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Urena


Eatmywords
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There's a blurb in NYMetro re Alex Urena's new place set to open this Monday. http://nymetro.com/nymetro/food/openings/15532/ . I called to get some info and spk w/a friendly woman who informed that reservations are being accepted for opening night on). They'll be room at the bar for tapas/apps, $60 prefix and a $90 tasting (pairings available). From what (little) I know about Mr. Urena (not sure if he was there when I ate at Bluehill, Bouley or Marseille) and what favorable mentions I read in Doug Psaltis's book; "Seasoning of a Chef" I'm very curious to sample his take on Spanish fusion. Judging from the blurb's mention of dishes involving mustard paper, chorizo emulsion and a former WD-50 pastry alum it is sure to attract strong attn in the NYC foodie scene and here.

Is anyone excited or know anything about this place? Are comparisons to WD in store for Urena?

That wasn't chicken

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I was going to say that, too. We've already seen his take on Spanish fusion, and it wasn't all that impressive.

OTOH, this appears to be a much more serious restaurant than Suba, and Urena (or his new handlers) are probably giving him(self) a much freer hand than the owners of Suba did.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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There's a blurb in NYMetro re Alex Urena's new place set to open this Monday.  http://nymetro.com/nymetro/food/openings/15532/ .  I called to get some info and spk w/a friendly woman who informed that reservations are being accepted for opening night on).  They'll be room at the bar for tapas/apps, $60 prefix and a $90 tasting (pairings available).  From what (little) I know about Mr. Urena (not sure if he was there when I ate at Bluehill, Bouley or Marseille) and what favorable mentions I read in Doug Psaltis's book; "Seasoning of a Chef" I'm very curious to sample his take on Spanish fusion.  Judging from the blurb's mention of dishes involving mustard paper, chorizo emulsion and a former WD-50 pastry alum it is sure to attract strong attn in the NYC foodie scene and here. 

Is anyone excited or know anything about this place?  Are comparisons to WD in store for Urena?

There is also a piece in Time Out and the associations with Suba are much closer than it appears from what I have heard (although I don't think Suba is involved financially---Suba is where Urena last worked and first got to try his Spanish style on the public). The pastry chef worked with Urena at Suba and the wine list is being done by the Suba sommelier according to friends in the wholesale wine trade.

Its interesting to hear people knock Suba which I always think is residual from before Alex started as chef there and the owners decided to change the tone of the restaurant. They succeeded in changing it from a "scene" in a gimmicky space, similar to so many other LES places and the meatpacking district, into a restaurant with serious culinary pretensions and managed to do so pretty successfully attracting notice from the serious food and wine press--which is a rare feat without shutting down and re-imaging. Alex is still listed as the consulting chef according to the Suba website.

True, there is still an element of the old crowd (especially the weekends), but at least now they are getting well thought out food and wine with good service rather than the run of the mill that permeates the rest of the neighborhood (with some exceptions--WD, Thor, etc.).

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Its interesting to hear people knock Suba which I always think is residual from before Alex started as chef there and the owners decided to change the tone of the restaurant.  They succeeded in changing it from a "scene" in a gimmicky space, similar to so many other LES places and the meatpacking district, into a restaurant with serious culinary pretensions and managed to do so pretty successfully attracting notice from the serious food and wine press--which is a rare feat without shutting down and re-imaging.  Alex is still listed as the consulting chef according to the Suba website.

True, there is still an element of the old crowd (especially the weekends), but at least now they are getting well thought out food and wine with good service rather than the run of the mill that permeates the rest of the neighborhood (with some exceptions--WD, Thor, etc.).

oh...I've had decent meals there in the last two years....just not anything worth remembering (I can't recall a single dish).

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  • 2 weeks later...
Has anyone been, word is he went to train at the Bulli and is doing "modern spanish" plus a pastry chef from the WD 50 ?

Sounds interesting....

I could be wrong on this, but I thought he did his stint in Spain quite some time ago, before he teamed up with Dan Barber to open Blue Hill. As a matter of fact one of the interesting dishes on the original Blue Hill menu was pretty much a copy of a Martin Berasategui dish--smoked eel, raw apple and foie gras. I believe Alex worked or staged at Martin as well as El Bulli.

It's interesting that Eatmywords cites Psaltis' comments in regard to Alex, if only because Psaltis has been so determined to paint Dan as a chef dependent on other chef's recipes and yet praise Alex. Personally I'd dismiss the thousand little pieces of that memoir which read more like an attempt to settle scores with some chefs while kissing some other butts. Although the Psaltis memoir didn't get the press attention of Frey's book, it was interesting that when the NY Times interviewed Alex Ureña, who, as Eatmywords notes, got good press in the book, Alex choose not to offer any support in return.

I've not eaten at Suba, and was midly disappointed at Marseille, but I think Ureña was hamstrung there working on a menu not of his own choosing. This is actually one of the new restaurants that interests me and one I look forward to trying.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I also think that this is in my list of new places to try. I do think however, that it takes more than being an elBulli graduate to make it these days. La Broche in Miami did very poorly.

Arley Sasson

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I also think that this is in my list of new places to try. I do think however, that it takes more than being an elBulli graduate to make it these days. La Broche in Miami did very poorly.

Arola, La Broche's chef is an elBulli alum, but he was in residence at La Broche in Madrid. More importantly, Miami is not NY. I've just finished posting elsewhere to efect that NY is hardly knocking down doors to eat nueva cocina, but there's a greater dining population in NY and the percentage willing to try new things is probably larger than in Miami. Based on what I've heard and my one meal at a Broche in Madrid, Arola's cooking hasn't been all that consistent either over the years La Broche was open in Miami. It's also been my impression that first class chefs from NY who have opened restaurants in Florida have had a hard time achieving critical success. For one thing, there just isn't the employee pool we have in NY.

Anyway, Alex isn't just an elBulli grad. My understanding is that his elBulli experience goes back a few years and he's paid his dues cooking menus that were pretty much designed by other people. Perhaps his new Spanish influences were best displayed at Blue Hill some years back. In the meantime he's practiced his craft and learned how to please diners. Restaurants are a risky business, (owning one or eating in one) but I'd invest the price of a meal on the faith that this one will worth trying. I guess that means we agree, but I thought I'd express my reasoning.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The four restaurants in NYC that I haven't yet been to that I most want to include Urena, Gilt, Cru and Room4Dessert.

I thin Bux' comments about the employee pool are quite pertinent. It is very difficult in the United States outside of the largest cities to find the right employees to work these restaurants. It takes a certain interest, skill and knowledge to be able to do so and do it at a level that makes the restaurant shine. Restaurant service has historically been much more of a transient position in the US than say, in Europe where historically it has been a career. Hopefully, that is changing in the US.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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[Anyway, Alex isn't just an elBulli grad. My understanding is that his elBulli experience goes back a few years and he's paid his dues cooking menus that were pretty much designed by other people. Perhaps his new Spanish influences were best displayed at Blue Hill some years back. In the meantime he's practiced his craft and learned how to please diners. Restaurants are a risky business, (owning one or eating in one) but I'd invest the price of a meal on the faith that this one will worth trying. I guess that means we agree, but I thought I'd express my reasoning.

I too am willing to give Alex the benefit of the doubt and check out his place. I think he's earned his stripes. And I hope that it does well. I think we need more creative cuisine in NYC.

Edited by ASM NY (log)

Arley Sasson

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alex has been a major player for almost ten years

working from a dishwasher at bouley to opening the bakery in a mgmt capacity

he trained summer 98 at el bulli the year before i was there and returned the following year (perhaps more) for a short stint before opening blue hill as the chef de cuisine

i think that the marseille/suba years can fairly be categorized as the leaner years in his strong career in nyc, and i am looking forward to trying this restaurant

aside from his expertise in cooking, he is one of the most pleasant people you would ever hope to encounter

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aside from his expertise in cooking, he is one of the most pleasant people you would ever hope to encounter

Sounds like a nice combination.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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aside from his expertise in cooking, he is one of the most pleasant people you would ever hope to encounter

Sounds like a nice combination.

There's no shortage of egos in the kitchen and culinary world, but I have run into a batch of nice guys who really know how to cook and keep their egos private, even in NYC. That's another thread perhaps, but I don't want to embarrass anyone.

I never got to Suba, so I can't really say how much the menu changed after Alex got there, but he wasn't the chef who opened the restaurant and I suspect he had to maintain some continuity. One thing we should all realize is that few chefs are really their own bosss. Even those chefs with their name on the marquee, often have to answer to their investors and many investors are unable to keep from inflicting their tastes and opinions on the kitchen.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Personally I'd dismiss the thousand little pieces of that memoir

haha. don't you mean a million little pieces?

clever.

props.

Correct. I didn't think anyone noticed inaccuracies any more. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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.............i think that the marseille/suba years can fairly be categorized as the leaner years in his strong career in nyc,..................

Hm.........but wasn't Suba the place where he first created his own menu?

he has had a strong hand in menus for a good period of time

imho blue hill had a strong imprint of alex, just as it did with miike anthony, though dan was clearly driving;

marseilles/kemia was all him to the best of my knowledge;

suba had already been well trodden by a bevvy of fairly talented nyc chefs, none of whom seemed to have much of an impact;

it is very difficult for a young chef not on tv to become a breakout star in new york and often that means doing the best you can for the concept at the time you are there;

for the hundreds of alumni of bouley, jean georges, daniel etc of the past decade, it is hard to think of any who were able to open a rival immediately.

most three star michelin chefs would consider a 20 year rise fairly rapid and enviable, its a shame we expect everyone to do it in 1.

back to topic, perhaps this is the best environment for alex to thrive

wg

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most three star michelin chefs would consider a 20 year rise fairly rapid and enviable, its a shame we expect everyone to do it in 1.

wg

very good point and something we, especially in NYC tend to forget.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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most three star michelin chefs would consider a 20 year rise fairly rapid and enviable, its a shame we expect everyone to do it in 1.

wg

very good point and something we, especially in NYC tend to forget.

It's a sign of the times, I suppose. I might well have made a similar comment about the art world a generation or two ago. Our society tends to chew up and spit out our stars quickly. It's with very mixed emotions that I've come to watch chefs become stars. A great cook deserves the fame, but few deserve what comes with it.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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btw...I take back some of my initial skepticism...although the place is still a work in progress, the menu and cooking are much more ambitious than anything he did at Suba.

The lobster entree with pickled rhubarb and pumpkin salsify is already a standout. Prices are reasonable as well.

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Everything was fine on the tasting menu at urena's last night. The lobster was indeed outstanding, and the amuses boldly interesting, but the halibut and the scallops were just okay. They weren't bad but just standard combinations that you find everywhere.

The desserts were weirdly ill conceived. We had the yogurt sorbet which weren't bad but it weren't good either. The flavor combination were just odd. But the slices of samolina cake with rosemary ice cream and feta cheese was down right awful. The feta cheese over powered everything on the plate so all you taste was the saltiness of the dish. There was some sort or honey that was drizzled over it, which only made the combination worse. I am all for experimentation when it taste good but this flavor combination simply does not work (at least for me).

The staff was friendly and wonderful. Although many people had complained about the brightness in the room, it didn't bother me. Urena has possibilities, I like to see the menu evolve more, but I may just pass on the dessert.

Also, I'd like to add that for a restaurant that had been opened for 10 days, it is damn good.

edit for grammar.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

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I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Everything was fine on the tasting menu at urena's last night. The lobster was indeed outstanding, and the amuses boldly interesting, but the halibut and the scallops were just okay.  They weren't bad but just standard combinations that you find everywhere.

The desserts were weirdly ill conceived.  We had the yogurt sorbet which were bad but it weren't good either.  The flavor combination were just odd. But the slices of samolina cake with rosemary ice cream and feta cheese was down right awful. The feta cheese over powered everything on the plate so all you taste was the saltiness of the dish. There was some sort or honey that was drizzled over it, which only made the combination worse.  I am all for experimentation when it taste good but this flavor combination simply does not work.

The staff was friendly and wonderful.  Although many people had complained about the brightness in the room, it didn't bother me.  Urena has possibilities, I like to see the menu evolve more, but I may just pass on the dessert.

That's unfortunate on the tasting esp the desserts which I thought were fabulous. I think the al a carte options are much more interesting. I'm posting a review once I figure out how to load these not-so-clear pictures. :wacko:

That wasn't chicken

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