Beautiful butter chicken rests in a silken sauce. A trio of papadum cakes are rolled into cones and filled with salad, from a simple lentil to the spicy pomegranate I could barely pry from my guest's hands. Then there's fish curry that consists of a thick halibut fillet covered in a pungent, creamy coconut milk sauce that cannot contain its chile-fueled mean streak. According to Pyles, they tested this dish several times, with disappointing results. Finally the chef said, "Vijay, I had much spicier food than this in India."

"Oh," Sadhu replied, "I thought I was preparing it for American palates." Problem solved.

The menu looks small, Pyles admits. With desserts included, however, "there are 40 items—and those aren't simple things to prepare." Indeed, despite the emphasis on small portions, there's no wasted effort here. The most memorable item for me was a side that came with two tiger prawns. Yes, the shellfish were fine—but who really cares when it's surrounded by strings of julienned okra, fried to the near impossible point when crispy and chewy come together but don't cross. The texture, therefore, is intricate (an odd thing to say when describing okra). Seasoned with chaat masala, it develops intense, stratified flavors—feisty ginger, sweet pepper from amchur and a series of earthier spices.

All the action is on view in Samar’s open kitchen, but you’ll likely focus on the plates.
Sara Kerens
All the action is on view in Samar’s open kitchen, but you’ll likely focus on the plates.

Location Info


Samar by Stephan Pyles

2100 Ross Ave., 100
Dallas, TX 75201-2739

Category: Restaurant > International

Region: Downtown & Deep Ellum


Samar Papadum trio $12 Potato and chorizo $12 Endive salad $6 Chicken shish kebab $7 Almond gazpacho $7 Butter chicken $7 Naan with dips $12 Crab fritters $8 Pumpkin kofte $9 Tiger prawn $9 Persian fried chicken $8 Grilled chiles $7 Fish curry $9

So six weeks in, and Samar is already turning out memories.

Samar 2100 Ross Ave., 214-922-9922. Open 5 p.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday (bar open until 2 a.m.). $$$
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