It is actually ridiculous to think that it took us so long to get to Urbanologi! The impressive restaurant has been making waves since it opened it doors a couple of years ago. With the reputation of being on the forefront of creativity and taste on a plate, it made sense that the next major step would be to look at sustainability, as well as promoting local businesses.
With the recent launch of #Project150, the brainchild of passionate Chef Jack Coetzee, Urbanologi sees that all core ingredients are sourced within a radius of 150 km from it’s location. Get some more insight into this project here: “Urbanologi Adopts A New Take On Fine, Eco-Friendly Food”
We were keen to see how this concept reflects on the menu. So off we went, ready to explore, on a sunny Saturday morning!
Firstly, a bit more about the location of Urbanologi.
Urbanologi is located at 1 Fox Street, an industrial-looking, inner-city venue. It shares the premises of Mad Giant, an award-winning local craft brewery. This is a classic and successful example of creating a special space, hosting a range of local business within the precinct. Read more here: https://www.1fox.co.za/
We arrived quite early, keen to check out one of the other spots at the precinct, but found that all the other venues were closed (so don’t go before 12 on a Saturday morning!).
It wasn’t a crisis though, because that wasn’t really our priority! Although Urbanologi/Mad Giant wasn’t open yet, we were kindly shown to the lovely, sunny patio area where we could try a few of Mad Giant’s craft beers so long.
Entering the restaurant area, with the space shared with Mad Giant, it is difficult not to be impressed by the venue.
The warehouse-like, industrial feel is perfectly balanced by beautiful murals, classic furniture and a relaxing ambience created by the huge windows and natural light streaming in.
We had a quick chat to Chef Jack, and I can actually kick myself for taking the time to have a proper talk to him about the restaurant, his vision and his new project #Project 150. The reason I say that? It got REALLY busy – very quickly! Which is always a good thing, isn’t it? Within the next 30 to 60 minutes Urbanologi was absolutely buzzing. Which is why I call the photo “The Calm Before The Storm”, because it surely didn’t last long.
Instead of ordering from the menu, we asked Chef Jack to share some of his favourite dishes, the ones he’d like us to try and what he is passionate about.
So hold on to your hats, it was quite a feast!
At this point, it is a good time to mention that the menu (as per the information shared in the link above) is divided into six categories that aligns the menu items with the various relationship suppliers, for example Butcher, Baker, Brewer, Fishmonger, Green Grocer and Dairy. It also shows how far the food ‘traveled’ and which area it comes from. Syncing 100% with the drive to source produce from within a 150 km radius from the restaurant. I do apologise for the quality of this photo, but it will give you a good idea of what I’m referring to.
So moving on swifty.
It is quite the standard to whet your appetite with some freshly baked bread and butter. As per the menu details, the freshly baked ciabatta came from one of the business within the 1 Fox Street precinct. Yes, some may say that indulging in freshly baked bread is bound to spoil your appetite, and we nearly did because it was just so good! So what made it so noteworthy?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that freshly baked bread is just heavenly, but did I mention that it was served with “farm butter“?
Fresh farm butter is of course a delicious treat, but the Urbanologi take on it is full of smoky and citrus-rich goodness. Seriously divine! That something as supposedly simple as bread and butter can be elevated to this level shows some serious passion and taste. I finished every last bite of it!
Next up, our first duo of dishes.
I must just mention that I’m not a huge beetroot fan. But the beetroot cured salmon trout was so tasty, so well complimented by the pickled veggies and crispy trout skin, that it didn’t bother me at all. No flavour or texture was overwhelming the others in the dish, all just worked so well together. The presentation was also beautiful, don’t you agree?
The tempura shimeiji dish was equally fun to eat. Dunking the crispy fried mushrooms in the delicious and intensely-flavoured garlic relish was just so good. It is a perfect dish for sharing. Don’t bother with cutlery, just dig in.
Next up, Beer Battered Fish (Tilapia) with Grilled Asparagus.
As with the salmon trout, the freshness of the fish is key. The texture was soft and flaky and the chunky tartare sauce was super tasty. Try to eat this dish as hot as possible though, because when it gets colder it doesn’t do the dish full justice due to the change in texture. Get it right and this is another great combination of taste, favour and texture. Yes folks, you can just assume that it is the case with all these dishes, because the composition of the dishes were absolutely on point.
Fresh asparagus is always such a treat! I personally don’t know how to prepare it properly at home, so it was just divine to taste this dish! Like with the tempura shimeiji above, I can easily have this as a vegetarian meal and not miss having a ‘meaty’ accompaniment at all.
And still we soldier on! Here comes the last of the main dishes, Lamb Belly and Roasted Carrot.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful and colourful these dishes are?
The lamb belly roti is exactly as juicy and tasty as you can possibly imagine it to be. I actually can’t recall if I’ve ever had lamb belly before? So succulent, with the harissa and roasted peppers simply elevating an already delicious dish to the next level. Divine!
That roasted carrot though. Urbanologi will turn me vegetarian, if I can eat there every day. This is just the most beautifully presented dish I’ve seen in a very, very long time. I could not stop taking photos. I mean, just look!
Again, to elevate relatively simple ingredients to this level, is just inspiring! The carrot was really tender and it tasted as if a bit of cinnamon was added to the butternut mash dollops. When it was originally placed in front of us, I thought it was some kind of sausage, simply because it is so beautifully roasted and grilled.
After a bit of a palate cleanser (a lovely guava mimosa ice), we were ready for dessert! Okay, let me be honest, I forced myself to save a bit of space for something sweet. I was glad I did!
Banana, beer and chocolate – what more do you want? Deliciously sweet and decadent. I would’ve bought a tub of the gelato to take home with me if I could!
What a wonderful lunch! A HUGE thank you to Chef Jack Coetzee for this special invitation, every single bite was a treat!
Read more about Urbanologi here: http://www.urbanologi.co.za/ and do make an effort to check them out. I already have my next meal planned in my head! I spotted a Duck Scotch Egg and Pork Cheek Steamed Bun with my name on it!
I am very glad that you’re still here, I’m usually not a fan of very lengthy blog posts, but as you saw, there was a lot to share – I couldn’t help myself!