I went back to Urbane a couple of months ago, but I have to admit I've been a bit slack in putting up this post. The main reason for my slackness is that our dinner was so good, I wanted to make sure my post did the meal justice.
I also have to confess that Urbane is my favourite restaurant in Brisbane. Since returning from overseas in 2003, I've consistently had excellent food there. Now that Kym Machin is back at the helm, I think Urbane is probably serving the best and most consistent food in its history. Although I love eating at Urbane, it also means that every time I go I have extremely high expectations. Luckily it's yet to let me down.
When you come through the fairly innocuous looking door on Mary Street, there's a bar which takes up the left hand side of the room as you walk in. Most of the tables are at the back of the room, in a fairly small area. I really enjoy the dark colours and the feel of the room at Urbane, although I'd like it even more if the tables were spaced a bit further away from each other. It can get a bit noisy in here when it's full, which takes away from the intimate feel of the room.
Once we'd settled at our table, we were brought out two small tastes to wake up our tastebuds. I had a small slice of trout served with potato cream. My wife was served a dehydrated cherry tomato with potato cream and an onion ring. They were both a delicious start to the meal.
For first course I ordered rare roast squab breast dusted in coca nib, with caramelised onion puree and jamon gelee ($26.50). I am a real sucker for rare squab, so it wasn't a hard decision to make. Other entrees included seared blue fin tuna with confit fennel, olive cheeks, crispy onion rings & tomato oil ($26.50) and spiced venison carpaccio, baby beets & cress, plum wine and blackberry gelee ($26.50). It was a pretty strong selection of entrees across the board.
The presentation of my squab was excellent. It came on a big round plate, which had a few different levels on it. The squab was really rare, as I love it, which means it's juicy, tender and has a delicate gamey taste. All of the other flavours on the plate worked really well - the coca nibs had a real bitterness and depth of flavour, while the onion puree and jamon gelee added a contrast of textures. This really was one of the best entrees I was lucky enough to eat in 2008.
On the drinks side of things, I'd ordered a bottle of the 2000 Curly Flat pinot noir (good value at $106 given its age) which was a beautifully perfumed wine, and a perfect match with the rare squab.
The vegetarian at our table ordered the beetroot & chevre tart with herbs, grapefruit, shaved fennel and shaved parmesan. Again, this was another well presented dish. Although I didn't try any (I was too busy scraping up every last drop on my plate), I was told this was an excellent combination of flavours, with no one ingredient overwhelming the others.
After two lovely entrees, we were both looking forward to our main courses. Mains included confit kingfish, tiger prawns cooked in coconut juice & chilli, ginger agre-doux and coriander paste ($40), Wagyu fillet 6+ "Wellington" style, with fricasee of garlic gnocchi, morels & broad beans and pan fried foie gras ($52) and roast rack of lamb with honey parsnip puree, polenta gems, ratatouille and jus gras ($41).
I went for the slow cooked pork belly, chilli & mandarin caramel, marron tail and apple ($41.50). The combination of pork belly and seafood is another flavour match I love, and this one didn't let me down. Although it was a small serving, each of the flavours was lovely. There was even some crunchy crackling on top of the pork belly, adding another level of contrast to the dish. The tiny pieces of sweet apple on the plate were excellent when coupled with a piece of the tender pork belly. As with my entree, I was scraping every little drop of sauce off the plate before it left the table.
We also ordered the black winter & summer truffle risotto, with sauteed & crispy fried mushrooms and cepe foam ($41.50). Although this must be one of the most expensive vegetarian mains in Brisbane, it delivered on the taste front. There were plenty of both the black & white truffles, which made for a perfectly rich dish on a cool night.
Although we probably didn't need to, we ordered a side serve of green beans, sugar peas and lemon oil ($9). The greens were perfectly cooked, still with a slight bite to them and were a great contrast to the rich flavours on both our plates.
After all this rich food it was time for something sweet. I had trouble choosing a dessert, but eventually opted for the rocky road bombe Alaska with coconut choboust, raspberry and puff chocolate panna cotta ($16). Again, this dish was presented in a very cool fashion. There was a big conical tower of the bombe Alaska, that was served with strips of the "panna cotta". The bombe Alaska had some extremely concentrated peanut butter ice cream on the inside, which I thought overpowered everything else on the plate. But apart from the ice cream, the rest of the dish was fun, with plenty of marshmellowly textures.
Our other dessert was the Turkish delight souffle, with rosewater jubes, marshmellow and chocolate sorbet ($16). The Turkish delight souffle was nothing short of amazing. It managed to perfectly capture the delicate flavours of Turkish delight. The chocolate ice cream was also filled with tiny pieces of Turkish delight. Obviously a lot of thought had gone into this dessert, and it's one that I'll remember for a long time.
In the past I've found service at Urbane to be a little bit aloof. However on this visit it was good to see that service has become more friendly and slightly less formal, whilst still being very professional. The end result means that diners like you and me feel much more comfortable in the restaurant.
I was also glad to see that the wine list has really improved. I was particularly impressed with a few cellared selections on the list at very reasonable prices (like the Curly Flat pinot which we enjoyed).
I think Urbane really is a must visit food destination in Brisbane. I know it's expensive, but if you want to enjoy the best food in Brisbane, it's not going to come at happy meal prices. It also means that there aren't too many people out there that can eat at Urbane on a regular basis, which means it really is a special occasion kind of place. I try to get there once every twelve months or so, and save my pennies in the meantime.
What does all this mean? Brisbane's most innovative modern food, with a well thought out wine list and approachable, professional service. Next time you're looking for a special occasion restaurant, put Urbane at the top of your list.
food bling ratings
Food - Top Shelf
Service - Great
Ambience - A small room with dark wood and a modern feel
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Great
Vegetarian - Great
179 Mary Street
P - (07) 3229 2271
W - http://www.urbanerestaurant.com/
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