A Brazilian friend of ours was holding a party to welcome some of his friends arriving in Vancouver from Europe. The party would be held at the Samba restaurant.
I knew immediately that it would be a vegetarian's worst nightmare and a carnivore's delight. Luckily for me I'm not a vegetarian, and it would be the perfect excuse to finally check out what it would be like to have Brazilian-style BBQ meat carved over my shoulder and onto my plate.
What I didn't expect was that this restaurant would be like Las Vegas. As we arrived, there were three bikini-clad dancers with peacock-array feathered headdresses dancing to a live Brazilian band. Samba, literally.
We passed by the dancers and got seated. It soon became apparent that people come to Samba to be entertained.
I noticed right away how loud everything was. This was not a quiet relaxing restaurant, but one where you had to yell at the person next to you in order to be heard.
Ever so often the dancers would go into the back room and more would return in flashy sequinned Christmas outfits and santa hats. After a few songs they would run between the tables and dance with the customers. Yes, even I was dragged by my hand to join the restaurant-wide conga line of restaurant customers and Brazilian dancers. Fun times, indeed!
Unfortunately for me, I was so tired from being at school and at work, by 8pm I wasn't really in the mood to be in such a noisy, lively, festive environment. Samba is great for restaurant entertainment, that's for sure, and I would recommend it for large families or large parties that want some live entertainment with their dinners. I'd also recommend Samba if you want to try something new. However, I would not recommend Samba for a quiet or romantic restaurant, nor would I recommend it for someone looking for outstanding food.
Favorite Dish: The menu has a few choices, but it's obvious the focal point is the "All-You-Can-Eat Rodizio Experience, Gaucho Style".
For $23 a person, you can eat as much from the salad bar as you want while you wait for the BBQ meat to arrive at your table.
Samba has set rules when you order "all you can eat". They're logical, but one rule mentions that you can't exceed dining for 2 hours. Another rule states that you can't share your food, nor can you
There are several waiters dressed up in red and white holding a large sword-like "churrascaria" skewers of BBQ meats, walking up to each table to anyone presenting a green card. Green cards signify the customer wants to be served more meat. Red cards mean stop. Within the 2 hours I ate there, I had a taste of BBQ sausage, a BBQ chicken leg, 3 BBQ prawns with their shells on, one large BBQ beef rib, and 2 small slices of BBQ prime rib. I said no to the buffalo, pork and the lamb because I was too full. Each slice of meat could be eaten in 3 bites.
Like any entertainment buffet, food is good, but not outstanding. The meat was rather plain for my liking. I didn't taste any spices or marinade. The chicken was really good, but the beef was really gamey for my tastes. If you didn't get the beef as soon as it was taken out of the BBQ, you were often left with the really rare pieces.
The salad bar had a large variety - potato salad, pickles, olives, spicey beef noodle salad, fresh guacamole, steamed broccoli, spinach salad, rice, black beans, deep fried bananas, and many more.
To drink I had a non-alcoholic cocktail of coconut milk and lychee juice, and noticed that they offer the same cocktail with vodka. Later on I tried their mojitos, although I should have tried their Caipirinhas which are a Brazilian treat.
All in all, while Samba's entertainment is fun and the buffet-style is decent, it's more or less a gimmick. It's fun once in a while, but definitely a place you can really only enjoy until the novelty wears off.
Favorite Dish: You must try the Camarão na Cachaça from the dinner menu. It is prawns sauteed in cachaça ( A Brazilian sugar cane spirit that is reminiscent of rum and tequila). Don't forget to wash it down with a Caipirinha or two!
Submitted Monday, May 9, 2011 - 10:19am [Dine in]
To call this place Brazilian is a shame. We were there last night with 9 people. I have been to this place many times but never for a weekend dinner. Once everyone sits down they wait for you to go to the buffet to grab food. The buffet in many people few is not very good to be honest. Then once they see that you have eaten all your buffet they come by with the meat. So 30 minutes after they come with the meat and start to serve it. For the first hour they brought us sausage 3 times chicken twice and pork once. After sitting there for an hour and a half I stated when are they going to bring the beef? They showed up with beef (beef ribs) then once again with sausages then they brough sirlion then they once again brough sausage. In 2 hours they brough sausages 7 times, chicken 3 times, pork 3 times and beef only 3 times. They only cut a small piece of beef and usually there is not enough to give everyone a piece on the table they say they wil be back and they never come back. I understand a restaurant needs to maximize there profit but its so obvious what they were doing. They want you to get full on the sausages and the buffet(awful) and barely bring the beef. Regardless we didnt say too much until the bill came. On the bill it says price $34.95 buffet pop $3.50 total was $38.95 then add the HST and there suggested tip of 15% then the final price was $50.20 so basically $12 above the price with HST and tip. Most people ignored the suggested tip and left what they wanted as it was not stated in the menu or anywhere they would add 15% for tip. As we were leaving the waiter came and got us and said we are $20 short on our bill so with suggested tip it came to around $450 but we left $430. I said it says suggested tip and most people left what they though was deserved. Then the manager came and said why dont you want to pay the tip I said we paid what we thought was deserved so basically around 12%. Many of us cant stand mandatory tipping expecially when it wasnt stated. If the service and food was good alright. What a mess over $20 but at the end I paid it and said you will not only ever see me again but I ll make sure everyone i know wont go. But the service was ok and the food was less than good. Dont get fooled by all you can eat at the end it is not a good value. My suggest is stay away from this place and they should not shame the Brazilian by calling this place Brazilian. This is one step above all you can eat buffet at Uncle Willies.
Favorite Dish: The beef is ok when hey bring it to you
I had never even seen a Brazilian restaurant before. They feature an all you can eat dinner called Rodizio, which we ordered per the waiter's recommendation. We also each tried a Brazilian cocktail. My husband's featured a Brazilian liquor called cachaca, which is kind of like a cross between rum and tequila: strong like tequila but a little smoother. The salad bar not only had salad, but also vegetables, seafood dishes, stew and beans. Then, as we sat and ate our salad, servers would bring the Rodizio -- large skewers of different kinds of marinaded and rotisseried meat and sliced off pieces off for us. We had sausage, chicken, beef ribs, lamb, flank steak, veal, cornish hen and top sirloin. They claimed to have 14 different types of meat in all. We didn't make it through all fourteen, although they were absolutely delicious. We recommend it and would eat there again.
Favorite Dish: My favorite was the salad bar. My husband's was the meat.