26 Dunluce Avenue, Portrush. Tel: 028 7051 1332
What a pretty Portrush restaurant this is, with lots of individual bulbs hanging from the ceiling all around the dining area along with an outer border of caged bulbs.
There is a big centrepiece open bar and kitchen where you can watch the staff hard at work and if people-watching is something you like to pass the time with, you can look the other way through the all-glass frontage out to the busy street.
The bistro-style menu had lots of choice and all very reasonably priced, which was another plus in these inflationary times. The servers were attentive, but the restaurant was busy so napkins and condiments were on occasion harder to secure than I would have liked. It was not bad service by my standards, but I prefer to keep my administrative burden to a minimum during a meal.
Starters were superb, both in look and in taste. My squidgy bao bun came in a mini bamboo steamer and it was filled with rich aromatic duck. It had all the flavours I know and love from crispy duck pancakes with salty hoi sin and crunchy carrot and cucumber. For me, the bao bun is a much superior vehicle to enjoy all of those tastes than a thin pancake anyway, so I was very happy.
The other starter was a little loaf of bread with a golden brown crust sitting proudly on a wooden board. It was rich and moreish, bursting with garlic butter and stuffed with cheese. So much more satisfying than the standard slices of garlic bread that are so often served up.
For my main course, I had the special of lamb risotto, which I must confess was not something I would really ever consider ordering but thought I would give it a try. There were slices of sweet lamb, big earthy mushrooms, blobs of minted pea puree and parsnip crisps to add a bit of texture. All of those things were well cooked and tasty but they just did not marry well with the slightly too wet risotto underneath. A fusion of traditional Italian and traditional Sunday dinner really didn’t work for me.
The other main was a beautiful big belly-busting burger. Top quality beef with a bacon and cheese centre and topped with crispy onions in a sweet brioche bun, a carnivore’s dream dish.
Desserts were a couple of sweet and gooey chocolate fondants. They were dotted with some of the best honeycomb I have ever had and lots of berries and topped off with a sweet raspberry sorbet. My dining partner loved the onslaught of sweetness but I felt it needed a bit more sharpness to balance it all out.
I did, of course, eat every bit and roll out the door, full to bursting point.
To sum up, this place impressed me. Even though I didn’t make the best choice for my main I could appreciate the cooking skill in every course and when that was mixed in with the great value and excellent atmosphere, Urban was a definite winner.
Duck Bao Bun£6
Garlic Crusty Bread£5
Urban Stuffed Burger£10
2 Desserts & 2 Drinks£15.90