Spring Cleaning – Samba Cafe

Restaurant review spring cleaning!

Since starting the blog last year, I have ended up eating and taking pictures at a lot of places I haven’t gotten around to writing about. For someone who wants to tackle everything and go more in depth with the reviews, this has been one of the difficult aspects about being a part time food writer. To remedy this, I’m going to burn through my backlog in a series of posts that will be unseasonally have the Spring Cleaning moniker attached to them. ——-

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Samba Cafe Interior

To kick off the series I’m going to cover our visit to Samba Cafe; a small Brazilian restaurant located on State Street right in the heart of the High Falls neighborhood. Unlike the more well known churrascaria style restaurants (our local version is Espada in the Village Gate), Samba focuses on more home style Brazilian food instead of the over the top meat-gasm experience.

We started off with the chicken empanada which had a different flavor profile than any I had ever tried. Along with the shredded chicken, there was a number of sweet ingredients like carrot and raisin. Not what I was expecting at all, but surprisingly pretty tasty. It was lightly fried and could have used a touch more time to add crispness.

Samba Cafe Steak

The Mineiro platter was our main course and although it appears simple on the surface, there was some pretty fantastic execution going on. We opted for the steak upgrade over the standard pork and were not disappointed. The steak was simply seasoned and grilled leaving us with tender meat that had a very clean taste to it. The accompaniments were lightly sauteed ribbons of collard greens, black beans, a simple diced tomato and onion salsa and white rice. Every item was cooked to the exact right consistency and each had proper salt and seasoning to balance out the entire dish. We opted to get farofa (toasted and seasoned yucca meal) to accent our dish as well. It is a staple in Brazilian households and I can absolutely see why. Adding some to our rice and beans brought some nuttiness and texture (kind of like corn meal) that I really enjoyed and made me want to get some for home use.

I did end up using some their homemade hot sauce (jalapeno on that day) to add some acidity and heat to my portion of the dish. I would highly recommend grabbing a bottle or two of their sauce if you visit the restaurant or see them selling it out and about. The 8 or so versions all have a crisp feeling to them and really accentuate the unique flavors and sweetness of the different peppers. I bought small bottles of their cherry pepper and habanero sauces when they were set up at the Public Market one weekend and have been very satisfied with them. The acidity and heat are both present, but not overpowering in either of the two I have been using and have proven useful in both cooking and as an accent to a finished dish.

Our dessert was a ramekin of passion fruit mousse that had more of a flan texture than what I would expect. My dining partner enjoyed it more than I did, but the creaminess and the fruit taste were a pleasant finish to the meal.

The overall experience at Samba Cafe was strongly positive both from a food perspective and hospitality. Our meal was relatively simple but flavorful and well worth the trip into the High Falls area. Thanks for reading the first entry in my spring cleaning series of posts and stay tuned to see what else is in the hopper!

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