Dreamifood, London

London restaurants: Sushi Samba

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated our paper anniversary: our first year together as a married couple. As a surprised, the hubby booked us a table at the very fancy Sushi Samba.

I am really scared of heights, but I had heard and read about the place, and was curious to see it. I had also read that the chef there has some Portuguese ancestors and has actually been to the same school as me – Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies in Estoril, so I was even more curious about it.

I am not a difficult person to impress; I’ve written here before about how I am always dazzled at the simplest things, so when we arrived at the door of SushiSamba was beyond happy! I was thrilled! My thrill was soon replaced by fear when I saw the glass lift, but I took a deep breath in, faced my fears and up on the lift to the 39th floor. It took some time for my legs to stop shaking, I won’t lie, but the view up there is totally worth it. The place is very fancy, fashion and the welcoming staff seemed lovely…

However, I am all about the food. You can take me to the dodgiest looking place, if the food is good, I don’t really care about whether it’s an ocean view, or facing a truck park on the side road. And maybe my expectations were really high I just don’t know. But truth is, as soon as we sat for dinner everything went downwards.

As my husband booked he forgot to mention about my allergies; we sometimes do forget, but most places, especially Japanese (even if fusion), are quite accommodating and try to offer what they can. Fancy places are usually quite good at this, as the chef usually is even careful of ‘cross-contamination’, which I can’t say for most restaurants.

A lovely waiter asked about allergies and I told him about my black pepper and chillies allergy. ‘No worries I’ll speak to the chef’. We ordered two of their delicious cocktails – Kaifirinhas (or something like that) – and waited.

I have never ever received such an arrogant reply; here’s what I was told (not making this up): ‘the chef says everything might have black pepper, so if you stay it’s at your own risk’. Wow. Brilliant.

I would have gotten up and left, if it wasn’t for my husband, who booked the place and was so happy to take me there as a surprise. I didn’t want to ruin it for him, and as I wasn’t that hungry either way, I stayed. I know ideally we should always tell the restaurant when we book, but sometimes we forget, and I was really shocked with this reply. I mean, even Mexican restaurants always come up with a solution!

My husband ordered a few things, and after a while someone came up to say they were going to manage to prepare a roll after all; by then my mood wasn’t great though. I only tried the sashimi and a tiny bit of the roll and wasn’t at all impressed. But that’s not unusual when I get ‘special’ food at restaurants. However the hubby didn’t really love it either – for the price and prestige of the place I guess he expected something more.

Maybe it was us, or better yet, my hubby, who didn’t pick the right dishes there – we saw a lot of exquisite looking food on some of the other tables; maybe it was the arrogant reply that didn’t exactly leave us in the right mood, but the fact is, we left unimpressed, and disappointed.

Overall recommendation: the view is totally worth taking the glass lift, and the cocktails were really good; Based on my experience, I would book a table at the bar to go for a few drinks and then go for dinner at another place.

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