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Showing posts with label Urbana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urbana. Show all posts

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Urbana, Part Deux

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup


Urbana the first time around for the blog was, to put it mildly, sort of a shit show. And yet, the place had come so highly recommended and I'd had such good times there before, that it felt weird to pan it so much. Then again, in all honesty, that had been my experience for that particular meal. But, informed that the chef and management had just transitioned a few weeks prior, and that Urbana had just released their new brunch menu a few weeks after my visit, I thought it worth a second look.

I've often thought about what happens if I go back somewhere. Do I write about it again, and if so, is it only if it's phenomenally different from the first go-round? It'll probably be more case-by-case from here on out (I mean how many times can I impress upon people that I really liked Estadio?), but on this one, spoiler alert: it was a much different experience.

This trip subbed in Official Friends of DCWD Rajistan and Chill.

The Vibe

On this trip, we sat on the actual restaurant side, a mix of interesting decorative elements even on the walls themselves, ranging from emerald green brick tile to marble walls, to something looking vaguely like rust-colored wallpaper. Wood floors lead to curved chocolate brown furniture, and there are similar bronzed landscapes of European cities.

The service, which was almost entirely the problem with our last go-round was much improved, with a friendly attentive server. Importantly, it didn't seem, as last time, that anyone was dissatisfied with their service, so that was definitely a plus.

The Food


The purpose of this second trip was to explore this new brunch menu, and even a cursory glance shows that this version is way more extensive and more adventurous, albeit only in a few cases.

Case in point, my ordering of the most exciting dish from the brand new small plates section: Rappahannock oysters topped with passion fruit, lime, and yellow peppers. Do people even eat oysters at brunch normally? That being said, it was the single most interesting combination on the menu, so by default I had to try it. This was the kind of dish that I was hoping for and expecting in Round 1: interesting, unique combinations, bright clean flavors, and a refreshing start to my day. The oyster itself was fresh, and its clarity was augmented by the crisp citrus tart. A superlative dish in my opinion.

For the actual meal, we all had actual brunch items. I had the three egg omelet, which comes with a selection of any of the following items: mushrooms, spinach, onion, tomato, chorizo, bacon, roasted peppers, cheddar, and goat cheese. I picked them all (a first according to the waiter). This meant my omelette was approximately the size of a house(totally my fault, but totally a great decision), and it was actually pretty good otherwise. A sort of Forrest Gump-omelette: with each bite, you never knew what you were going to get. The crispy potatoes that came with it were fantastic too.

Chill had the eggs Benedict. It's a classic, and it doesn't seem too hard to accomplish for a professional kitchen, but the previous time, my poached eggs came cooked through. This time, they were cooked well, and in general the eggs Benny were par for the course: nothing spectacular, but a very solid dish.

For his part, Rajistan tackled the dish I had problems with last time: steak and eggs. This time the goat cheese and basil and roasted red peppers were gone, and in its place was a hollandaise sauce and french fries. This switch, despite my fondness for the previous ingredients, was good with the hollandaise adding a nice savory and creamy aspect that wasn't there before. This time the steak was also cooked to the medium that Rajistan ordered, and was tender. And like the crispy potatoes with our dishes, Rajistan's fries were a flavorful and welcome addition.

Somehow, despite being stuffed, we were talked into a dessert, splitting a pots du creme: chocolate cream with a hazelnut anglaise and a side of almond biscotti. This was a wonderful dessert, a rich chocolate flavor that wasn't overwhelming with a hazelnut flavor that was oh-so-pleasant. If anything, I wish I could just have the anglaise over and over again.

The Verdict


A vast improvement on the last venture, and a brunch that was always solid and sometimes superlative.

Food Rating: *** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd to Suits Scene
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)

Urbana on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Urbana

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup


With me heading out of town before they moved out of the city, Official Friends of DCWD Chi and Wills and I arranged a goodbye brunch at a restaurant that had come highly recommended for brunch: Urbana.

The Vibe

Urbana is down a set of stairs underneath the Hotel Palomar, and is therefore very similar in terms of trendiness to its home hotel. The bar side where we sat is jam-packed with seating, from lounge couches to one side, a long wooden bar to the other, leading to some high bar tables and more couches in the back. The walls are tile (including a set of large copper tiles that depict Rome), and the floors are marble-like. Decorations serve the wine bar theme, like wine bottles with U labels. The restaurant side is a little more white cloth, with half circle booths and modern furniture and a little brighter than the dim lounge side.

I don't have super high expectations for brunch, but this experience was awful. Our server was indifferent to us, and we weren't even the worst treated party; that dubious distinction went to a group in the back couches that actually got so tired of waiting for the waiter to come to them, that they got up to ask about the orange juice. And it wasn't that the lounge was swamped; the server just seem more interested in catering to the table indulging in the bottomless bellinis and two single girls at the end of the bar. One of the most disappointing, slow services in my life.

The Food

We kept it fairly simple for brunch. I ordered steak and eggs, which in Urbana's case, comes augmented by roasted red peppers, basil, goat cheese, and some potatoes. I liked the idea of it: poached eggs are always a favorite, and the extra ingredients were some of my favorite flavors. This should have been easy. Unfortunately, the eggs were overcooked, the yolk solid at points, which sort of defeats the purpose of poaching them. The steak, which I'd asked for medium rare, came almost well done, except for one end piece that came slightly red. If not for the tiny bursts of basil, it would have been utterly disappointing. Normally, I'd chalk it all up to the poor service leaving it under the heat lamps for too long, but then the server had also come up to us to tell us our food was coming soon, which says to me they hadn't fired it yet. Either way, the food was overcooked and came slow.

The same went for Chi's blueberry pancakes with bananas. I think it's a universal feeling that you order pancakes for two reasons: 1) you don't want to go through the trouble of making them yourself, and 2) for whatever reason, pancakes are just that much fluffier than you could ever hope to achieve when restaurants make them (also known as the IHOP Law). This was not the case for Chi's pancakes, which were chewy and had sort of the consistency you have when you reheat frozen Eggos. Unfortunate, and again, overcooked.

Wills probably had the best dish but that's because his was the simplest: two overeasy eggs with sausage. Except that the server forgot to ask him what breakfast meat he wanted, so Wills had to track him down to tell him.

The Verdict


I've had nice times at Urbana, and I'm sure someone will get me to come there for boozy brunch at some point. But based on this experience, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Food Rating: **
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd to Suits Scene
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing
: It might be a little late to participate in Passport DC's verison, but do your own embassy tour with all of the fun buildings in the area.

Urbana on Urbanspoon