While leading the kitchen at Walt Disney World’s Flying Fish Cafe, Chef Tim Keating elevated the Boardwalk Inn restaurant into a must-do experience. When the cafe closed for refurbishment, Keating took that opportunity to take over the kitchen at Urbain 40 in Dr Phillips’ Restaurant Row, and he is presently focused on giving it the same makeover.
We were invited to enjoy a tasting menu and judge for ourselves how far Chef Keating has come in his first six months in the role.
First, Keating isn’t the only recent change. Urbain 40 recently plussed its 40’s-era decor with a gorgeous Hollywood themed lounge. The long bar dominates half of the lounge with intimate dining surrounded by the glitz and glamor of the stars of the silver screen in the rest of the room. I particularly enjoyed the wallpaper and celebrity photos that reminded me of classic Hollywood haunts I visited in SoCal. In the back is a stage where, on our visit, a jazz trio held court with the perfect music to fit the space.
With his four James Beard Award nominations, Chef Keating prepared a tasting menu that represents the extended menu in its diversity and creativity.
For appetizers we were served the Rock Shrimp & Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche, and a Crispy Jonah Crab Cake. The ceviche was fresh, tangy and I finished every ounce, while the crab cake was dominated by the crab and featured an anchovy remoulade that was as bright in taste as it was in color.
The pasta course was next and I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity of the dish. Chef Keating sourced fantastic twisted ligurian-style pasta dumplings which soaked up a divine duck confit to great effect. The confit is served with duck sausage, wilted rapini, Alba mushrooms, and finished with parmesan cheese. It’s a pasta dish you eat with a spoon, and I would not hesitate ordering it again.
From pasta we took to the sea where a North Atlantic Cod was paired with slow-braised pork belly over antebellum grits and corn pudding with varietal mushrooms and salsifis. The fish was perfectly cooked and the pork belly was almost bacon in consistency, but so much richer. The corn pudding had a wonderful sweetness that made the fish shine even more.
The final entree we sampled was a char-crusted angus NY striploin. The steak will be familiar to Flying Fish Cafe fans with the crusting turning into almost a BBQ sauce. It’s served with pomme frites (french fries to you and me) that were drizzled with truffle oil and a delicious carob blend. The star of the plate was the foyot sauce, which is similar to a bearnaise. It enhanced the steak and went well with the fries too. Don’t like the foyot? Urbain 40 makes its own tasty ketchup too.
We were then introduced to Urban 40’s other star, Pastry Chef Amanda McFall. We enjoyed a trio of desserts, any one of which mandates a return trip to share with someone you love.
The Lemon Meringue Tart was an artsy assembly of blueberry-lavender sorbet, poppy seed crema and blueberries. The tropical sundae deluxe featured toasted coconut gelato, rum-soaked angel food cake, caramel sauce and topped with a peppercorn spiced dried pineapple slice.
It was hard to pick a favorite, but if you like to live at the intersection of chocolate and peanut butter, which I do, you won’t find a better address than the sinful chocolate and peanut butter cake. Layers of dark and milk chocolate, peanut butter creme, with dark chocolate sorbet (had no idea this existed, but now that I know, I want more) and fresh raspberries. Chef McFall knows how to satisfy the soul and the palate as satisfyingly as I’ve ever had for dessert.
Chef Keating mentioned that he plans to continue to update both the dinner and lunch menus, and then transition to a format where seasonal specialities can be added to the menu. This is similar to what made Disney’s Flying Fish Cafe so good, and I expect the Chef will bring the same level of quality with him to Urbain 40.
If you’re looking for a date night, celebrating a milestone, or just want to dine with great food in a swanky sophisticated environment, you can’t beat Urbain 40.
Urbain 40 is located at 8000 Via Dellagio Way in the Dellagio Town Center in Dr. Phillips. For more information, visit urbain40.com.
Disclosure: CitySurfing Orlando was hosted for a media dine to sample the new menu. As always John’s opinion is honest, and his own.
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