/ The Seattle Traveler
Seattle — By Mary Jo Manzanares on November 2, 2009 at 6:51 am
Filed under: featuredarticle, Food & Beverage, hotels, restaurant reviews

Seattle Restaurant Review: Urbane

The dictionary defines “urbane” as “notably polished or polite in manner,” and it’s clear that’s just what Urbane, the restaurant, is trying to achieve.

With a location on the first floor of LEED certified Hyatt at Olive 8, I had high expectation for what Urbane had to deliver, both it terms of decor, food, and attitude.  In some respects, they delivered in spades.  In others, however, I think they may be living a little bit too much on their own hype.

Bar at Urbane at Hyatt at Olive 8

Bar at Urbane at Hyatt at Olive 8

I went to the restaurant on a Friday night at 7 pm, a prime “date night” reservation.  We were warmly greeted, and promptly seated.  The first thing I noticed was that the place was loud.  Really loud!  At first I thought it was just bar noise, as it was packed with a lively after work group, but as we were seated at our table in a back part of the restaurant, it was clear that the entire restaurant was going to be just as loud.  Unfortunately, the noise didn’t die down, making it tough to hear the server speak to us and well as requiring us to lean across the table (or shout) to be heard by one another.

The decor is modern, with wood floors, warm tones, and nice lighting, has the sleek chic-ness of a yacht.  It was a nice Pacific Northwest kind of feel.

The premise of Urbane is local food.  And around here we have lots of it!  The restaurant prides itself on a commitment to sustainability, and keeps that in mind with its partnerships with local farmers and producers to provide a “Farm to Table” experience.  A menu that focuses on locally available and in-season products, means that the majority of Urbane’s ingredients come from within a 200-mile radius.  This means that not only is the food the freshest, but it helps to reduce the carbon footprint.  They say that good food doesn’t have to travel far, and they’re right about that!

Another commitment to an eco-friendly approach is Urbane’s Natura water system.  This system triple filters city water, which is then sealed in reusable glass bottles for all restaurant and hotel guests, and is available as still or sparkling.  Patrons are assessed a modest water charge at dinner.

We started our dinner with two specialty martinis, both using local ingredients to create a base.  Although the martini menu will change a bit with the season, I’d recommend giving one of the seasonal choices a try.  They were a deliciously refreshing blend of tastes, with just a hint of bite from the alcohol.  If you’d prefer wine, there’s an extensive selection of wines from Washington and Oregon, and beer lovers can choose from one of the Washington brews.

Our server was knowledgeable about the evening’s specials, answered questions informatively and without attitude, and was friendly without being obsequious.  After placing orders we ordered another martini and a glass of wine, expecting that it would arrive before our meal.  Unfortunately, it did not, and this was just the first of a small handful of service failures that marred the evening.

For our dinner choices we started off with the Grilled Romaine Salad ($11) and the Charcuterie Plate ($15).  Both were a hit for totally different reasons.  The salad had a nice combination of flavors of grill, salty pancetta, and tangy parmesan, complementing the greens.  The charcuterie plate would make a nice pre-theater nosh along with a glass of wine, but also did fine as a first course.  Our beverages, despite a follow up request, did not arrive until we were finished with our first course.  They came with an explanation that it took time to hand-make beverages, but honestly, 20 minutes to make a martini and pour a glass of wine seemed to stretch the credibility of that statement.

Urbane Restaurant Dining Room

Urbane Restaurant Dining Room

Our main courses were the Painted Hills Rib Eye Steak ($24), served with grilled figs, blue cheese, and balsamic glaze, and Snake River Farms Pork Shank ($21) served with a huckleberry and maple glaze.  As with the first course, the entrees were delicious, bursting in flavor, and exquisitely prepared.  The steak was a perfect medium rare, nicely red and juicy, and the figs and blue cheese were a flavorful, if obvious, choice.  The pork was so tender that it fell off the bone, and although the maple could easily have been too sweet, it was nicely moderated by the huckleberries — a great combination that would not have immediately come to my mind.  We also order a side dish of Roasted Cauliflower ($4), which was fine, although I think I would have preferred the Mac ‘n Cheese ($4).  Next time.

Service again was friendly, but inordinately slow.  We weren’t in a hurry, so it didn’t personally matter, but it is annoying to wait too long for a missing piece of silverware or another bottle of water.  I’d think twice about expecting a quick pre-theater dinner, and probably opt for appetizers in the bar.

Again, service was slow, and we waited for quite awhile before our finished plated were cleared, and even longer before we were asked about dessert.  Once ordered, however, dessert came promptly, along with the check.  At that point, it just felt like they were trying to shuffle us out to turn the table.

Although pleasantly full following our meal, we opted to share the Chocolate Cake ($8).  The dessert menu also changes based on the season, but I would imagine the chocolate cake is a year round staple.  It was moist, tasty, and satisfying, which was exactly what we were after, but I’m not sure that I’d call it anything special.  But when it exactly matches what you wanted and were expecting, it’s a little ridiculous to find fault.

My overall opinion of Urbane is a mixed bag.  I score it very high on food – creative menu, well-prepared dishes, fresh ingredients, and good presentation – probably a 4 (out of 5).  It’s just all the other stuff that I found annoying interfered with my enjoyment of the meal.  Knowing that it’s loud means you can avoid it if you’re looking for a romantic date spot (I rate it a 3.0 for ambience), but the inconsistency of the service is something that the restaurant has to work on (I rate it a 1.5 for service).

Would I go back?  Sure.  But it wouldn’t be the first place that I think of.

(A portion of the evening’s meal and beverages were complimentary)

Location: On the first floor of the Hyatt at Olive 8, 1639 8th Avenue, downtown (map).

Restaurant Hours:  Breakfast is served Monday – Friday, 6:30-11 am; lunch is served Monday – Friday 11 am – 2:20 pm, and dinner is served daily, 5-10 pm.   Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 am – 2:30 pm.

Bar Hours:  Daily 11 am – midnight.  Happy Hour 4-6 pm and 10 pm – midnight.

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Urbane

Tags: featuredarticle, Food & Beverage, hotels, restaurant reviews

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