I used to love this place…I used to love this chain…I have so many great food memories from the Miami and Manhattan restaurant locations and hope that they haven’t also become this decrepit.
SAMBA used to be fun. Where else could you put together an evening of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian fusion cuisine, music and design? I stopped in three times over a five week period and found myself sitting in broken chairs at chipped tables in a filthy restaurant with stained carpet and dirty dishes. What the hell happened here people?
The food was good…well let me rephrase that…the food was above average and only because it still retains some of it’s exciting roots that can’t easily be found elsewhere; I’m a sucker for aji infused wasabi and a heaping bowl of cancha fried corn.
Over my three dinner meals I had some ups and downs. The flash fried Japanese river crab was ok, the black truffle aioli was limp and cold yet the chicharron was excellent. Consistency is probably the biggest issue I found…even a simple yellow tail ceviche which was very good the first time I ordered it, came back the following week as a disaster which hung thickly on my spoon and bubbled in my stomach. The Samba rolls seem to have the best shelf life from visit to visit, particularly the zuke tuna and kobe rolls. The entrées I stomached were boring including a quinoa casserole which stunk like dirty mushrooms. really? The highlight of all three visits was the medley of four seaweeds; clean and fresh and yummy.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Sushi Samba is no longer hip. It’s not even clean and the food is not exciting enough any longer to hold your attention. So long Sex and the City crowd. The fusion nature of the space as a bar restaurant live music special event venue probably has merit these days, but I’m not interested in gagging down sloppy fare to live Afro-Brazilian percussion pumped to 100 decibels. The martinis are strong and the liquor is top shelf.