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