Samar’s creators paid huge attention to design. The following video is a tour of the restaurant with Stephan Pyles. (Pardon the sound; the place was packed.)
We sent Andrew Chalk to cover the semi-soft opening of Samar by Stephan Pyles. Here is his report. You want chandeliers? Stephan Pyles bought some chandeliers for Samar. Go Andrew:
Samar by Stephan Pyles held its invite-only preview party on Saturday and, judging by the turnout, reservations to this new eatery are going to be hard to get. (The official opening day is still TBD but planned for “early October.”)
Saturday, close to 1,000 of Stephan’s closest friends piled into the restaurant, the patio, and a specially rented spillover area. Despite the crowd, the staff coped with the rush like a well-oiled machine. Even the periodic guest-dropping-a-glass-in-a-crowded-bar problem was immediately met with a staffer who cordoned off the area while another cleaned it clean up. The kitchen and wait staff dispatched appetizers with that frictionless regularity which makes you wonder if the servers aren’t on roller skates.
The centerpiece of any restaurant is the food. Pyles installed Vijay Sadhu, formerly of Bukhara Grille and Clay Pit, as head chef because he wanted Indian cuisine to be one of the inspirations at Samar.The other influences on the menu come from Spain and the area loosely defined as the Eastern Mediterranean (mainly Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey). Here is chef Sadhu describing some of the appetizers.
Chef Sadhu showed the crowd his ambitious stuff—all of the food was prepared perfectly. As he showed at his earlier positions, Vijay Sadhu is an expert and combining flavors and bringing them out in his dishes. Here is a short list of what was served: Red Lentiles Kofte (Turkish), Kebbeh with Golden beets tzatziki sauce, Chicken kebab stuffed with spiced gound lamb served with Spice tomato jam and crispy okra, Saffron Paneer tikka with spiced vermicelli and cumin scented asparagus, Chocolate Samosa with rose jam, and Papadam cones stuffed with Mung sprouts
Guests were offered either a specially created martini that apparently involved pomegranate juice (and had a fruity approachability that made it deceptively easy to imbibe) or one of a number of respectable wines.This food, by the way, is wine-friendly.
Outside, the patio was put to good use. Belly dancers entertained the crowd that, coincidentally, became progressively less and less reserved.
Hookah pipes were available to complete one’s sense transportation from the corner of Ross and Olive to some exotic country.
7 Comments »
See Evan Grant? In the photo, he is literally pigging out on Italian pork products in a small restaurant in San Gusme, Italy. Tonight, Mr. Grant will also be pigging out on Italian pork products and more at Nonna. Those pork products, along with the pici pasta and stuffed squash blossoms pictured below, inspired execuchef Julian Barsotti’s menu for tonight’s SideDish SupperClub at Nonna. A few people canceled this morning. If you’re in the mood for a first class Tuscan supper, join us. 214-521-1800.4 Comments »
Hey Ruth, I’ll come to your Gourmet Today book signing at Williams Sonoma in Northpark on Wednesday, September 23 at 3:00 p.m. if you will come to SideDish’s Celebration of Texas Wine and Cheese from 5:00 to 7:00pm the same day. You will get to meet fellow author Paula Lambert of the award-winning Mozzarella Company and the folks from Latte Da and Lucky Layla. All three local cheese makers just picked up multiple awards at the 25th Annual American Cheese Society Competition. You will also get to sample some fine red wine from Kiepersol Estates in East Texas. It’s all happening at Celebration Restaurant on West Lovers in Dallas. Have your handlers arrange it. Gourmet magazine needs to taste this cheese and drink this wine. ( I Twittered this post to Reichl.)2 Comments »
Is reality TV good for the career of a chef? I don’t watch enough to have an educated opinion but, from where I sit, it looks like more top chefs bottom out after their 15 minutes, or months, of fame. Casey who? Tre what? Lisa Garza is where? Dig what I’m shooting at you?
Next girl up is Central 214’s Blythe Beck. She will star in The Naughty Kitchen With Chef Blythe Beck on Oxygen. I’ve never really understood the naughty kitchen concept. So I checked the shows website. It says:
Blythe Beck, the fiery young chef and star of Oxygen’s upcoming series The Naughty Kitchen With Chef Blythe Beck, shows off her distinctive sexy American cuisine, her cutting edge Dallas restaurant, Central 214, and her loud and flamboyant staff. The Naughty Kitchen With Chef Blythe Beck is certain to cook up the drama both in and out of the kitchen. Oxygen follows executive chef Blythe Beck, a 29-year old Texas native, who is plus-sized in stature and personality, and her colorful crew at Central 214, inside and outside the kitchen as they interact with the Dallas elite and the local university students.
Monday night I went to Central 214 to check it out and write a mini-review. Sadly, I didn’t see waitresses in garter belts or waiters wearing thongs, but I did find the Door Whores. And calories. Lots of calories. What is sexy about calories? I guess we will find out when the show starts on September 22nd. Somebody tell me this is a good thing.29 Comments »
Yow. Zah. Pegasus News is, as my mother always says, chicken on fire. First they announce “Outbursts,” and now I learn on Twitter they’ve lured Shannon Sutlief from her perches at DMN, GuideLive.com, and Eatsblog to the roost at PegNews. I wonder if roost-ruling Teresa Gubbins (no link, Sweet Cheeks, I do have limits) will even talk to me anymore. She’s pretty big time now.4 Comments »
Last week was a very slow news week. To spice things up, I played a few games like “Guess the Best Onion Rings Restaurant ” and “What is the Worst Meal You Ever Ate.” It was so fun that we spun off a game inside the game: “Uncle Nancy’s 67th Commenter.” If a person became the 67th commenter, they got a prize. Why 67? As my mom used to say, “Because.”
However, like in all games, somebody broke the rules. Chef Brian Luscher of The Grape posted 11 times straight to hit 67 and then expected to win. Obviously fame has gone to his (beat, beat) head. I scolded him in the thread. He feels so bad he offers this as an apology:
You wrote: “Luscher, out of the game. To the showers. Disqualified. Call Pat Sharpe and have her take you to Wingfield’s. Best Burger? Make onion rings like these and we’ll talk.”
Ouch. Please forgive my double espresso fueled bout of mid- Restaurant Week buffoon-ery. I hope I didn’t ruin your tea party. Here is what I propose to remain in the good graces of you and your constituency of SideDish Nationales;
1. I will make you those exact onion rings. [it's a secret how I will pull it off]
2. I am inviting you and your “Be the 67th Commenter” winners in for burgers and said onion rings.
3. I will provide 10 gift certificates for burgers at The Grape for the next ten commenters.
Yow. Zah. HERE ARE THE RULES. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post a question designed to attract a zillion comments. Each time a person becomes the 67th commenter, they will be eligible for special dinner at The Grape. [So far, we have three “Uncle Nancy’s 67th Commenter” winners: Sexy Jeff (Worst Meal), Brad (Onion rings), and George (Best Meal).]
To get warmed up, get goin’ on Luscher’s deal. The first ten commenters today get gift certificates to The Grape.45 Comments »
I’m headed out to do a dining review with my BlackBerry tucked in a hidden spot. I’ll “Tweet and Eat.” See if you can guess my location. (DSideDish)7 Comments »
I love onion rings. I love them big and tall. I love them greasy and small. Recently I ordered onion rings at a restaurant in Dallas and I was shocked—these are the best rings I’ve had in Dallas in a long time. Since Restaurant Week basically kills the food news biz, let’s play another game today: Can you guess where these onion rings were cooked? Go. Somebody will win something.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER:
GJ86 Comments »
This morning we talked a lot about wine lists and managing beverage programs. One of the panelists, Joe Spellman, had some interesting things to say about wine by the glass and the current “fetish with half bottles” on wine lists. I attempted to shoot an award-winning video. Instead, I got a poor sound quality video clip of a really nice, smart wine guy making some good points. So, put on your headphones. You know where to put the cork.1 Comment »
Notes and quotes (in shorthand) from the just-completed “Management of a Beverage Program”
*Sommeliers are considered greedy prima donnas that take your money. In reality, they must be an artist, businessperson, and maintain a low ego. Good qualities of a sommelier include—team player, able to do other restaurant tasks, and be physically strong.
*What not to do in a bad economy: panelists are all concerned about “doing deals.” They don’t mean anything if everyone is doing them. When the economy comes back, the customers will remember and think “when the economy is good, you are screwing us.” So, wine programs need to spin programs differently and readjust their long-term and short-term goals. “Think outside the box, lower the cost of sales and increase your volume.” “Engender good will.” “View this time as an opportunity to buy new or lesser know styles or regions.” “Indies should depend on this.”
*“Food writers hammer restaurateurs and sommeliers on wine prices, but don’t hammer spirit prices.” “We are a business and have to make money.”
*Basics of building a wine program. Have ten familiar “core wines” such as Jordan, Cakebread, Silver Oak, Dom Perignon and sell them at a lower price than your competition. You will look like a hero. Customers are familiar with these wines and will feel more comfortable and consider your list as a good value list.
*Developing lists for small indie restaurant. Balance regions and price points and allow the list be a direct extension of your menu and concept. (Some on the panel felt it was essential to have core brands on the list; others disagreed.) “If core wines are 50%, the list is a bummer.” Write your wine list without any wine first. Pick your types of wines and your price points and then develop and map the list with particular wines. This not only helps control your costs, it pairs your wine list with your business model and menu.
*The economy and overpriced wines. There are overpriced wines all over the world and they are in the process of a worldwide correction in prices. The strong will survive, but there will be blood in the streets for others.
*Wine prices follow Wall Street bonuses. People invest in the Bordeaux market based on Wall Street bonuses.
*What do you do if the customer wants to pay a certain price for a wine? If you “eBay” the wine, the customer will always remember. Don’t do it. Use it as an opportunity to find out what price they want to pay for a wine and then guide them to another selection. Usually the people with the most money play this game. “When the Wall Street guys got their $10 million bonuses, they tried to make deals on wine and took it out on sommeliers.” According to the panel, a lot of Wall Street dropped some “sick money” on wine. Those days are gone.1 Comment »
Greetings from the Grand Sabine Ballroom at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas. Andrew Chalk and I are here to cover the 5th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference (TexSom) “To The Trade” segment of the conference. Yesterday, approximately 200 wine lovers showed up for tastings and lectures on Pinot Noir, Sake, Austrian wines, Rioja, and wines from Northern Rhone.
As we were sipping and learning, a group of 21 wine professionals were behind the scenes in other banquet room taking tests and competing for the Texas’ Best Sommelier contest. The winner will be announced tonight at the Grand Tasting.
“Management of a Beverage Program” starts in a little while and will be followed by seminars on “Aperitifs”, “Cool Climate Australia”, Texas Wine”, and Napa Valley (Floor vs Hill Side). If you have any questions for any of the speakers, send me an e-mail. Otherwise, there is always Twitter (DSideDish) if you need immediate gratification.
Last night the 5th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference (TexSom) kicked off at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas. Master Sommeliers Drew Hendricks, James Tidwell, and Guy Stout, the chief organizers, welcomed 21 other Master Sommeliers to the conference by putting them in a bus and taking them to Southfork for a barbecue. I was invited to join them and I must say I felt like I was crashing a very private party. These sommeliers and their wine industry friends are a refreshingly tight group and were obviously happy to be back in each others’ company. The Texas Sommelier Association has provided an effective association for wine people to promote professional wine service standards, outline paths for wine education, and to raise public awareness about what sommeliers do. In their spare time, they are party animals. Check out the photos from last night.1 Comment »
Wine writers, professional “whiners,” bloggers, and wine makers participated in a Twitter Taste-Off at the 2009 GO TEXAN Drinklocalwine.com Conference in Dallas. It was crazy. Check out my photo album here. If you want to experience the Twitter madness, go to Twitter and type in “DLW09.” Forty five local wines from 23 wineries competed. Jump for the winners. Continue reading "2009 GO TEXAN Drinklocalwine.com Conference in Dallas: Twitter Taste-Off Winners"1 Comment »
Last night, I joined around 50 grape groupies from all over the country for the kick off dinner for the first GO TEXAN Drinklocalwine.com conference. The event, which continues all day today, will focus on Texas wine and feature some of the state’s best wines, top winemakers, and leading growers. Click here for a slide show of pictures of last night’s dinner and Texas wine pairings at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas. Those kids can freakin’ cook. Check back, we’ll be reporting all day or follow us on Twitter. (DSideDish)
There are two significant wine conferences taking place in Dallas this weekend.The GO TEXAN Drinklocalwine.com event starts tonight with a dinner at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts. On Saturday the all-day conference will feature seminars focusing on trends in Texas wine, the distinctive grapes that Texans are using to make those wines, and how consumers can work to get more regional wines in stores and restaurants. The final event of the day will be a Texas Twitter Taste-off, moderated by Russ Kane of Vintage Texas. Participants will taste some 40 Texas wines and blog or Twitter about them. Their votes will pick the conference’s favorite wines. I’ll be one of those Twittering fools (DSideDish). BTW, the event is sold out.
On Sunday, the fifth annual Texas Sommelier Conference (TexSom) kicks off at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas. The two-day event includes lectures and tastings with the nation’s preeminent wine experts. There are five classes on Sunday, August 16 (some tickets still available) and a grand tasting on Monday evening, August 17th. A separate set of courses, designed exclusively for the trade and media, will take place on Monday. While the courses are conducted, a competition for Texas’ Best Sommelier runs behind the scenes. On Monday evening, the conference concludes with a Grand Tasting(a few tickets available), where wine professionals and the public come together to taste world-class wines and witness the drama and celebration surrounding the naming of Texas’ Best Sommelier 2009. Last year’s winner is Scott Barber of Dallas’ Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. He dominated 24 other competitors and won the coveted title after a rigorous three-part examination involving wine tasting, service and theory. Once again, I will be a Twittering and blogging fool.1 Comment »
I’m headed out to do a dining review. See if you can guess my location. (DSideDish)8 Comments »
See those grapes to the left? Today, they will be mine. Our staff photographer, Elizabeth “Spider Monkey” Lavin and I are out in East Texas doing a feature on Kiepersol Winery. It’s harvest time and today, while Spider Monkey is taking pictures, I will be harvesting grapes. Twitter reports (DSideDish) to follow.3 Comments »
I’m in Beantown to do a story on seafood. Later today, Amy and Jim Severson will join me and for the next couple of days we are going to tour fish markets and fisheries. Wednesday we are going fishing. I am looking for a spot for dinner tonight. Anyone? (Will be Tweeting: DSideDish.) BTW: The high today in Boston is going to be 71. Degrees.21 Comments »
The best burger in Texas according to Texas Monthly is served at The Grape in Dallas. Here is the list:
TEXAS MONTHLY’s 50 BEST HAMBURGERS IN TEXAS:
1. The Grape, Dallas, Classic Cheeseburger
2. Counter Café, Austin, Counter Burger
3. Alamo Springs Café, Fredericksburg, Cheeseburger (With Green Chiles on a Jalapeno-Cheese Bun)
4. Toro Burger Bar, El Paso, Toro Burger
5. The Cove, San Antonio, Texas Burger
6. The Porch, Dallas, The Stodg
7. Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Buffalo Gap, Hamburger Steak on a Bun
8. Dutch’s, Fort Worth, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Burger
9. Beck’s Prime, Houston, Bacon Cheeseburger
10. Orlando’s, Lubbock, Cheeseburger in Paradise Continue reading "Texas Monthly’s Best Burger In Texas: The Grape"