Chef Chat, Part II: Cesar Rodriguez of Samba Grille
EOW: What separates the rodizio dining experience at Samba Grille from some of your competitors?
CR: There are three differences. The first is the quality. We buy good, quality ingredients. We shop all over the United States. For example, we have a 40-day-aged New York strip that is unbelievable...The number two reason would be that we have a la carte. Nobody else has that. And number three would be that we don't have the buffet table.
EOW: Any unique menu items that you may not find at other places?
CR: The ingredients make the difference. We use a lot of South American ingredients like aji peppers from Peru. We use a lot of fresh fruits for the sauces.
EOW: How many different meat options are you serving up?
CR: As of right now, up to 13. It's a lot for customers to choose from.
EOW: Which menu items have stood out as favorites of diners thus far?
CR: The snapper and the New York strip. The Gaucho, a South American-style steak with chimichurri, is our number one dish. And surprisingly, a lot of seafood.
EOW: Any new concoctions in the works?
CR: We are thinking of a few new dishes. For dinner, we are making more combinations of seafood and steaks. We'll be trying to increase a few more seafood items, like halibut.
EOW: I hear you make a mean burger. Can you confirm these rumors?
CR: That's true (laughs). We have a lot of meat. It's easy to combine sirloin, tenderloin, and grind it. That's what we use. We finish it with some of the aji pepper. That combination is delicious. The bread we use is fresh delivered every morning.
EOW: Would you answer five, non-food related questions for me?
EOW: Where's your favorite vacation spot?
EOW: What television show is can't miss for you?
CR: Right now, it's Spartacus. That show is awesome.
EOW: Someone gives you concert tickets, who are you going to see perform?
CR: I like Latin American singers. Luis Miguel is fun. I would like to see Shakira too. Wow, she's amazing.
EOW: What sports team do you follow?
CR: I love baseball. I love the Astros, and I love the Yankees too.
EOW: I lied just a little bit. I do have one more food question to ask you. Would you mind making me one of those burgers?
Check back tomorrow as I sample the burger, along with some other dishes, prepared by Chef Cesar Rodriguez.