Thursday, January 11, 2007

Restaurant Week Dinner at Urbana

As you probably are aware, this week is the first restaurant week of the year (there also is one every August). Last night a group of friends and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Urbana, which opened several months ago in the Hotel Palomar in Dupont. The ambiance is fantastic - dim lights, lots of candles, hues of dark greens and redwood, and multiple stations set up throughout the restaurant showcasing some of the offerings on the wine list. It's really perfect for either a cozy dinner for two or a larger group looking for a fun place to do dinner out.

When you walk in you first encounter the restaurant's bar, which is narrow and spans the length of the space. There are a few couches and chairs in the bar area, which are perfect for enjoying the recently introduced "Aperitif Hour" which is Urbana's version of happy hour and features select beers, house wines and snacks for about half-off. Last night we met for a drink in the bar and then sat down for dinner. You had a choice of ordering off the regular menu or doing the prixe fixe. I have had a few items from the regular menu, such as delicious wood-fired oven pizza topped with four cheeses or pears and gorgonzola cheese, as well as a superb heirloom tomato salad during the late-summer, but on this occasion I chose to go with the restaurant week menu. I chose a starter of a fried polenta cake topped with fresh mozzerella and served with a side of mesculun greens. The polenta cake was delicious, and was tender on the inside with a firm and crunchy crust. The crust was the color of dark wheat and was really just appealing to the eye. The mozzerella complemented the crunchiness of the cake beautifully, and the greens were a nice cut to the richness of the cheese and the strong corn flavor of the polenta. For an entree there was a choice of sablefish or spaghetti with lamb meatballs, and it being a cold evening, I was in the mood for something hearty and went with the pasta. The meatballs were seasoned perfectly, and had lingering notes of rosemary and oregano. The sauce was essentially the rich essence of the lamb and was just right. I think I would have preferred if the dish was served with wider, flatter noodles, such as tagliatelle, but the spaghetti worked well. For dessert I had creme brulee. I really don't have a sweet tooth at all and so just had a bite and offered the rest to my tablemates, but reviews were all glowing. The brulee was served in a fairly large, dark brown oval baking dish which made for a nice presentation as the color of the burnt top of the brulee looked beautiful in the rich brown dish. I paired a few glasses of Sangiovese with dinner and it worked well with each dish. I prefer red wine with most food and so don't usually go by the rule of thumb that you should have white wine when eating light-colored food, but the wine really was a nice complement to everything including the polenta. I think Urbana is a great everyday place to pop into for a glass of wine at the cozy bar, especially during Aperitif Hour, and also a perfect spot for a more special occasion.

2121 P Street in NW DC

1 comment:

Mel said...

Last time I went there, the service was a bit slow. The mushroom risoto made up for that though!