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Urban Butcher, Charcuterie-Centric Butcher and Restaurant in Silver Spring - Chef Raynold Mendizabal Comes from Lima and Rogue States, and Is in Financial Distress

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Not sure if my google skills have departed, or if I have really started two threads tonight.  We are always looking for a place that is open late.  So one night at 10pm, we tried it.  The decor is a.... melange of styles and motifs.

The meal as a whole was quite nice.  It was one of the more plesant dining experiences we have had recently.  But when I think back to the actual dishes, noneof them stood out as superb with the exception of a pate but the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

A decent, small beer list with about a dozin an tap, more in bottle and cans.  Wine list did not interest me.  I asked the waiter to ahve the bartender riff on a Sazerac, and I got a pretty straightforward Sazerac, nicely done but not outstanding.  Kay's Goose Island IPA was very nice.

We tried two cured meats {duckbreast and fennel sausage} and the aforementioned pate {pork with cranberry IIRC.}  The pate was superb and would have been better still if served with something as simple as a little mustard or mostarda to go along with the pate, a small pile of cornichons and a hunk of grilled bread.  The duck breast was fine, but I have had better product from Dartagnan.  The fennel sausage had a very odd, crumbly, dry texture that was borderline unpleasant.  This was unfortunate as the flavors were nice.  A salad of chicories seemed to be a conventional produce item, which surprised at a place that makes all their meat items in house.  There was a nice smattering of very good blue crumbles from a US artisan cheese maker, candied walnuts and orange sections.  The other dish we ahd was a total miss.... grilled calamari with salsa verde.  Not one part of the dish worked.

Desserts were a baked apple which was more of a apple shaped applesauce with a brulee crust in a creme Anglaise.  I was not a fan of the texture, but the flavors were super.  My maple & bacon gelato was shy on both bacon and maple, and was ice cream int he extreme and not gelato, but it was a fun, large portion.  Kay's apple came with a large wad of spun sugar and my "gelato" has a stained glass dripped sugar thingie on top.  There was more sugar in the garnishes than one person should eat in a week.  The spun sugar shattered when I tried to take a taste and it took overnight and several applications of shampoo to my quite bushy beard to get it out.

We chatted witht he GM and the Chef di Cusina who were very nice.  We cut off our waiter who introduced himself with the line "I'm Jason and I am here to guide you thru the menu tonight"  We said we had made our decisions and had a couple of questions... what is your favorite pate and what are your favorite two cures.  He had answered at hand which I appreciated.  But this is not a menu needing GPS or hand holding to understand.  Appetizers, entrees and lots of charcuterie.

If I had the free time, or on a night in the future when I do, we will return for a late bite.  The dinner was about $70 with tip.

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.  We cut off our waiter who introduced himself with the line "I'm Jason and I am here to guide you thru the menu tonight" 

Don't want to hijack this thread, but this "waiter monologue" business is getting out of control and really needs to stop. Listening to one makes me want to slam my head against the table, but interrupting the waiter makes me feel rude and it starts things off on a bad note. Plus, I find them condescending in general...I know how to read a menu, and if I have a question I'll ask. If your menu truly needs a guide, well, it's probably too complicated. Sorry, back to the discussion of an interesting new restaurant...

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Don't want to hijack this thread, but this "waiter monologue" business is getting out of control and really needs to stop. Listening to one makes me want to slam my head against the table, but interrupting the waiter makes me feel rude and it starts things off on a bad note. Plus, I find them condescending in general...I know how to read a menu, and if I have a question I'll ask. If your menu truly needs a guide, well, it's probably too complicated. Sorry, back to the discussion of an interesting new restaurant...

In almost every case, this is a server tactic used to highlight and sell specific items, not truly an attempt to guide you through the menu.  The restaurant where I was formerly employed brought in a service consultant, and that led to servers being taught that the proper way to greet a guest was to point out each of the very clearly marked sections of the menu (apps, salads, sandwiches, entrees, etc.) and offer one or two suggestions to expand upon.  I'm sure it comes as no surprise that these suggestions were often either the most expensive items of their category (most theoretical tip for the server), or the ones that cost the house the least to make (biggest profit margin for the restaurant).

Mind you, this was a very simple-to-follow menu that had maybe 30 items on it.  Ownership would actually advocate taking 2 1/2-3 minutes to describe as much as 1/3 of the menu to you.  I have no idea whether said restaurant is still actively partaking in this practice, because I haven't eaten or worked there in more than two years, but there you go.

A lot of menus do legitimately need some sort of explanation, but that's usually accomplished quickly.  If you're a small-plates restaurant, a recommendation on the number of plates to order isn't out of line, and very helpful for someone who isn't familiar with the size of the portions the kitchen is putting out.  But a full-on "guided tour" of the menu?  That's never helpful.  That's a sales pitch.  And unfortunately, the practice has become so common that I've taken to telling people in my opening monologue that the menu is pretty self-explanatory - I now have to tell people that they don't need me to hold their hand and tell them what to order.

By the way, helpful hint from a server: if you do get the server who wants to tell you the restaurant's life story, your out is to interrupt with "Actually, we've been here before."  Most servers will respond with "Oh, well welcome back!" and leave it at that, saving you from the whole song and dance.  The tables who haven't been in before are the ones that I can do the majority of my upselling to anyway, because they don't know anything about my restaurant, and are more receptive to my suggestions.  If you do get the moron who then still continues to trudge forward with explaining 40 different menu items, just stare blankly into space and leave him the 10% tip at the end that he will undoubtedly earn through the course of your meal.

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We went a few weeks ago and was generally satisfied with our meal. The pacing of the dishes, however, was not ideal. We had our cheese and salumi delivered to the table first, but maybe five minutes later, the rest of our dishes came out nearly at once. It was then a mad dash to try and eat them before they got cold. It also took forever to flag down our waiter after we had ordered dessert. Obviously they still have a few kinks to work out but overall it's a very promising spot for downtown Silver Spring. Who would have thought that a place that specializes in meats has a great tuna ceviche?

More here.

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I have been a bad DR poster and not mentioned this place.  I have been twice and had the calamari with salsa verde (which is certainly misnamed as it is chimichurri).  It was extremely good both times, so I wonder if they had a bad night.

I had similar problems getting garnish with my charc plate.  The server told me it came with cornichons and mustard but it came out empty.  She went back and got them though.

Anyway the food at this place is great but it sounds like the service issues are still present.

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We went for dinner last night and had a great time.  Our server, Yohanesse, was very attentive but not pushy.  He was very knowledgeable about the menu.  (He did not do the "I'm your guide" routine.)

The pacing was perfect and we really enjoyed the food.  We tried the following:

thick sliced pastrami--melts in your mouth

grilled calamari--perfectly tender

capocollo and smoked duck (the charcuterie now comes with mustard, cornichons and bread)

rib steaks with rapini and Brussels sprouts

chocolate souffle

The manager, Caroline, came by several times to check on us.  The chef was kind enough to let my BF into the charcuterie room for a picture.  He was beside himself surrounded by the deliciousness.

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Highlights from my visit

The awesome

- Smoked Lamb

- Liver Mousse

- N'duja

- Chocolate souffle with goat's milk gelato (Note- I wish my server or the menu mentioned the 10-15 wait time on it. I'm used to having to wait on a souffle so it was no big deal but the lack commentary about it made me wonder if urban butcher had found some secret to making a super speedy souffle. Turns out, no)

Pretty good

-Cheeses (Camembert, Cheddar and cream blue)

- Arugula and Strawberry Salad

- Bacon and Maple gelato (Dean I agree with you about it being ice cream not gelato)

Service was fine. We were served some iffy to bad wine but the server replaced it no problem. Cocktails were okay.

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I hope it reopens!  have been a few times and really enjoy it!

There was a fire on the roof of the building that houses Urban Butcher. From the looks of social media they are certainly intent on repairing and re-opening the business, from what I've heard they were doing well.

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The curing room escaped harm and the power to the restaurant was restored before the room temp could rise to unsafe levels. So, they've been selling charcuterie at the SS Farmers' Market. For the last few weeks, the've been "about a month away from re-opening". Nutty Buddy ran into Chef Reynald a couple of weeks ago and he said that the MoCo inspectors have been the main hold-up.

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Sorry, forgot to post this earlier. Talked to the guys out at the Silver Spring farmers market last week and they anticipate January re-opening. Now problem was with the insurance companies sorting out the claims on different pieces of equipment covered differently.

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They just sent out notice on Facebook that they would be having a re-opening party on Monday Feb 9. :D

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Finally tried this out last week. Quick reaction is that it is VERY good, but also VERY expensive.

Started with the butcher's board. The items served were all really good, so good that  I didn't get very much of  any of them. Our son monopolized everything, including the spicy stuff which he would eat, complain it was spicy, and then eat more. Wife was a little late in joining us so we told him we had to save it till she got there. His interpretation was "Wait till mommy gets here, then I can eat the rest." We also got three different sausages, merguez, pinot noir, and andouille. All three were really good and come with a nice pickled cabbage. The andouille was as promised and fairly spicy.

For entrees, we just got two things, the whole grilled fish which was branzino, and the dry aged ribeye. Both were fantastic, though they put butter on top of the ribeye, which if it's dry aged, I think is superfluous. Why go to the trouble of aging it and then smothering it in butter? Let the meat speak for itself. The fish was the best dish, grilled perfectly and nice flavoring.

Sides were a little disappointing. Brussel sprouts were nicely roasted, but the supposed soy butter didn't seem to add anything. Broccoli rabe was actually broccolini, which is probably better for the kids as they tend to find rabe a little to strong flavored compared to broccolini which is our daughter's favorite. Potato puree was very good. The disappointment was in the roasted root vegetables, half of which were burnt, but it was dominated by potatoes, which we were already getting in the puree.

For wine we had a nice Virginia red that we were told the vintner had held a tasting at the restaurant the previous week.

Will probably go back, but at the prices they charge, there's a lot of other options where I think I can get better value, though no place that does charcuterie like they do, so there is a value to the cost in that sense.

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Finally tried this out last week. Quick reaction is that it is VERY good, but also VERY expensive.

... The items served were all really good, so good that  I didn't get very much of  any of them. Our son monopolized everything, including the spicy stuff which he would eat, complain it was spicy, and then eat more. Wife was a little late in joining us so we told him we had to save it till she got there. His interpretation was "Wait till mommy gets here, then I can eat the rest." We also got three different sausages, merguez, pinot noir, and andouille. All three were really good and come with a nice pickled cabbage. The andouille was as promised and fairly spicy.

...

This is awesome--really funny. Though guessing wasn't as much for you at the time when hungry. Have to ask, how old is your son?  Maybe around 7 or 8?  If you say he's more than 16, I'll be more surprised.

BTW, 3 Little Pigs (also here and now known as Straw, Stick and something) does some very fine charcuterie also.  It's not as much a restaurant (and all with higher prices) but they do now have a pretty good lunch menu with soups and maybe a dozen different sandwich options.

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He turned three in November and has a voracious appetite, and will generally eat anything. It is a double edged sword, I'm proud of my kids that they will eat pretty much anything in light of so many of our friends kids being very picky eaters, but it also means that we don't always get to eat as much of some things we would like to.

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He turned three in November and has a voracious appetite, and will generally eat anything. It is a double edged sword, I'm proud of my kids that they will eat pretty much anything in light of so many of our friends kids being very picky eaters, but it also means that we don't always get to eat as much of some things we would like to.

Three?!  That's impressive. You'll like this.  You're not alone.  :)

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We finally made it to UB last night for the first time. We had a reservation for 8 -- fortunate because the place was swamped. Scored a parking spot on GA Ave just 1/2 block away, so the fates were on our side logistically. The space has changed a little since the re-opening (I'd not dined there before, but had visited one afternoon with a friend to check out the space just before they first opened). I recall there being sofas and/or lounge chairs near the front door. Those are gone and every inch of floor space is packed with tables by the front and high-tops just behind the host stand (before you get to the open kitchen and bar area). Every seat was taken. We were escorted into the rather austere dining room. Oddly, as busy as the place was, the two-top next to ours remained vacant.



We ordered drinks -- a glass of pinot grigio (meh) for the SO and an old fashioned for me. Now here it was the first day of spring and I would have expected to be ordering a g&t or margarita -- but no! We had snow in the morning and it was a chilly outside -- hence the old fashioned. And it was very good. Probably the best cocktail I've had in many months.



On to the starters: we shared the field greens with prosecco-honey vinaigrette and the Maryland blue crab and avocado salad (evoo/cilantro). The greens were lightly dressed and really good. The crab salad was one-note. There was no crab flavor, just cilantro and citrus came through, along with the avocado. I wonder if the crab meat was pasteurized, from Venezuela or some place similar. I know -- it's not crab season, so what can be expected? 



For mains: SO had the whole roasted  branzino with grilled vegetables, which she enjoyed. I didn't have a taste, but the fish looked to be cooked nicely, the flesh still moist in spite of the fact that the skin was almost totally blackened. I had the lamb shank, "slow roasted, like in Provence." It came with a fricassee of potatoes, olives and cherry tomatoes. It was disappointing. There was no evidence of the promised herbs de Provence, and the meat was not dry, but not succulent either -- just dull. Oddly, the prime flavor ingredient for both the lamb and vegetables tasted to me like Sriracha! There was no mention of this on the menu. Now I like hot sauces, and I like Sriracha (in pho), but this seemed remarkably out of place in a Provencal dish. The lamb shank was listed as "limited daily" on the menu, implying it was something special and in high demand. Our waiter informed me that I had snagged the last serving -- wish I hadn't been so fortunate!



It's just one visit. I haven't written it off, but I will certainly order differently next time -- maybe go the charcuterie route.


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Had dinner tonight. Seems to be our go-to when family comes in to visit, probably due to the sharing nature of many of the dishes, though it seems as I look at other tables, a lot of people get their own and don't necessarily share. What a loss for them.

Started off with the chef's board selection of cured meats. The ham was amazing with lots of nice fat interlaced with the meat. The assortment of salamis ,etc was very nice from a spicy chorizo to variety of salamis. Our son was in heaven.

Entrees were pretty much what we always get, steak, fish and sausages. Fish was fantastic, and in what seems to be different from last time we had it a couple months ago, it is now prepared by stuffing with onions, hot peppers, and seasonings such as fennel seeds. The meat around the stuffed section has a great flavor to it. Steak was a little disappointing. A lot of gristle that I found myself picking out of my teeth this evening after getting home. Although it's described as being dry aged for 60 days, it doesn't seem to have the depth of flavor I would expect from that length of time of controlled rotting. There is also a LOT of fat, and not marbling, but solid fat. For $60, I expect a little more from my steak. I only actually ate one of the sausages, but the kids seemed to enjoy the bratwurst and merguez. The chorizo which I ate was very nice and not too spicy, but still couldn't convince the kids to try it.

Sides were broccoli rabe, which I still insist is broccolini/baby broccoli, and not rabe. Was nicely charred and tasty. Whipped potatoes were OK, but a small portion and fires needed to be sent  back because they came out cold.

The strength continues to be the charcuterie which is consistently good to great. The fish is also stellar and with the modification on preparation now with the stuffing, even better. For the prices though, this continues to be an occasional place rather than a regular part of our rotation that I would like it to be.

One other thing, no need to go for happy hour as prices are essentially the same on the happy hour menu as the regular prices. for example, empanadas on HH menu are $5 each. Regular menu is $10 for two.

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

DC is not a big steak city; it's a big *chain* steak city. Other than Ray's the Steaks, what do we have? One local steakhouse does not a steak city make. 

Urban butcher in Silver Spring?

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Had dinner here with the extended family on Saturday night. The food was generally excellent - some highlights:

Lamb tartare - nice rich olive-y flavor.

Beef empanadas - my son demanded them, and they were very good. the filling/dough ratio was favorable, and the beef was very nicely seasoned.

For mains, we had the beef tenderloin and lamb picanha. Both absolutely fantastic. I don't normally order steak out, because I like to cook it myself. But this in another league - the tenderloin in particular just melted in the mouth.

The broccoli rabe was an excellent side - nice charred smokey flavor, and not too bitter. The brussel sprouts were al dente as advertised, and good if very oily. 

Only let downs were the fries, which were fine, and the tomato salad, which was a little underipe. But my fault for ordering tomatoes in May - don't know what I was thinking.

The only thing that would stop me rushing back was the bill - almost $500 before tip for 6 of us, including two kids and a designated driver. This place is a splurge in every way - many of the starters around $16, the wine list good but with few inexpensive options, and very generous amounts of fat and butter. But given the quality of the food, I would be happy to head back - especially if someone else was picking up the tab....

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So our son turned 6 yesterday and for his birthday dinner he wanted to go to Urban Butcher. For him the highlight was the charcuterie plate to start, so much so that we ordered an extra slice of pâté. He prefers that to birthday cake.

The main thing I wanted to report on here is the existence of an amazing early dinner menu from 5-7 daily and all day Sunday. There is a good option for a $35 steak frites which includes charcuterie plate and either a drink or dessert. We opted for the new Meat Mountain for two for $90, $5 less than regular price and including two drinks or dessert and the charcuterie plate, but an amazing deal either way.  It includes the 60 day dry aged ribeye, two pieces of chicken, lamb, pork, one sausage, broccolini, and potatoes. We also got the grilled fish. All pictured below.

23379860_10104448388071445_8181258094703

Amongst the five of us, 3 adults and 2 kids, we ate all except 3 pieces of sausage, one drumstick, and one slice of pork and everyone was stuffed. 

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