Monday, March 21, 2011

Urban Farmer

525 SW Morrison St.
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM


My Grandma LOVES the Urban Farmer restaurant. We took her there for the first time to celebrate her eighty-eighth birthday. We went for brunch. She started with a mimosa and finished off her meal with a bowl of house-made ice cream (a special treat for the birthday girl). Ever since that day, she's been asking when we can go back. She calls it The Nines, though, and has ever since that first day. It makes sense, since the Urban Farmer is located on the eighth floor of The Nines Hotel. The Nines is housed above the Downtown Macy's building and has a second restaurant, Departure, on the top floor.


The Nines is an incredibly fancy hotel and one that I will probably never be able to afford to stay at. It's one of those downtown places with five or more valet drivers waiting out front, all dressed alike. Being only a block and half from a Smart Park (and being that I'm a little too frugal to splurge on something so ridiculously unnecessary), I only pulled up long enough to let my sister and grandma out of the car. (That, of course, means long enough to help her up out of the seat, up onto the curb, and back to the safety of the now unpacked and unfolded walker. If someone was waiting behind me to pull up to the curb, I'm sure they would have considered the wait to be something close to forever.) Despite the fact that I was NOT going to be paying for the valet services, these matching men were awfully accommodating for my grandma (both in and out of the car, both this time and last). They were patient, gentle and gentlemanly. She loved it, of course. And both my sister and I sincerely appreciate their patience and kindness.


Once up on the eighth floor, we were seated at one of the regular dinner tables. Expecting an eighty-eight year old woman to sit at the tall chairs at either the bar or the center table would be a little too much. It wasn't until later that I overheard the hostess mention to a couple entering that seating is also available at the many couches set up throughout the lobby area. That wouldn't have been ideal either but is nice to know for the future.


We started with a glass of red wine each. Both white and red are available for five dollars a glass as is the cocktail of the day. Today's was a version of the traditional sidecar, labeled the buggy.


To eat, we decided on a plate of the farm fries to share. We were tempted for a minute or two by the house-made barbecue chips but decided the fries would suit everyone at the table. According to the menu, they are served with lemon and pimenton. I can't say for sure what that means, but I did enjoy the flavor.


Both my grandmother and sister ordered the warm Dungenous Crab dip while I went with the vegetarian-friendly mini mac and cheese. The crab dip was served with six cheese puffs. My sister commented on the fact that they didn't have enough cheese to be much more than a creamless cream puff. I did notice a sprinkling of something baked onto the top, but she was right to say that the flavor was lacking.


The mini mac and cheese was presented in the cutest little baking dish. It came garnished with an oil-cured tomato that, in my opinion, could have been left off the desription as it didn't add much to the complete dish. It did have good flavor, but there was just the one tiny little slice, leaving much of my mini mac to be without too much flavor. And I only say that because it, too, wasn't quite cheesy enough for my liking. Creamy, yes. It was velvety smooth...but just didn't have much flavor to it. And the breadcrumbs that added so much to the presentation really distracted from the flavor and texture of each bite. It was a good addition, but completely out of proportion.


The Urban Farmer has a lot of really exceptional qualities. During both visits, I was most impressed with the service. They are smartly dressed (words of my grandmother), patient, respectful and genuinely helpful. There are also plenty of them, leaving me to think that despite the quiet appeal of the restaurant during the day, it must be bustling at night. I am also fond of the fact that they work hard to maintain the presentation of the establishment. From the pictures, you can see that the chairs at the bar are all positioned perfectly. And in the restroom, there are hand towels instead of paper towels. It's good for the environment and leaves a good impression.

Food: Nearly Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets

-b

Urban Farmer

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