll, agrio sauce
Avocado Panacota~ Avocado scented panacota, lime powder, passion fruit cremeux
Messias|Portugal| White Port
Chocolate Cake~ Aji amarillio moose, mango caviar, lucuma ice cream
Emilio Lustau|PX San Emilio| Jerez, Espana|Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Each course was better than the last, but my absolute favorite was the 5th course. The smoked Paiche was one of the best pieces of fish I've ever tasted! I have not stopped talking about this meal and Chef David. Do yourself a favor and try out the Samba Grille; and if you've visited in the past make a point of trying it under the new direction of Executive Chef David Guerrerro. You'll be glad you did!
~ Felice "Swanky Girl" Sloan, Urban Swank