A VERY Bad Dancer.
There's a tendency to take certain liberties with unfamiliar cuisines - on the theory that on one will know better - and I think that's what's happened at Samba Room. We went there Friday night, July 11th, 2008 with modest expectations. I love Cuban food but this was Denver, after all, a place even less likely than my home, Seattle, to offer anything more authentic than a passable attempt at such a niche cuisine. I've eaten a fair amount of Cuban stuff in the past and, as a chef, have made quite a bit. This stuff was nowhere on either spectrum. I ordered crispy chicken. The only thing "crisp" about it was the conversation around it. The whole thing was soggy, listless and vastly under-seasoned. The "Gringo" rice side that came with it was some jumbled, undistinguished mess of stuff that seemed stalled out between Cajun dirty rice and Spanish rice. The chicken sauce, described as a "lemon-caper garlic sauce", was wimpy and passionless and was almost overpowered by the aromas coming off the rice.
My companions had a an Argentinian(?)-style skirt steak (Isn't this a ...Cuban restaurant?) with a Chimichurri sauce that tasted, basically, just like my lemon-caper garlic sauce. I suspect that, to save time, they actually ARE the same sauce, hold the capers for the Chimichurri - which is not even close to the truth for the two sauces. One of us also had the Pork Barbacoa which, to my palate, was tarted up beyond reason, with the basic cumin/ancho spices augmented with something herbal and a couple of other rather gratuitous spices that just muddied up the flavor.
Any restaurant, of course, can take whatever liberties with their recipes and Lord Knows I've played fast 'n' loose with almost every recipe ever put in front of me BUT this meal didn't seem like the product of a guiding influence concerned with expanding and illuminating the experience of Cuban food. It seemed like what I used to do when I was twenty-three and just working as a full-fledged chef for the first time: being Different for the sake of being Different. And the result was a distinctly half-baked effort.
This restaurant, I suspect, is like most of the other restaurants under the E-Brands umbrella: as much concerned with the sizzle as the steak...or in this case, with the wrapper as much as the fine Cuban cigar. The food tasted and felt mailed in; a half-effort merely intended to support a trendy young atmosphere and get by, rather than actually trying to put a great meal on the plate. And, you have to give them credit: the place was packed with exactly the sort of twenty-something, dressed-to-kill, upwardly-mobile young see-and-be-seens they've obviously built it for. So, maybe I just chalk it up to "my bad" for even setting foot inside a place that set off my BS detector. But, being the fan I am of Cuban food, I tried it. Lost. Expressed my disappointment to the server and maitre'd. Was offered NO compensation other than, "Well, our other guests LOVE those dishes!" That, in a nutshell, is the problem with places like Samba Room: when criticized, they argue..instead of doing what a truly great restaurant would do - try to make every guest leave happy.
That's what you should expect when you're touring Denver and happen upon the Samba Room. If you're about food, DON'T. If you're young and pretty and just want to find atmosphere and other Young Pretties, dive right in.
What a perfect date!. My husband and I finally got into this place for dinner and loved it! We sat upstairs in the dining room and loved the dÃ©cor and atmosphere. It felt quaint and romantic up there and we were immediately greeted by our server. We started with a sampler style appetizer and LOVED the teriyaki salmon. The timinig of all courses was perfect and our entrees were delicious. The service was great too and better than what we had received during crowded bar evenings there. I highly reccommend this place for dinner. It's a bit pricey but worth it for a special occasion. We would return!
Best food ever!. I love this resturant, everyting about it was great. I have come for a romantic dinner date, and I have had a large dinner party. Both situations the food was great, the service was great, and the drinks are great. Best mojitos in town!
Great drinks, great location and the food is fantastic. Try the Mojitos, you won't be disappointed! If you like something a little different, samba room is for you. I love cuban food and although this is more of a south american restaurant it is wonderful! Service was terrific and the location right off 15th near Larimer is easy to get to and close to Denver Center for Performing Arts, Larimer or a short walk to Lo Do!
Great sangria, romantic atmosphere, tasty and unique food. We went to the Samba Room for dinner during Denver Restaurant Week (the $52.80 for two special). It was outstanding. We didn't have a reservation, but we came in at a slow time and were seated right away at the table of our choice (the second level is great for romantic dinners - the decor is outstanding and it's quiet). The waitress was really great and friendly, helpful with explaining the menu and helping us choose. Everything we tried was outstanding. Especially recommend the pumpkin soup. The salmon was great and so was the chicken. The plantains were something unusual but very tasty. Their sangria is great, and the desserts are also excellent. Really can only find positive things to say about this restaurant. Also loved the atmosphere and the decor - it was wonderful to sit at the table by candlelight and listen to cuban music playing in the background.
Check out the happy hour...... MOJITOS!. Got off of work downtown on Monday and my friend and I went to Samba Room. Little did we know but they have the best happy hour in town, 7 days a week from 4-7!! 1/2 priced mojitos, sangria, margs and more. For sure get some of the $2 tapas (empanadas, yum...)or try the tapas sampler with alittle of everything. Great bar!
Excellent Food and MOJITOS!. My boyfriend and I went to the Samba Room on a Thursday night for some dinner as we had never been there before. We were greeted by a friendly young lady at the front door and decided to have a drink in the bar since it was happy hour (still at 6:30, love that). We each had a mojito and they were fab!!!! We moved into the restaurant and had a wonderful server who helped us choose our appetizer and dinner. We choose the empanadas, he told us they were homemade and they were definitely fabulous, loved the sauce that came with them. For dinner I had the skirt steak, soooo good and the flavors were wonderful and strong, love the seasoning on the fries. My boyfriend had the paella and absolutely loved it. We travel to Florida often and found out they have a restaurant down there as well, definitely going to check it out. No desert for us, just more mojitos!!! Thanks to the Executive Chef for all his wonderful creations!!!
Overpriced, unexciting food.. First off when the waiter trys to talk me out of a dish I wish he talked me out of the restraunt. $150 for what??? Bad food. The food was bland. The timing was bad. The atmosphere was pleasant. But for the money you would be alot better off going to a different place to eat. If you like overpriced food please, go to the Samba Room. It would be a good place to go to for drinks before going out to eat at a different Restaurant.
Great place for a date!. I had a first date this past Friday and I really wanted to impress! I have been to the Samba Room many times before; their happy hour and mojitos are great! I just never tried their food, and I figured this would be a great time to give it a try; my only regret is that I didn?t try it sooner! Upon arrival a very courteous concierge (who to my surprise, greeted me by my last name) and said that our table was ready for us. The table was upstairs, away from the busy bar scene, in a quieter section of the restaurant that over looked the rest of the dinning room. Our server was very professional but personable as well, making my date and I feel very comfortable. I hadn?t eaten there before so our server walked us through the variety of exotic dishes on the menu. I chose the servers recommendation, the skirt steak and my date went with the chef?s feature, a plantain crusted mahi mahi. He also recommended a pino noir to go with the two dishes. We snacked on the ceviche of the day while our dinner was prepared. Let me just say: The food and service was outstanding! The flavors, the portions, the wine and the atmosphere, all combined for a terrific night. I would highly recommend the Samba Room to any who want to make an impression, business or pleasure. Fine dinning service with a great price!
Great service, delicious food, and excellent cocktails. We recently had the great experience of dining at Samba Room. The new wine list was spectacular and we especially enjoyed the wine flights that they offer on the new list. It lets you try three different wines. We had the skirt steak and the sea bass for dinner. The steak was cooked perfectly and the french fries that come with it have this great seasoning. The sea bass was light but very tasty, it came with a tasty shrimp orzo. The services was by far the best service we have experienced in and around Denver for awhile. Our server was prompt and extremely helpful. He knew the menu very well and was quick to point out specialties. Our food was brought out hot and timely. We had mojitos after dinner, the cocout one was by far the best cocktail that I have tasted very minty and smooth I could see getting really drunk sucking those down. We had creme brulee for dessert it was yummy and coconutty as well. All in all I would strongly reccomend this restraunt to anyone looking for a nice evening out. Service is exemplary and the prices were very reasonable for Larimer Square.
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