Samba Brazilian Grill
In a word: MEAT! for those who like MEAT!
The specs: #0582
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at QSC, Dane101, Madison Dining Online, City Search, Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Eat Drink Madison, The Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy, The Forked Tongue, Central Madison Living, Isthmus mentions: 1/4/08, 4/9/08, 4/22/08, 11/14/08; TDPF; official web site,
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Amanda, JM and Nichole ate the brunch buffet.
Nichole also had a Bloody Mary.
The bill was $53, or $18ish/person, plus tip.
Amanda and JM gave Samba Brazilian Grill an A-; Nichole gave Samba Brazilian Grill a B+ (see our grading rubric).
Samba has served brunch and dinner in an opulent setting for a while now; as Madison's only Brazilian steakhouse it generated quite a buzz when it opened in the historic Women's Building on Gilman. Rather than reiterate the ordering and eating concept behind Samba, we'll refer the uninitiated to the able, resting blog of Jahboh and Tossy for a rundown.
Back? OK. Brunch started with a spicy Bloody Mary.
Our personable server invited us to begin at the salad bar straight away.
The salad bar is incredible. There's enough variety and breadth to make a meal. The only failing we sweet-tooths noted is the relatively small number of sugary items for brunch, which was pretty much limited to small danishes and banana bread. We grazed on nuts, including fancy Marcona almonds and Brazil nuts that were either smoked or tossed in bacon fat, a cheese plate, cold sweet potato salad, anise-spiked pickled beets, tart Cippolini onions, steamed green beans, granola and yogurt, tapenade and tiny toasts, cut fruit, fresh tossed salad and fixings, cool crisp chimichurri, plus eggs, bacon and potatoes from three huge chafing dishes, and more stuff we can't remember. Nichole made a face with her food (before the Bloody - she was born this way) and weeks later still finds herself wishing she'd wrapped more of those figs in that bacon.
Then there were waffles made to order. Almost as big as a plate, served with choice of chocolate, fruit or plain, they were light and soft. According to our server, the chocolate chips were Ambrosia (no relation to Gail) out of Milwaukee, and the mix of macerated strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries obviated the need for syrup.
And grilled pineapple crusted in cinnamon and brown sugar. The pineapple paired incredibly well with the pork options, which were 2/3 of the day's selection. The linguica sausage was the star - snappy skin, spicy stuffing, and a sweet glaze were very good. The ham slices were dry and Dubuque standard. The third meat was a very juicy flank steak. While you'd hope the meat would be the very best in town, it probably isn't. However, when you want a decadent amount of decent meat, then there's only one place to turn.
A parting word to the wise, from Amanda: Don't taunt a server who has a sword.