Fabulous staff, amazing cocktails - not for the pretentious.
Sambar is a little gem that we have been frequenting for over 3 years - every time is more pleasurable than the one before. Jay, Lietta (frite bearing goddess), Esther before her, and the rest of the staff are hands down THE BEST. It was interesting reading the "horrible service" review - we were there that (fateful) evening, and the group being served was LOUD, RUDE, & OBNOXIOUS - yet at no time was the staff any less attentive than if they had been well liked regulars - we all like to think that Sambar is our litle slice of heaven, but this crowd acted like they owned the place - and were cheap on top of it.
If splitting the tip twelve ways is one's idea of a haute cocktail lounge, than this is not the venue for you and your (middle aged wannabe) posse.
Let's not get personal, but Sambar is.
HORRIBLE Service!!!!!. One week later I am still shocked by the service we received by the waitress. We were a large party eating and having drinks for my best friends birthday. An hour later, several people who needed to leave asked for their bills. Instead of kindly telling us that they only took gratuity for large parties, she rudely gave those people their bills and stated ?here are your bills?.this is the ONE and ONLY time I will break up a bill?. Never did anyone notify us of their policy for large parties, nor would it have been a problem paying all together. After my friend stated that she will not be returning due to the rude service, the waitress said "good....don't any of you come back" pointing at our entire party. I will never go back and I will discourage everyone I know to avoid this place.
Small oasis of good food, drinks and abience but get there early!.
I had my first experience of Sambar just a few weeks ago and I must say I want more!
the place is tiny and if you've never been there not very easy to spot, just look for the sign for the sister restaurant called "Le Gourmand". there is a nice outdoors area (where we sat) that is quite nice on a sunny day but pick your time carefully because the inside will sit an absolute maximum of 15 or so people and outside might push all the way to 20 so don't go too late unless you are ok with standing/waiting.
The menu is not extensive but the choices are very well spread across the spectrum of tastes so you should find something to your liking. Being a bar their selections on cocktails is good and I recommend their Mojito knock off made with Asian plant leaf who's name escapes me as I write this.
All that to be honest is mere prelude for THE reason to go there in my humble opinion; the Cheese! their cheese selection hides itself as "cheese plate" on their menu and from what I have gathered they will most of the time bring the three typical "cow, blue, goat" combo. I specifically asked for no blue and not goat not because I don't like those but because I wanted to taste (and test) the depth of their selection and let me tell you we ended up with some amazing cheeses.
As a whole I would highly recommend it but show up early or you may have to wait a very very long time to get a table and whatever you do order the cheese plate but don't be afraid to make some specific requests.
great drinks - appalling service one night.
Well... what to say about the hideous staff treatment one night?
Friends are having a drink as they have many times here... they love the drinks at Sambar. Waiter comes out singing some crappy version of 'I wear my sunglasses' harkening back to the 80's b/c my friend is wearing dark glasses (called 'fitovers') - because she was in an accident and had stitches over and under BOTH eyes. She tries to explain, AND DIDN'T NEED TO, but the waiter just spins on his scuffed heel and exits. Soon, a couple of the staff from the kitchen area walk out, point, and chuckle. Seriously, I would have expected way more than that from a familiar place. Unacceptable. I don't know what it is about some people but that was just completely inhumane treatment. To that waiter: I would have fired you, you selfish smartass.
best reason to go to ballard. please don't go to sambar. it is small, and my friends and i will have no room if you find out just how lovely this hidden gem is. jay is a fantastic bartender. the service is amazing. nothing goes better with cocktails than yummy frites (ask for a side of dijon). i can't say enough great things about this place. it's cute. it's like a hipster's chic basement.
best cocktails. With drinks like the Jacques Tati, the Black Current Margarita, and the Vesper, you can't go wrong. The bar is very quaint, but sometimes too over crowded with loud voices that it takes away some of the charm...but still, I could only wish for such a neighborhood bar!
great drinks, but. . .. the drinks just take too long. as a bartender who also cares about crafting a fabulous cocktail, i can empathize, but geez, a half hour is a little bit of a wait. i'd recommend going when the outdoor patio is closed, because the extra seating is just too much for a solitary bartender. i just can't see going when it's hopping, because the wait becomes more the experience than the drinks. while a high ranking by the city search editors for best bartenders in the city is justified, i don't see how they can be ranked BEST in the city when we have kacy, murray and ben tending bar at the zig zag, unless they've been retired from the category to give others a chance to win.
It used to be good. Sambar has gone down hill. The bartenders and wait staff are still snotty but it used to be the apps and cocktails were good. Not anymore. My friend and I ordered drinks and there was a 30 to 40 minute wait, they apologized each time but the quality of the cocktails was disappointing too. I had to ask twice for things they forgot. Snotty service, bad cocktails. I don't understand why people are crowding the place.
Sambar needs something. Let's all pitch in and get Sambar a clue for Christmas. Having really nice, handmade artistic cocktails and a wonderful outdoor seating area does not mean you can ignore everything else. It's too busy for one server! Hire more, or take out some tables. Don't just keep letting more people crowd in when you can't accommodate them. No one can sit comfortably in those chairs inside, but maybe that's the idea, to get people in and out quickly. That won't work when you take almost an hour to deliver a drink. We sat down at a table at 6:00 p.m. and did not receive our first drink until 6:50 p.m. (the drinks were delivered one at a time, a few minutes apart). It was crowded, but come on! I realize each drink is made from scratch, but get more help at the bar. The server is too busy to do anything but keep her head above water. It's not possible to get a seat outside after you've already been waiting for a drink for 30 minutes because she can't keep track of who's next. That encourages people to cluster at the crowded doorway and swoop in at the first sign of someone leaving, adding to the chaos. Chaos is OK in some settings, but not when you are paying these prices. Get some order, will you? A great thing is being ruined.
This stylish, intimate lounge has folks lining up for elaborate cocktails and unique surroundings..
Next door to Le Gourmand, Sambar forsakes the rusticity of its parent in favor of a suave space-age den. White and light-gray walls paired with soft lighting bathe the uncluttered room in cool luminescence. Elegant, modern furniture may be the most striking feature, but refinements like letter-pressed menus and individual cloth towels in the bathroom lend touches of class.
As charming as the atmosphere is, it's the cocktails that draw repeat visitors. Mixology buffs who've endured too many poorly mixed Manhattans or blank stares upon ordering a French 75 have reason to rejoice. It's not just the classics that are rendered exquisitely: Imaginative originals like the Barbapapa (Hanger One Lime Vodka, Cointreau and lime juice with rhubarb sorbet) should be sampled. A small appetizer menu ranges from dainty salads to more robust croque monsieur or frites, but all are perfect for sharing. The cheese selection is highly recommended.
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