Urbana Renewal

The chef has changed, but the party rolls on

Personally, I like any of the entrees from Urbana's grill, infused but not overwhelmed by the subtle flavor of pecan smoke. The mixed grill ($19) is meat-eater's heaven: a split length of firm, smoky venison sausage, a beautifully moist little marinated quail and a hulking cooked-to-order lamb chop. I simply ignore the pork medallion, which invariably seems to arrive dry, tough and overcooked, and rescue my lamb chop from the puddle of too-sweet ancho chili barbecue sauce beneath it. The sauce works well enough with the venison sausage, but it's too much for the poor lamb. I am intrigued by the texture of the accompanying jalapeno cheese grits; instead of folding the cheese into the grits, Urbana's kitchen puts it and the peppers on top.

The dessert tray is also worth examining. The dense chunk of chocolate bread pudding earns high marks, but rather than topping it with more chocolate, the kitchen would do well to concoct a good hard sauce for contrast. "Go for the pecan tart," prompted Puente on a recent visit. I did, and I was happy. It's a solid mass of chopped pecans and brown sugar encased in flaky pastry crust and topped with bittersweet chocolate. Amazingly, it wasn't too sweet -- but it was too much. I took half home in a doggie bag.

The good news is that in Montrose, making the scene and enjoying the food are not contradictory propositions. Those who were concerned when Kip Cox left so suddenly needn't have worried; the refined menu promises continuing success on the boulevard. "We haven't reinvented the wheel," says Puente. They've just in-lined it.

Urbana, 3407 Montrose, 521-1086.

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