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Oct 13, 2009 09:55 AM

Samar by Stephan Pyles - Dallas

We went last night to try to get in before the weekend crowd. The food was extraordinarily good. As advertised, they serve small plates of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Indian food. The plates are lovely and delicious, but are indeed small. I would recommend that if you are going to share, that each order be shared by 2 people. That seems to be how they are set up. For instance, the fried squash blossoms stuffed with house made haloumi cheese (my favorite taste of the night) came 2 to an order. The plates are generally in the $7-10 range, with a couple pricier ones. We also had peekytoe crab fritters, a white bean and clam stew with chorizo foam, a chicken sausage kabob with apricots, cumin and saffron infused cauliflower, and haleem (which was ground lamb porridge with lamb kebab on top). Other than the Naan, I don’t think that I ate anything last night that I had ever had before. It was all amazing. The service, as expected, was excellent. We were greeted warmly and the manager stopped by to talk with us and thank us for coming. It was all very smooth and not overbearing. Chef Pyles was in the kitchen, but we saw him walk around some. The room is nice. Except for a beautiful, underlit onyx bar, it’s not over the top. In fact, the tables and chairs felt fairly ordinary. I wonder if the permanent furniture hasn’t come in yet. We had six plates, an order of naan and 4 glasses of wine. The bill was $88. Fun night. I can’t wait to go back.

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  1. Thanks for the review.

    Was it crowded and are reservations recommended?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Scagnetti

      They have one of those quirky no reservation policies except for large parties. On Monday night, the room was comfortably full, but there was no wait. But, it just opened on Thursday. I bet that pretty soon, the weekends will be a scene. And since this is TX/OU weekend, that will probably start right away.

      1. re: Scagnetti

        You probably might know by now, no reservations taken in normal situations. Valentines Day weekend they are taking reservations for a special prix fixe for 50 dollars, 75 with wine parings. Reservations at 214.922.9922. Nice deal for what can be an insanely expensive night. The hours are sat and sun 5 to 11. Reservations must be made to get the deal.

        Hope that helps, Mr Scagnetti. ;)

        I missed Tom Jones and am thoroughly peeved.

      2. I think those tables are Zebra Wood, which are NOT cheap.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JasonB

          I don't think Stephan Pyles does anything, "cheaply".

          1. re: twinwillow

            It was a truly incredible experinece and one I will soon repeat. I was amazed that we could have a wonderful meal at even more wonderful prices.

            And no, Stephan Pyles is a class act, and his decor is a work of art.

            1. re: DallasDude

              Totally incredible is right. SAMAR is the best Indian restaurant, the best Spanish restaurant and the best Middle Eastern restaurant all in one place. This is what Chowhound is all about!

              1. re: OCNC

                I love this place too! Aside from the awesome vasos and really cool custom tables, one of my favorite things is sitting on the patio and breathing in the hookah smoke. That's how good this place is: Even the exhalations from other hookah smokers are incredible. And it doesn't cost you anything! ha haha

                1. re: OCNC

                  It's absolutely not the best Middle Eastern restaurant around. The Indian and Spanish dishes far outshine the Middle Eastern.

          2. The tables were custom made by a local furinture maker

            1 Reply
            1. re: kush

              glad to see that hounders are as passionate abt their furniture as they are about their food.

            2. Overall I was disappointed given how much I love his other place. The Indian dishes were the only thing I enjoyed. FYI Stay away from the pistachio ice cream. It tasted like drywall spackle.

              My friend had her brand new car (still has the temp tags) dented by the valet. She has been getting the run around from the GM who is not returning calls or e-mails. I expected better from Stephen Pyles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cornualonga

                The valet is outsourced, but I am sure you will get satisfaction on that. I had an issue with the Hyatt who uses Ace parking, and these people were insanely wonderful. Both the Hyatt and Ace. These parking companies do not want to lose a valuable client.

                As far as the food at Pyles, I consider it freshly amazing. I am also looking for a menu update at some point which will make me giddier than ever. I will be there tomorrow night.

              2. Terrible service and mediocre food is how I would summarize our 2 visits on Sat. night. The Mrs and I, and another couple friends of ours went to Samar prior to a play at the Windspear as we figured walking would be good. Firstly, our waitress was young, not well trained, and very pushy. We felt rushed the entire time. Ordered a bottle of Malbec and it was not the year printed on the menu and nothing was said otherwise. Worse than that, it was hot. I'm a wino/type guy and I had to put an ice cube in it. (man that pisses me off).

                Now to the food... Fattoush...I've never had Fattoush in a "Green Goddess" type of dressing. It had no flavor. Butter Chicken....way too much butter and not enought spice... Veal Tangine.....meh.... just not intersting. Potatoes, choriso and egg was the bust of the bunch. Peekytoe crab fritters tasted like a hushpuppy (could not tast the crab.)

                So after the play was over, we strolled back for a nightcap due to the time (11:30) and they are open till 2:00.. We belly up to the bar and order 4 cocktails.... It took 15 min. to get a drink with Blackberry Vodka and soda..... and there were only a few folks sitting at the bar. I understand the concepts and what he's angling for with Samar, but for my $, if I want Indian....I'm going to an Indian Joint. Same with Middle Eastern and Spanish... I don't know if it is just me, but have had sereral less than memorable experiences at Stephen Pyles also... He's got to do a better job with training his staff....

                3 Replies
                1. re: J.R.

                  What a terrible experience. There's no excuse for that type of shabby treatment.

                  1. re: J.R.

                    while I've had only good experiences at Samar, I do agree that their crab-containing dishes are a bit lacking in crab flavor, which is disappointing. And while I think that the butter chicken tastes good, I find it pretty unimpressive. I like the tagine though - great spices, crunchy marcona almonds and a shred of preserved lemon zest on top of light fluffy couscous.

                    Did you mean that the potato dish was the "bust" (as you wrote) or the "best"? Because that is one of my favorite dishes on the menu - especially now that they've tripled the size of the foie gras that accompanies. The last three times I've had it, it's been perfect.

                    I'd also observe that you could have asked them to chill your bottle of wine rather than adding an ice cube, and you could have returned it if not the right year... although I agree that they should have been on top of that.

                    1. re: gavlist

                      I meant best as far as the potatoes and chorizo. I was indeed tasty. As far as the wine is concerned, I usually would have them stick it in an ice bucket for 10min., but there was no way this waitress would have understood "why in the world does he want me to stick red wine in an ice bucket...." Doesn't he know that red wines are suppossed to be served at room temp and only white wines chilled. I just didn't have the patience for that exercise with her, hence the cube.