Friday, June 21, 2013

URBN Bar and Kitchen and the Sheer Joy of Modern Comfort Food

Ever wondered why a hard-core mommy got to find out about this URBN legend?
But you think a mom like me can fit in to a bar?  Guess not? Yet, guess again!
For as long as the place serves great tasting food I will eventually discover the hidden the gem.   Indeed, what great thing happened to me and a friend after braving the odds of what seemed to be a day full of unfavorable circumstances.  Could you imagine a trip of 7 kilometers (approximate) would take you two hours from one end to the other?  Jittery and dumb-headed along the way, I composed myself with sublime food rumination.

My friend might be saying these behind her head "tsk, tsk, this better be good."

Let me tell you, it was, actually not only better but one of the best dinner I had.  I almost was at a loss for words on how I would begin this food write up.  ( For the n-th time, I am not a critic, I'm just a foodie)  As if I have fallen in love for the first time.  (Ohhh, as if I could still remember the feeling, being married for 18 years is a toughie).

Forgive my side-notes.  I think going over the experience while checking out the photos stupefied every cells in brain except my palate.

Here I go...
Before the clock strikes at 10 o'clock, before the heart thumping music, before the youthful vibe and party people filling up the huge bar, the place exudes an elegant, business-like environment where everyone is seated comfortably grubbing, talking, drinking and more grubbing.
The interior design is more of an industrial chic style, and the hanged grills holding the wine bottles really speaks of it.  Booth-type seating, gigantic cocktail wooden tables and bar chairs and high ceiling are some other elements that could describe the place.

Sentimental trip down memory lane

Chef  Benjo Tuason also of RELIK, is running the show.  According to him, what Urbn Bar and Kitchen offers is modern contemporary comfort food.   To get on board with re-imagined, gourmet comfort food trend,  he upped the ante of familiar comfort food by enhancing them with different ingredients or flavors to make them elevated comfort food, and that's where his past and family influences come into play.
Dishes being  inspired by his family's dining background (coming from Australia)  and intertwining it with his chef skills. Like for instance, My Aunt Litzie's Lasagna (for real, that is the name of a pasta dish), is probably an heirloom dish.   Crispy Duck Leg is another one, which was inspired by the Duck Confit he had when he visited Paris, France.  One best example of this is their famous Cheesecake with Salted Caramel, which I was able to try.
URBN's Pride and Joy:  The Menu

Now becoming a sought-after shindig venue, the menu offering is also their pride and joy.

We began with a steamy bowl of Seafood Chowder.
This  holds true to their comfort food concept.  Being creamy and chunk-full of vegetables such as carrots, corn, celery and squash, it can stand alone as a complete meal for those who want to lazy up on a cold night, with slices of salmon, shrimps, octopus, etc.
Below is URBN's House Salad.  Now, think of your regular green leafy salad, but this time pour some honey balsamic vinaigrette and have hefty scraping of Parmesan cheese.  If you think that's good enough, why not try URBN's version with slices of sweet and tarty slow poached pear and crispy candied walnuts.
Also, another salad you may want to try is the Salmon Nicoise Salad.  Nicoise, pronounced as [ni swaz] usually is made up of tuna, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs on a bed of iced lettuce, dressed with vinaigrette.  Theirs however was pimped with poached free range eggs, crispy bacon and croutons, and instead of tuna they have salmon.
Manchego Souffle is something to look out for.  This would mark as one of my first, in the list of firsts, with  savory souffle- a puffed up manchego cheese.  I love the mix of saltiness with a hint of sweetness and nuttiness on the creamy melted cheese mixed with white eggs.   Without the usual sight of souffle on ramekins, this perfectly shaped custardy mixture looked like a hill on a lake of truffle cream sauce.  The cheese souffle was so good, I almost forgot about the dried crispy Jamon Serrano on top of it.
This just got better and better with an ample serving of Truffle Cream Linguine.  Cream-based white sauce pasta enhanced with the fine sapidity of white truffle and zesty lemon.  Is that artisan or what?
Crispy Duck Leg, as I have mentioned, is Chef Benjo's rendition of Duck Confit.  The process of making this is so fancy and crazy- poaching duck legs in fat and rubbed with salt and herbs, then fried to a crisp, but the outcome is a briny, aromatic duck leg with meat being moist and tender.   Great with the Mushroom risotto, braised carrots and red wine jus.
Now, if you want to be blown away and have not been enthused yet with the previous food I have eaten, you better try this then, 24 Days Dry Aged in House Rib Eye Bone-In.  So what's up with the name? Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks.  It's a process that not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.
Now, I'm again at a lost for words and dreaming to turn back time and have this again, or better yet finish up this post and visit them, ASAP.
What I love about this portion of a beef is that its has this smoked maple flavor in it, with the meat easily falling apart as you dig in to it.  According to the staff, lava rocks are used when grilling this with Shiraz Jus.  I remember one of my favorite grill house who uses the same method- Volcanic Grill.
Your mouth will never have that jaw-breaking moment, but a love-affair bursting with buttery and deep beefy flavor.  So don't bargain if you see the tag price a bit high.  It is so worth the price.  It's one of those gastronomic times when you save up for something to indulge to.

Now you will really be off to heaven when you get to experience the wonderful flavors of the Australian Rack of Lamb.  Gathered together on a sliced roasted pumpkin,  a number of herb and horseradish encrusted racks of lamb.
These stole my heart.  All five of us shared with a serving of these, but I confess, I had most of it.
I've eaten a few kinds of cooked lamb in my lifetime, and have read a few about it, you either like it or not.  But the secret to a more enjoyable rack is how it was cooked, and the herbs used to prepare it.  That being said, I think their racks were either marinated or cooked with garlic yogurt.
I could end with that, but how can you hesitate more gourmet dishes, in this case, the desserts.
This reminds me, I have to buy more ramekins and those smaller ones would be good additions to my pantry.  But don't get me wrong, I would never dare poke on a souffle recipe.  Those are for the pros.  But then again, we never know.
We had to try three desserts.  First is the Mango Souffle, served with vanilla and chocolate syrup. You know what, I could have posted a separate post only for souffles and it would definitely begin with the sugary ones.
The souffle is served right away from the oven to the customer's table, so it's hot.   From the outside, the cake seems dense, but once you cut through to the inside the warm and gooey custard oozes out on to your plate and it's subtle mango flavor just refreshes your palate.
Another divine yet a bit strange in making chocolate pastries is with extra virgin olive oil.  I have actually done it several times with my chocolate cakes, where I alter vegetable oils with olive oil (EVOO to be exact).  Though turned out to be a bit costly.  The EVOO gives it a rich lustrous taste, rendering a more chocolatey goodness.  What better way to serve it with is a dash of rock salt to break the sweetness.   This dessert is also served hot.  It actually looked a miniature cake with a moist center.  The surprise comes when you stick your knife or fork into the middle, out comes a gooey, warm dark chocolate treacle.
Oh, I'm talking about the Love-ah Cake.   Another part of their menu which you could easily fall in love with.
Finally, my top pick above all the cheesecakes I have had-URBN's Cheesecake.  Chef Benjo described it as the progeny when an Egg Pie marries a Cheesecake.  For me, it's more of a duet between my fave NY Cheesecake and a common yet well-loved bakery staple, Egg pie.  Look at how the cheesecake stands firm but has thin crust. You can really tell how they have perfected the pastry.  They made it even more bewitching with salted caramel sauce.  Won't those amber, molten slather of caramel entice you.  A storm of amazing sweet, salty, mushy, cheesy, soft as silk texture fills up your mouth.  And all you could ever blab is "ohhh, ahhh  uhhh," etc. then your heart starts to thud even without the thumping club music the bar starts to play off when the party begins at 10 pm.

URBN Bar & Kitchen
Address:   3/F Fort Pointe II Bldg., 28th St
                 Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Contact Numbers:  (0917) 564-9333

1 comment:

  1. Great blog you have here, seems like some great food too! was wondering whether this place also houses live band performances??


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