Valentine's Day serves as an excellent excuse to do many enjoyable things, one of which would have to be getting treated by someone you love to a delicious meal... which is exactly what happened to me last Wednesday night when the ever-lovely Debbie—and particularly lovely on this occasion—sprang for a fabulous feast for two at Ureña.
Before getting to the food, I must say that although the ambiance at Ureña got pretty slammed when it opened last fall, Debbie and I both thought that the atmosphere was, while nothing special, perfectly pleasant; and the decor, if anything, fairly classic and comfortable. Apparently they've recently changed the lighting, which I'm sure helped, but this is by no means an unattractive a place to eat. Anyway, you don't go here for the design of the dining room, you go here for the beautiful things Alex Ureña (late of Bouley, El Bulli, Blue Hill and Suba) can do in the kitchen. They were serving a special Valentine's Day menu when Debbie and I dined, so your choices will undoubtedly be different, but overall the fish, the bread and the desserts were all superb, the meat slightly less so.
The fun started with an amuse bouche quartet, highlighted by a wonderfully briny, nicely constructed Oyster Shooter with a parsley-mustard granite; and a three-sip serving of warm, thick Carrot-Ginger soup. For the first course I chose the Ensaladas de Micros, a bright and lively green salad with piquillo pepper and tomato-olive salpicon and Iberico cheese (the intense tomato flavor was incredible... an almost forgotten sensation this time of year); and Debbie loved her Gambas Pochados, two perfectly poached shrimp on creamy Manchego rice and covered with spicy chorizo foam.
The fish course was outstanding, especially Debbie's Lansaña de Cangrejo (pictured above), a crab meat lasagna with mussel saffron sauce that tasted sweet and rich and ocean-y and was probably the best dish of the night. I had the Hamachi Pochado, which was also delicious, a melt-in-your-mouth slab of yellowtail tuna with pomegranate sauce and an incredible vanilla salsify puree, which went stunningly well with the fish. Next came the meat, which was also good, but definitely not as good as the swimmers (crawlers?) that had preceded it. My Lomo de Ternera (or veal loin, shown below), was slightly chewy, but the dish was saved by the bed of glazed celery root, portabella confit and oyster mushrooms, as well as the delightful cinnamon scented sauce. Debbie's Lomo de Cordero had too much cardamom for her tastes, and the meat itself lacked the deep flavor of the best lamb dishes, but with its accompanying acorn squash puree and a black olive and rosemary sauce, this was certainly not a bad plate of food in any way.
After a Cava-Strawberry mini-milkshake to cleanse the palate (I abstained; Debbie gulped down both), came two glorious desserts: Buñuelo de Chocolate, which was basically a pair of deliriously decadent chocolate sugar doughnuts filled with warm chocolate ganache and paired with a sour yogurt sorbet; and—amazingly enough, even better—a complex and utterly refreshing White Hibiscus panna cotta with star anis sorbet and kumquat confit that ranks as one the best non-sticky-toffee-pudding desserts I've ever had. This is what it looked like:
It was a beautiful dinner with a gorgeous woman, and I felt like the luckiest guy in town.