Urbana Restaurant at the Hotel Palomar in Dupont Circle recently made some important changes to their physical space as well as to their identity. The restaurant has gone through a makeover which includes new furniture, a more modern look, a redone private dining space, a larger patio, and a brighter environment. In addition, Chef Ethan McKee made a decision that is near and dear to my heart: to move the menu in a more Italian leaning direction. Last night I had the chance to taste test many of the new items on the menu, and the pastas are definitely where the Chef excels, although the fish and pork dishes were both incredibly flavorful and used beautiful and seasonal ingredients.
- Porcini arancini with roasted tomato sauce. A perfect snack they serve at the bar.
- Marinated sardines served with basil, pine nuts, capers, chili oil, and crostini.
- Mezzaluna with pork cheeks, guanciale, chanterelles, and black truffle. This dish had heft to it, and the flavors were deep and rich.
- Risotto with lobster-scallop sausage, tarragon, and coral butter. I enjoyed the intense seafood aroma, and the butter added an important creamy element.
- Squid ink bucatini with calamari, shrimp, and mussels in a bagna cauda sauce. This was my favorite dish of the night. Slivers of garlic packed the dish with punch.
- Whole dorade with cippolini onions and hazelnut brown butter. The fish was flaky and buttery, and the hazelnuts were the perfect ingredient to tie the dish together.
- Pork chop with cabbage, speck, balsamic, and cherry tomatoes. I loved the acid in the dish from the balsamic and tomatoes. A really nice pairing.
In addition to a new restaurant menu, Urbana continues to offer one of the best happy hour deals in the city which runs Monday-Friday from 4pm-7pm and includes wines and beers from $5-$7, and pizzas and snacks from $5-$10. I like the new Italian lean for Urbana, it seems to be a good look for the restaurant.