Sunday, July 22, 2012

Samsara restaurant review - Valparaiso

Brace yourselves for a collection of restaurant reviews, 'cause I'm in the mood to post about food today. And several of the places that L and I have been over the past several months deserve a mention, in hopes that I can save a few weary spice-deprived travelers some valuable time and grief by throwing in my two cents about where to stuff your face in Chile and Argentina.

Which brings me to my next post: Samsara, a Thai place nestled in the winding streets of the hill of Cerro Alegre in Valparaiso. Sure, it sounds expensive. It is. But is it worth it? Oh, yes.

Tip #1: Make a reservation at least a day in advance. If you forgot, make one in the afternoon as early as possible. The venue is very small, and if you don't have much time in Valparaiso, you may miss out.  Almirante Montt 427, Cerro Alegre., Valparaiso, Chile  Phone: (32) 2592492
Tip #2: You can take the bus to the bottom of the hill and hail a taxi there to bring you to the top. I believe it's called Plazuela Anibal Pinto.  It's walkable, but straight uphill and not very comfortable. Especially if you're dressed somewhat nicely.
So, the prices. It's expensive. But, the price for each entree does include a salad and a dessert. So keep that in mind when you are reviewing the menu and recovering from sticker shock (if you've lived in Chile or Argentina long enough, anyway). 

The service was great; our server was from France originally, and very friendly, efficient and sweet. We were really impressed by her. The only problem was that a few of their wines on their wine list were not in stock, and it took 3 tries to find a bottle that they had on hand. In the end, we decided on this carmenére (after a bottle of Torrontés or Sauvignon Blanc, I believe.. it's been a while). Some San Pellegrino to keep us sober-ish, and we were good to go.
Pad Thai
The food was delicious. I ordered the shrimp pad Thai (pictured right). Admittedly, it isn't the "pad thai" I am used to, as the sauce was more savory and less nutty or coconutty than usual. It did feature peanuts. But it was still really tasty and the vegetables were perfect.  L had the green curry, which he claimed was pretty "damn hot" and he cleaned his plate. A nice touch was the monkey design in paprika atop the rice plate that accompanied his dish.

The candlelight and atmosphere was very romantic without seeming stuffy or trying too hard. We really, really liked it.
Paprika Monkey!
All in all, we were very impressed with the food and service and absolutely loved the location and ambience in the place. If we ever find ourselves in Valparaiso again, this is on our list of must-do's again. 

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