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Dinner at Urbana in DC

Last Thursday while some were drinking green beer and celebrating St. Patrick's Day, I had a pleasure of dining at Urbana. In the past, I've visited Urbana for both brunch and dinner, but this was my first time to try the food prepared by Urbana's new chef John Critchley.
Because this was a media dinner, we had our own private room, but there are really no bad tables at Urbana. The bar, lounge and restaurant are gorgeous, and please make sure to walk into the lobby of Kimpton hotel to see the pretty orchids!

First thing first, we ordered the cocktails. I chose Glass Slipper with Ketel one, ice wine, white grape juice, Prosecco and frozen grapes. Not only was the cocktail elegant in its presentation, but it was sparkly, light and not overly sweet. Laetitia ordered a special Cherry Blossom cocktail (sorry, can't find the description). The color was absolutely gorgeous, but the taste wasn't a hit with me. I'm not a fan of "flower-y" flavors in my food.

As far as the food goes, you are free to order from both the dinner menu and the lounge menu. Our table was overflowing with food, so I'll just mention some of my favorites.

You can't go wrong with merguez (house made lamb sausage with chestnut and salsa verde). The sausages were crispy and fatty (in a nice way), and I liked the fresh micro greens and pomegranate seeds on the plate which gave the dish a bit of freshness.

Another favorite was dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in serrano ham. Salty, sweet, and crispy: a perfect bite. If you haven't yet, definitely make these for your next party.

Urbana makes its own pickled vegetables: these were superb: crispy, not overly salty, and a nice little snack in between the courses.

The appetizer I ordered was seared scallops with pickled beech mushrooms and black garlic scented salsify puree. What's salsify? It's part of the sunflower family, and its roots are the edible parts.

Scallops are relatively simple to cook, but some restaurants fail at their preparation. Fortunately, Urbana did the dish right: the scallops were cooked all the way through and lacked the watered down texture. They had a nice sear on the outside and did not require a knife to eat.

One of the most popular appetizers was the shellfish: warm stew of calamari, shrimp, clams and mussels in a coconut and citrus broth. This could be a meal in itself. I just wish the lighting was better so that the photographs did the food justice! {On a side note, I absolutely loved the dishes, cutlery and cups at Urbana. Understated, classy and white, the dishes let the food shine: as they should.}

For my entree, on the right, I ordered lamb: seared lamb saddle marinated in dried herbs and flowers, creamy white polenta, rosemary infused peppers and cipolini onions. I was sad that I was pretty full by the time the dish came because it was delicious: the lamb was tender and the polenta was so creamy it almost melted in your mouth. I had the best intentions of eating the leftovers the next day for lunch or dinner, but then ran into a homeless person on the street and thought he would appreciate the food more.

We ordered a variety of desserts to share, but my favorite by far was the apple tart tartin with drunken strawberries, cider glazed vanilla gelato and cider foam. It was like your grandmother's apple tart brought into the 21st century. (Not that there is anything wrong with your grandmother's apple tart.)

This was a fantastic way to try out the new menu at Urbana. We ended the evening with glasses of champagne and a little take away gift of in-house made salsa verde: adorable! I've used the salsa verde while making eggs for breakfast and to spice up a dish of kale and garbanzo beans.


Unknown said...

Gorgeous pictures and great recap! I still have a little bit of salsa verde left. I've been enjoying it ;-)