Bebop Pabulum

Sambuca has all the requirements of a jazz club

Chicken breast piccata was better but still not up to snuff for a spot leaning heavily into Mediterranean territory. Thin breast planks from free-range chicken are coated and pan-seared. The breasts, with golden edges, are served with caper butter sauce and a fat dab of moist garlic mashed potatoes. But the chicken, dry and perhaps a little tough, had little evidence of lemon--a key ingredient in piccata--which made the flavors lie flat.

But lemon or little else could have saved the New York strip steak in a mushroom port wine sauce. Two thick pieces of meat leaned onto one another, creating a plate that looked neither elegant nor lasciviously satiating. Ordered medium rare, the steak was the color of gunmetal once it was cut into and yielded no juices. It looked neglected instead of just undercooked. So it was sent back, and the second time, the meat sported two anti-gastronomic hues: cooked gunmetal (with grayish undertones) and uncooked gunmetal (with rosy undertones), depending on the section that was cut into. Unfortunately, it didn't taste any better than it looked. The meat was dry and gristly. Accompanying the steak was an assortment of vegetables (cherry tomatoes, green beans and baby carrots that were like little split sticks) and a puff of harissa mashed potatoes. (Harissa is a smoldering Tunisian sauce made of chilies, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway, garlic and olive oil.) Curiously, the potatoes were dry and stiff when served with the first steak, and moist and fluffy when they returned with the two-toned steak.

As for the rest of the menu, might I suggest using sambuca as an ingredient in everything. It worked for the jazz and the pound cake. Maybe it'll work wonders for salmon and the penne pasta, not to mention the thematic consistency it represents. Just leave the snails alone.

Have a sambuca. Listen to the pretty music. Skip the New York strip.
Stephen P. Karlisch
Have a sambuca. Listen to the pretty music. Skip the New York strip.

Location Info


Sambuca Uptown

2120 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201

Category: Music Venues

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn


(214) 744-0820. Open 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. $$-$$$

Salmon carpaccio: $9
Escargot: $10
Chicken piccata: $19
New York strip: $29
Penne Pompeii: $17
Smoked salmon fettuccini: $17
Sambuca cake: $5.95

2120 McKinney Ave.

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