Dinner at Urbana in Washington DC

December 3rd, 2010

My DIL Kristen’s brother David is the sous chef at Urbana Restaurant in the Dupont Circle area of Washington DC.  Urbana was voted the hottest restaurant bar scene in the area with it’s brick pizza oven and innovative Western Mediterranean cuisine.  The restaurant is both sophisticated and cozy with fires burning in two fireplaces near the entrance.

David reserved the private dining room for us and prepared a seven course tasting menu of dishes not found on the regular menu.  The only hint he would give me as to what he had planned for us was “root vegetables”.  Urbana’s kitchen relies on fresh, seasonal ingredients, so this made sense to me.  I took pictures of each course as it was brought to us, but I have to apologize for the blurriness of some of the pictures.  I couldn’t exactly carry my tripod into the restaurant with me.  The whole meal was an experience in good taste and an inspiration to me to concentrate more on sauces, reductions and seasonings.

Our amuse bouche was a toasted brioche with prosciutto, arugala and white truffle oil.  The brioche was crispy and paired well with the peppery prosciutto and arugala and earthy truffle oil. An excellent way to start our meal.

Our first course was a pierogi stuffed with rutabaga and saffron with a lemon honey gastrique.  I grew up with pierogis.  They are Polish in origin and are stuffed dumplings. They are usually stuffed with potatoes but  David’s version with rutabagas was far and away the best pierogi I have ever eaten.  The gastrique, which is a thick sauce made from a reduction of the lemon and honey, accented the mild taste of the dumpling.

Next we were served a sunchoke soup with smoked bacon lardons, goat cheese and thyme.  This silken soup was sublime.  Sunchokes have a taste similar to an artichoke heart and sunflower seeds.  Their nutty quality make them excellent in soups.  They are also known as Jerusalem artichokes.  Next time I am in the Supermarket I am going to buy some and try to duplicate this soup.  The bacon, goat cheese and thyme were the perfect additions.

Oh my!  What can I say about braised pork belly and scallops with celery root, skordalia and sauce Robert.  David braised the pork belly long and slow and it was so succulent.  The sea scallop was cooked to perfection and the celery root was coated in the skordalia, which is a Greek blended sauce of garlic, bread and olive oil.  The sauce Robert added a rich mustardy topping to the whole dish.  This was so complex and brilliant.  I am voting for David to go on Chopped.  I think he could make even the most esoteric ingredients work together.

The fish course was a roasted Pacific halibut with beet risotto and roasted beet with an apple cider butter.  The fish was flaky.  The beet was delicious, but the beet risotto was the star of the show.  The next time I make risotto I want to try to add beets to the mix.  What pulled this dish together was the apple cider butter.  David briefly told us that he reduced apple cider to concentrate it’s flavor and then added butter to enrich it. This is something that I have not tried before and I think it would also be great on pork.

OK.  Getting full here.  Our next course was grilled lamb loin, cauliflower, marinated royal trumpet mushrooms with fried capers and olive jus.  The lamb was cooked medium rare and was very tender.  The trumpet mushrooms benefited from their rest in a wine marinade and the cauliflower had a burst of flavor from the fried capers.

David even carried the root vegetable theme into dessert.  Have you ever had parsnip ice cream?  It is delicious and Rachel had seconds of it.  This is how David described this dish.  It is a gingerbread pudding with parsnip gelato, ginger anglaise, pear compote and a pear chip.  As full as I was, I managed to eat the whole thing.

What I didn’t mention was that Uncle David took the time the day before our dinner to talk to Kristen about what Rachel liked to eat and he fixed her a separate 4 course dinner with tomato soup (excellent) and grilled cheese sandwich and strawberries.  This was followed by a plate of perfectly cooked broccoli, tiny meatballs and macaroni and cheese.  I have never seen her eat so much.  The macaroni and cheese was the kitchen dinner that night and it was excellent.

Here we all are with chef David.  We applauded his excellent meal.  I am going to try to talk him into coming to Lake Lure for our traditional Labor Day weekend next year.  No ulterior motive involved.  Thank you David.  It was a perfect meal and a wonderful family get together.

12 responses to “Dinner at Urbana in Washington DC”

  1. Oh Penny! My mouth is watering and it is only 9:15 in the morning. What a wonderful meal. David sounds like he is the best chef!

  2. Yum yum yum. Some wonderful ideas there. Love the cider butter, and I need to experiment with sunchokes, which grow wild in my garden. I have never.eaten.them. Can you believe?!

  3. Donnie says:

    I bet we will see him on TV some day. Everything sounded delicious and I especially loved Rachel’s menu. I feed my grandchildren a lot in the summer. Did you take any pictures of her dinner?

  4. How fun Penny. Your experience sounds fabulous and the food is very sophisticated.

    I’m betting we see Chef David on television before you know it. He has a wonderful career ahead of him.

  5. Big Dude says:

    What a delicious sounding meal, and a great opportunity to get the celebrity restaurant treatment.

  6. Great post Penny… I love a coursed meal like this. And the extra effort The chef showed your granddaughter deserves special recognition.

    Excellent post!

  7. Karen says:

    Such fun! The meal sounds just perfect and how sweet that he made a niece-friendly meal just for Rachel!

  8. Susan says:

    Oh Penny!! What a wonderful added addition to your family. I’d be sure to have him visit often. A fantastic and very unusual meal. So glad you had a great time. And a special meal for Rachel…she must have felt like a princess.

  9. nanadarla says:

    Great post, Penny, You did an amazing job describing each course. David has certainly found his niche- may he could combine his singer/songwriter talent with his culinary skills and become TV’s Singing Chef!

  10. Pondside says:

    What a wonderful meal! A chef is better than a doctor in the family any day!

  11. Barbara says:

    What a fabulous meal, Penny! David looks like he’ll have a marvelous career ahead of him.

    Hope you’re feeling better….

  12. I am incredibly proud of my “little” brother! He has many amazing talents, and I’m thrilled that he can share his creativity through his incredible food! He continues to impress me every time I visit!

    I hope many, many people will visit Urbana and continue to sing Chef David’s praises.

    Thanks, Penny, for such a wonderful post! We so enjoyed sharing this experience with you and David!

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