Short Orders: Sambuca 360

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Sambuca 360
7200 Bishop, Plano

The revamped glow of Sambuca's new Legacy space doesn't have the original's brick walls, screaming urban authenticity. It lacks the Addison location's dated, desperate atmosphere. The menu is less ambitious than their Uptown setting. And just maybe it all works to 360's benefit.

Then again, maybe it's nostalgia that fills the place--all those 40-somethings who've moved to Plano, divorced, paid for a little enhancement, and reverted back to prowling ways remembering the old Deep Ellum nightlife.

Whatever it is, a line forms by around 8:30 on weekend evenings.

Or so doorman Todd Wright tells me. Being one of those boring 'I hate crowds' sorts, I bailed just as the ubiquitous cougars, equally ubiquitous but less mocked men who hoped to be cornered by cougars, and seemingly out of place committed couples (maybe they were swingers on the hunt, which given Plano's reputation...) crowded into the space, already building toward two-deep at the bar around 8 p.m. A band comes on at some point, and there are rumors of 80s tunes--more reasons to skip out early.

Food service, not surprisingly, is of Sambuca quality. In other words, service is pleasant, but often confused; the dishes themselves rise to a certain level, but no further. Four times food runners stopped by my table to ask if a particular entree happened to be mine. Poblano shrimp and corn chowder, which I did order, should ride on the rich sweetness of fresh corn. In this case, however, it resembles a thin, spicy queso, in that it is creamy, rusty and dominated by chili heat.

Not necessarily bad, just not very subtle.

Fish and chips, on the other hand, is delicate to a fault, gentle halibut breaking through a crust so light it might pass for tempura, without the malty undertone. In combination, clean fish and an airy coating flatlines, begging for some vinegar or tartar sauce.

But again, it's nothing off-putting. Most places serving fish and chips allow too much oil to sog the crust or fail to change out vats. This is a nice, firm on the inside, crunchy on the outside canvas for added seasoning.

Besides, Sambuca's selling point has nothing to do with their kitchen. Sometime before 10 p.m. they scoop up tables facing the stage, creating a dance floor. The band kicks in, bodies shake (although breasts remain still, for some reason), two bars turn out cocktails--the place is a scene, not a restaurant.

Even outside, where as I was leaving people posed for snapshots with Calvin, the 9-foot tall fixture from Deep Ellum days.

"He could crush my skull with one hand," some girl said after getting her picture. "He's a really nice guy," the puny 6'4" doorman called after her. By then, another group huddled in front of the gentle giant, smiling for a camera.

Strange what some people consider keepsake material.

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