37 E. 28th St.
We wanted simple food close to home. We wanted it for sustenance more than glory. We wanted to go somewhere we haven't been or at least not in a while. It was 7:30 on a Thursday. We were doomed.
Houston's on Park Ave. South - a one hour wait. And I believed it.
I Trulli - once again, service was the downfall. We wanted to sit in the bar room, so, finally getting the bartender's attention (he wasn't doing anything) we asked if we could sit down, seeing that there were two empty tables.
His response, "Sure, it's first come, first serve." "Okay, can we sit here," we ask. "Oh no, those are reserved," he responded. "So much for first come first served." We leave.
Blue Smoke wasn't really an option, and there too was an hour wait.
So Danna suggests we check out "the place you've been hesitating about". So we walk over to Urena.
Urena is in an awful location, horribly hidden by dark and shady 'businesses" with a fairly mediocre dining room. But the main dishes at Urena are excellent.
We shared a plate of tapas items to start: Salt Cod croquettes with Chorizo aioli, Banuelo De Queso (manchego, ibercio and stout beer fritters) and a shrimp, chorizo kabob of sorts. The shrimp item was very good and the Banuelo De Queso was excellent. I'd skip the croquettes and order the foie gras option (Danna didn't want it) instead.
photo courtesy of scaredy_kat
For one of our entrees, we ordered the Cochinillo Confitado (above), confit suckling pig, granny smith apple puree, wilted greens and oyster mushrooms, truffle sauce. Wow. This was solid through and through. The only problem was cutting the three smallish squares of pork. It wasn't a problem so much as ruining a nicely plated dish because the squares would fall apart. Really great flavors on this dish. It was an exciting array of flavors.
The poached duck that I ordered was equally delicious. It came with a small piece of duck confit as well that was remarkable. We liked both dishes equally, and subsequently shared exactly equal portions. We just didn't care for the plates they were served on. Fairly blah, despite their hard-edged, oval plates.
Despite the blah room (though not as bright as it supposedly used to be) and bizarre location (though very convenient for us) - Urena really is worth seeking out. I think the chef is very talented but I think he needs to rethink his game plan on becoming a big player in the NYC dining scene...and that would start with a new location. It can be in the same neighborhood, but just not there. Otherwise, the food from our first visit was spot on and despite high prices, it isn't terribly overpriced.