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Dining Review: Urbain 40

Orlando Family’s dining critic sizes up Dr. Phillips’ Urbain 40

Billed as an American brasserie and lounge, Urbain 40 is relatively new to Sand Lake Road’s restaurant lineup; in fact, it won Best New Restaurant in last year’s Best of the Best. This modern rendition of a swinging, 1940s-style, neighborhood eatery features a simple and elegant atmosphere reminiscent of the big band era, where you can enjoy a wide selection of delectable cuisine and a two-finger Jack Daniel’s on the rocks, just the way Frank Sinatra preferred.

With creative spins on vintage decor, the space is divided into a main dining room, two semiprivate dining salons, a separate bar for dining and imbibing, and an outdoor patio by the Dellagio complex’s dramatic fountain. Wood-paneled walls; crisp, white table linens; stylish banquettes; and upholstered chairs add a touch of elegance. Proper attention was given to lighting, including specially designed fixtures that angle by the dozens from the walls over the tables and golden chandeliers with a pantograph design overhead. It even has the black-and-white, small-format tile floor so typical of French bistros.

I was quite impressed with our waiter, Miguel. We told him we were not in a rush, so we ordered each course as the previous one came out. The food was staggered perfectly, and Miguel was friendly and knowledgeable about the entire menu. He asked my wife, Toni, and I if we needed the wine or whiskey menus. We answered in unison, “Whiskey, please.”

I started with their take on the Old Fashioned ($12). Garnished with a dried orange rind and whiskey-soaked Bordeaux cherries, it was a delicious start to a very nice evening. Toni had the Manhattan ($12), and she was excited it came with those soaked cherries.

We have both heard that the Sherry-Laced French Onion Soup ($12) with aged Gruyère cheese and herbs de Provence crostini was phenomenal, but neither of us wanted to share, so we both had a bowl of one of the best French onion soups we’ve ever enjoyed. It had a very rich onion flavor, and the Gruyère was perfectly melted on top of the crostini.

Our next course was the Mussels a la Flamande ($17), featuring Applewood smoked bacon, shaved fennel, celery white wine and reduced cream. The presentation was stunning, served in a small stock pot covered with a lid. When Miguel opened the top, you could smell the fennel cream and onions. My foodie friends told me to get the Northeast Atlantic Coastal Mussels ($16), but this option’s fennel cream sang to us, knowing that the house-made baguette would be great for sopping up the juices. Which leads me to my only criticism about the dish: It needed more reduction of the cream. Nonetheless, we asked for more bread until all the sauce was gone.

My wife ordered the 12-Ounce Char-Crusted Angus N.Y. Striploin ($45), which came with pommes frites and three different sauces: a homemade ketchup, peppercorn and a Sauce Foyot (a béarnaise and demi mix), which surprisingly paired best with the steak. The presentation wasn’t amazing, but the steak was cooked perfectly with a beautiful char on the outside. I would have liked to see it come with a fancier potato for the price and maybe a vegetable? So, we ordered the Pancetta & Balsamico-Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($8). The sprouts were a bit too al dente, but the flavor is what you’d expect from the aged balsamic and the salty pancetta.

I ordered the Trofie di Abruzzo ($24), which paired twisted Ligurian pasta dumplings, duck confit and duck sausage with rhapini and alba mushrooms. This was a rich and exquisite dish that I would recommend to any duck lover. The presentation was beautiful, the duck confit was deliciously salty and tender, and the sausage had wonderful spice to it. One of my favorite pastas I’ve had to date.

For dessert, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte ($8) was amazing. It had layers of dark and milk chocolate, peanut butter crème, dark chocolate sorbet and raspberries. It was crisp yet soft and gooey from the sorbet. Pastry Chef Amanda McFall has outdone herself on this one.

My wife got the Baba Au Rhum ($12), which was a caramelized honey cream, brûléed bananas and pecan brittle. Upon service, Miguel put a floater of banana rum on top of the cake, which was very cool for a dessert. Unfortunately, they needed to cook out the alcohol before putting the floater on the cake. In my opinion, not doing so would blend the flavors of the delicious pecan brittle and caramelized bananas much better than tasting the pure liquor. Still, there was nothing left, but with this small tweak, I believe it could be a big-time winner.

Urbain 40 turned out to be what everyone has been talking about for the past year, offering a cool modern twist on the classics. Regardless of where you live, it’s worth the trip out to the Dr. Phillips area.

Urbain 40
Dr. Phillips | (407) 872-2640

An Orlando resident for more than 25 years, Michael Lit is the executive chef for Central Florida Regional Hospital and also has extensive experience in both casual and fine dining.

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s June 2017 issue.