By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Breakfast progresses with Mexican scrambled eggs: fried tortilla strips pebbled with feta and goat cheese crumbles and buds of scrambled egg. Despite the paucity of egg, the hash was, with its spread of tomatillo sauce, deliciously brisk and fresh. And if the worst you can say about a dish is that there wasn't enough of the headliner, well...
Camped out in the former Salve! Ristorante space, with its angular jaunts and a geometrical outdoor courtyard in the center that's softened with gauze and sticks and sofas, Sambuca Uptown is tipped with a handsome patio right where Pearl Street meets McKinney Avenue. It's a heavy-duty apparatus with thick timbers bolted to concrete piers secured with massive nuts--a play off of feminine delicacies inside.
Yet the contrasts on the plate are more interesting. Surf 'n' turf is not limited to the raw and sheer; it erupts as the cooked and the bulky as well. Like all good fillets, this one is petite but tall. Two creamy pieces of bulbous crab claw, stained with swirls of bright red, are draped atop the summit. The first taste of the crab had us by the collar. So potent was its crash of sea-washed sweetness that we questioned whether we had really been eating crab in Dallas all these years. What about the meat? Moistened with a deft béarnaise sauce, rife with tarragon, the meat is smoothly silky and juicy, bleeding that heady richness that makes beef cravings the rutting dance of the Dallas diet. Five thick asparagus stalks posed on the plate, putting a sober vegetable spin on all of this fleshy decadence.
Miso sea bass was a scorched fillet: loose, buttery, even flaccid in parts. Flakes slipped from one another as if they had been greased. The crust was crisp in that delicate way that betrays the violence that forged it into existence. The long fillet slumbered on a bed of rice, separate and fluffy. But whatever the flaws, and they were measly, they were blunted into extinction by a superb hash of bok choy and tart apples, which mingled with the meat, feeding it spark.
Raspberry sabayon, fresh pert berries in a wisp of custard, is served in a slanted bowl that tilts toward the diner: a subtle angle that leans the gentle heap of berries hugging one side into the creamy custard sheet.
Is this Sambuca finally the cream? Deep Ellum Sambuca, which this Uptown location replaced, was a shabby place, in terms of its chic and its grub as well as its in-your-face stage presence. This new version is more contemplative with tolerably amusing décor, well-executed live music that leaves sonic vents for conversation and food that's better than both. What better way to pass through your own grim cycle of suffering?
2120 McKinney Ave., 214-744-0820. Open for brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; for lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; for dinner 5-11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday and 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday & Saturday. $$$