Thursday, August 14, 2008

Urban Tavern Opening Party

Urban Tavern

I've been to a fair number of parties, and in my experience restaurant parties beat all others, hands down. One of the best I've ever been to was the joint fete for Epic and Waterbar. A lot of the same industry folks were at the opening at Urban Tavern last night. It was a great chance to get a sneak peek, toast to the new restaurant, listen to the Backburner Blues Band, catch up on chef gossip and grab a bite to eat.

So first off, the restaurant is attached to the Hilton on O'Farrell St. I'd call the decor rustic contemporary. The large Doug Owen horse sculpture is a focal point and sets the color palette. The menu features grilled meats with most items in the $15-20 range, casserole dishes for 1, 2 or 4 people such as beef daube, sides of vegetables, potatoes, beans and lentils, salads including duck prosciutto and grilled calamari versions ($9-13) mussels and starters ($9-11) that range from charcuterie to piadini to cold tomato and crab soup. Having only nibbles of party food, I'll be back for more of the fries and aioli, my weakness for the evening.

As far as chef spotting goes, it was quite an evening. The restaurant was packed so I'm sure I missed a few luminaries, but I did see local chefs James Ormsby, Gordon Drysdale, William Werner, Donna Scala, Scott Warner, Chad Newton, Joey Altman, Gerald Hirigoyen, and Laurent Manrique.

On to the gossip, did I hear that a certain chef is opening a patisserie in the City? Or that a much loved chef may be returning to the restaurant scene? Or that another seasoned chef who is recently back in the kitchen is rediscovering his gruffer alter ego? I will neither confirm nor deny. But I will share my favorite overheard line of the evening--"I want to go in the kitchen and see Manrique yell at somebody!"

More Urban Tavern reports:
Yum Diary by Tracie Broom, my editor at SF Station
SF Eater

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