From Sarah Lipman. You can email her at sarah[AT]@borderstan.com.
I’ve been a devoted fan of Urbana since I moved to the city three years ago. Embarrassingly enough, I’ve only recently learned that I’ve been pronouncing the restaurant’s name incorrectly. To save everyone the humiliation of continually raving about a restaurant without even getting the darn name right, the correct pronunciation is [ur-BAH-nah].
Part of Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar on P Street NW, the best way to describe Urbana is a chic, Italian-French-Mediterranean wine bar. For those with food allergies or for the picky eaters out there, it’s worth noting that the kitchen is incredibly accommodating to diner’s specific requests for substitutions and changes, and even offers a gluten-free menu.
The restaurant and bar can be a bit of a scene on weekends (in a good way!), and weeknights find the space more laid-back, with more Hotel Palomar guest diners versus a local patronage. Service is solid, and Chef John Critchley, who took over in 2010, made his rounds around the dining room on my last visit.
The menu’s got a lot going on, with cheese and charcuterie plates, sides, pizzas, starters, and mains, and it changes with the seasons. To help narrow things down for you, here are my Urbana summer menu picks:
P Street Blue. Yes, I did say it was a wine bar. But this olive-infused vodka martini, with olive juice and over sized blue cheese-stuffed olives is my favorite martini in the district.
Mushroom Ragout. This surprisingly large plate of herb-roasted mushrooms is topped with a runny egg, which adds richness to the dish.
Wood Stone Pizza
Peach. This unusual pie features roasted peaches and speck with cracked black pepper and a rosemary cream sauce. Both the sweet and the savory flavors shine.
Foie Gras “Corn Dog”. It’s a house-made foie gras bratwurst in corn dog batter, with chopped relish and cognac mustard for dipping. Need I say more?
Cannelloni. Lighter than expected, these pasta logs are filled with sweet braised beef short rib, leeks, reglise, and truffle pecorino.
Pot du Crème. I hardly ever go for a dessert without some chocolate. This one’s a dark chocolate crème with whipped hazelnut anglaise and hazelnut biscotti.
Urbana: The Details
- Where Am I Going: 2121 P Street NW, between 21st and 22nd Streets.
- When Am I Going: Urbana is open for dinner from 5:30 to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday, and open until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. Breakfast is served from 7 to 10:30 am during the week, and brunch is served 8 am to 3 pm on the weekends. Lunch options are available 11:30 am to 3 pm during the week. The bar is open from 3:30 to 11 pm Sunday through Monday, open until midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and open until 2 am Friday and Saturday.
- Paycheck Pain: Starters are $15 and under, entrees range from $19-$29. Cocktails are $13.
- Say What?: Seating close to the bar can get noisy on weekends, but weeknights are pretty subdued noise-wise.
- What You’ll Be Eating: French/Mediterranean-influenced fare.