Samar by Stephan Pyles

Photo taken from Stephan Pyles Facebook profile

When I moved to Dallas in the eighties, Stephan Pyles was the most famous and talked-about chef; everybody was rushing to his new restaurant Routh Street Café, where the buzz was that “a new cuisine was being invented“.

At Routh Street Café,  one could  taste tamales with venison meat, or Texas black buck antelope with pasilla-tamarind sauce and blue corn muffins. Dallasites were gushing  ” … Stephan Pyles has invented a new cuisine and it is from our region, it is called Southwestern!”

Never before had a West Texas country boy raised in a family of truck stop restaurateurs, managed to embrace the  rustic culinary traditions of the peoples who populated the area: Spanish, Mexicans, Native American Indians’s foods and customs were embraced and turned  into  an innovative and stylish cuisine that could rival any of the world’s greatest cuisines.  Stephen Pyles had spearheaded a culinary and cultural revolution. Dallas now was exporting food trends!

In Stephan Pyles’ long career,  he opened 15 restaurants, authored 5 cookbooks, created an Emmy-winning TV series, been named Best Chef in the Southwest by the highest food authorities and his restaurants amongst the 25 best in America; he also devoted tremendous effort in humanitarian missions focused on relieving childhood hunger in America.

So when I heard that at Samar, Stephan Pyles latest restaurant in Dallas, the menu had Lebanese influence, my ears perked up.

I had to find out for myself what kind of Lebanese food this “absolute genius in the kitchen” (New York Times) had decided to showcase and in what form.

Samar is a casual but stylish eatery in the heart of the Arts District. The menu is divided into three main influences, Spanish, Eastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Greece, Turkey) and Indian, serving  tapas-style plates of such diverse foods as tri-colored duck couscous, South Indian coconut fish curry, sous-vide pork tenderloin, spiced pumpkin kibbeh, and numerous other imaginative and delicious dishes. There is a bread bar with a tandoori master at the helm, churning out fresh naans and pitas.

Most plates are priced at under US$10.00.

We ordered several plates, ate to our fill, had Turkish coffee or wonderful herbal teas, even desserts (chocolate samosas with rose petal sauce, for example). The bill was moderate ($40 to $60 for two people). The menu offers a selection of wines and cocktails; if you wish to smoke, you can order a hookah flavored with rose or apple or guava tobaccos.

My verdict on the Lebanese-influenced dishes? LOVED it! The fatoush salad was dressed with a tahini sauce (like our tarator) and came with the prettiest watermelon radishes. The falafel sandwich was served on a freshly-baked pita-like bread with a bit of tabbouleh salad sprinkled on top and some feta cheese. My absolute favorite was the duck with tri-colored couscous, meltingly tender and juicy. The Spanish grilled meat with blue cheese foam too, now that I think of it!

I  plan to lunch or dine at Samar on a regular basis. The staff is very friendly, the atmosphere is laid-back, the decor is modern with just the right touches of exotica, its location in the Arts district make it within a walking distance of  a number of museums.

If you are ever in Dallas, I would highly recommend Samar.

Samar by Stephan Pyles
2100 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX. 75201
(214) 922-9922

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  1. Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Marvelous..thanks for sharing. I’d like to ask something about Koosa if you don’t mind.
    Sito always made ‘koosa bil saneeyee’ with the squash whole, but all the recipes I see are with the squash cut lengthwise. What is traditional in Lebanon?

  2. Joumana
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    @Mark: Can you give me more details? What is a typical Lebanese meal is koosa mehchi, with the small squash cored and stuffed and served in a pot with a tomato-garlicky sauce or a yogurt sauce. Koosa is also stuffed and served alongside stuffed vine or swiss chard leaves. In fact, most supermarkets in Beirut sell squash already cored in small plastic containers to help Lebanee housewives with the work of coring.

  3. Posted January 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    magnifiques recettes
    bon week-end

  4. Posted January 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know I’ll be in texas any time soon… but wow… looks like such a great place with beautiful, affordable food. Your photos do it proud~!

  5. Posted January 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, that was what I was referring to. The traditional method that Sito passed on to me is as you described it and I’ll stick to that. :-)
    By the way my next blog will be traditional Lebanese khobaz. Am even thinking of doing a series to include things like talamee.

  6. Posted January 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Chocolate samosas with rose petal sauce? Count me in forever! I’ve recently discovered that I do, in fact, like the taste of rosewater, so I want that dessert very badly! :P

  7. Posted January 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I think you just made Dallas a destination for me. These do look enticing and I trust your review over the American ones.

  8. Posted January 23, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    This looks like a fabulous place to eat. How interesting does that blue cheese foam sound? Yum.

  9. Posted January 23, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Oh my! Everything looks so delicious, I would have a tough time deciding what to try first. Thanks for the great review!

  10. Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes Joumana!

  11. Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    It looks like a wonderful restaurant and I know there will be hoards of people converging on Dallas in just a couple of weeks for the Superbowl (those who can afford the tickets, at least)! I think the duck would be my favorite dish there also.

  12. Nadege
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Could he open a place in Los Angeles? It all looks delicious.

  13. Posted January 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    How lucky you are to have such a great restaurant in your town and the prices are much cheaper compared to Greece.

  14. Posted January 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    if you say this is good I trust you 100% !!!

  15. Posted January 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    everytime I see a photo of tabbouleh my mouth waters and I start mentally checking the ingredients I have on hand. Good thing I’m about to go grocery shopping, tabbouleh is on tonights dinner menu now :)

  16. Joumana
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    @Susan: One friend is renting his house to such people for the Superbowl for $5K a night!

  17. Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I had read up on this before I went to big D last time and I wanted to go, but there was no time. Maybe we can go there the next time I come to town!

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