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.
Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.
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Sarah Lipman is a food writer for Borderstan.
What’s the best resto in DC? Why?
Lipman: Vidalia: southern-inspired food that’s classic yet imaginative. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?
Lipman: I want to taste as many different things as possible, connect with the fantastic city of DC and concisely tell the Borderstan readers all about it.
Which food writers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?
What is your version of comfort food?
Lipman: Mashed potatoes and Thanksgiving-style stuffing. Warm and buttery, these dishes make me feel like I’m surrounded by family.
What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?
Lipman: My phone — to call for takeout or reservations.
From Sarah Lipman. You can email her at sarah[AT]@borderstan.com.
A good and greasy piece of fried chicken has been known to melt my heart. So admittedly, Eatonville is my kind of place.
Inspired by Zora Neale Hurston and named for her Florida hometown, Eatonville delivers dependably delicious southern cooking. Bold, bright murals cover the walls, and chintzy touches such as scattered rocking chairs set the southern ambiance.
With a mix of Motown greats like Marvin Gaye playing in the background, we started our meal off right with a couple of cocktails. On the sweeter side, cocktails at Eatonville have funky names like “Daisy Lemonade” and “Grown and Sexy,” the latter of which I almost ordered just for the fun of it.
An order of the honey-cornbread muffins served with sweet whipped butter is a must; an order of four muffins costs only $2. While unfailingly southern, the menu does feature a shocking number of healthy options, such as cauliflower and goat cheese spinach salad, vegan gumbo, and pan-fried tofu with mushrooms. That being said, if you’re here, I say go for it — if it has “fried” in the name or description, it’s almost certainly tasty.
The fried green tomato starter is served with avocado and has a surprisingly spicy kick of oil. Southern fried chicken arrives on a plate chock-full of collard greens, mac and cheese and a buttermilk biscuit. Other stand-out entrées include:
- Catfish and grits, which featured fish, which was at the same time flaky and crispy, and cheesy jalapeño gruyere grits.
- Pan-fried pork chop with sweet potato hash and broccolini.
- Pecan-crusted trout with hoppin’ john (essentially dirty rice).
That southern influence extends to their hospitable service. At the end of a meal I had there, a busboy accidentally removed and tossed a dish my friend wanted to take home. The waiter promptly fixed her a new (slightly smaller) portion of her entrée.
Next up on my list to try at Eatonville — the BGLT sandwich (bacon, fried green tomato, lettuce).
Eatonville: The Details
- Where Am I Going: 2121 14th Street NW (at V Street)
- When Am I Going: Eatonville is open Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am to 11 pm; Friday, 11:30 am to midnight; Saturday, 10 am to midnight; Sunday, 10 am to 11 pm. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 3 pm.
- Paycheck Pain: Starters are all under 10 bucks, entrees $21 and under, and sandwiches in the $9-$13 range. Cocktails will set you back about 10 bucks.
- Say What?: You can clearly hear both your dining party and the great tunes with ease.
- What You’ll Be Eating: Down-home, feel-good, southern cookin.’
Borderstan welcomes new contributor Sarah Lipman. You can email her at sarah[AT]@borderstan.com.
After walking past Agora time after time, I finally paid my first visit to the lively restaurant on Sunday. It certainly lived up to my expectations.
On Sunday nights at Agora, $24.99 will afford you a four-course dinner featuring their signature Turkish/Greek mezes. Add $12.99 to that and you can help yourself to unlimited house alcohol, including red and white wine, vodka, gin, tequila, rum and martinis. My boyfriend and I went for the deal.
Our hearts were set on eating outside on the patio, so we put our name in and started our night at the bar. The weathered red brick and wood throughout the restaurant gives the interior a homey, neighborhood feel, and the bar is bright and exposed.
We began the evening with a Greek red wine and the creamy cured roe spread, served with piping hot pita bread and complimentary olive tapenade served in olive oil.
On the whole, the dishes were high on flavor, and the best of the bunch showcased pine nuts and hints of lemon. Can’t-miss dishes included:
- Kibbeh, slightly sweet beef and lamb dumplings
- Veal sweetbreads in a creamy sauce
- Eggplant covered in ground beef and lamb
- Zuchinni pancakes
- The flaky baklava filled with pistachios
After small plate-style dining, I sometimes find myself heading to my neighborhood pizza joint for a quick slice, but after my dinner at Agora, I was beyond stuffed.
Located on 17th Street NW between Church and Q Streets, the patio is a prime spot for people watching, and you’ll certainly see people of all types and all walks of life. Needless to say, I’ll be back.
- Where am I going: 1527 17th Street NW, between Church and Q Streets.
- When am I going: Dinner is served 5 to 11 pm, Sunday through Wednesday, and 5 pm to midnight, Thursday through Saturday. Lunch is served 11 am to 3 pm, weekdays. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 3 pm. The Happy Hour menu is available weekdays, 3 to 7 pm.
- Paycheck pain: The four-course Sunday special is $24.99, and each small plate runs from $5 to $14.
- What you’ll be eating: Mediterranean fusion small plates, including Turkish and Greek flavors