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Urban Kitchen - New restaurant where Ripps Grille was

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Remember Ripps? Well, I was driving in the area this week and noticed smoke pouring from the patio. Did a drive by and it's a smoker. Urban Kitchen restaurant has opened in that location in the past few weeks (same center as Pizaro Pizza, not to be confused with Union Kitchen a couple of miles down Memorial). The owner made some significant changes to the interior.

If anyone has been, I'd like to hear some feedback. Not that I'm trying to lure Doobs out of retirement, but he may be the most likely to have noticed it and/or have the intel. Yelp has a couple of rave reviews.

Here's the web:

http://www.urbankitchenhouston.com/

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  1. Urban Kitchen has no soul. Everything on the surface suggests a promising meal but the beauty here is only skin deep.

    Environment: Simple stylishness with warm wood mixed with contemporary design.

    Service: Disingenuously 'pleased to serve you.' Uninformed and inexperienced.

    First the hostess lead my party of five to a small booth. She asked if we wanted a chair for the end. I pointed out that the booth was on a raised platform 8 inches above the floor which meant the anyone sitting in the chair could rest their chin on the edge of the table. She moved us to a larger booth.

    Then there's the waiter. When I asked if one of the 3 flat breads could be modified I was told 'no.' I then asked, 'Why? Are they pre-made, frozen and just popped in the oven?' He responded, 'No, we make them fresh here but there is limited product for the flat breads.'

    Wha?!?

    Next...The waiter asked my wife if she wanted her soup and salad together. She said yes. They came separately.

    Next...The waiter accommodated our request for my youngest child's pasta to be either with marinara only (if available) or butter. Nothing else. He said he would bring the marinara on the side. What arrived was buttered pasta with meatballs in the bowl. Again...wha?!? Where the heck did meatballs come from?!

    Next...We were done with our dinner and having a conversation. The waiter comes by to clear the table. We are seated in a booth and he takes the few plates within his reach. He then stands there, hand outstretched waiting for me to hand him more plates. I am talking to my family so I ignore him. He then speaks up to ask me to pass him a plate. Very rude. Any waiter worth their salt knows to not interrupt guests in conversation.

    Next...He brings us our tab and does not include a copy of the credit card receipt for me to keep. I'll grant you this is a picky observation but is indicative of this waiter's lack of attention to detail.

    Finally the food: Blah. No flavor. No soul.

    It was all presented beautifully. There was promise in its appearance. But I left with the impression that the kitchen was more interested in making food that looked good rather than tasting good.

    I would say the biggest mistake the kitchen makes is not seasoning the food. Are they tasting what they cook? Where's the salt? Our table ordered the aforementioned buttered pasta (with the unordered mystery meatballs), the pasta alfredo, fish tacos, Caesar salad, tomato bisque and the 'baked spinach and artichoke dip.' Everything was VERY bland.

    The dip was a study in laziness. Most restaurants offering this dish serve up a bowl of rich creamy cheesiness stuffed with chopped spinach and diced artichoke hearts. Urban Kitchen's version goes like this. Take waterlogged chopped spinach and mix with quartered artichoke hearts straight from the can. Stir in a bit of cream (sourcream perhaps) and butter and perhaps a tablespoon of grated asiago or parm. Toss in oven til hot. The result was NOT a dip. The large pieces of hearts were difficult to maneuver on to a chip. Instead of thick cheesiness it was a liquidy mess. Dude, make your own bechamel, load it with cheese, chop the hearts, drain the spinach. It's NOT hard.

    Again, everything else was just blah. Soulless and flavorless.

    The family agreed. We won't be back.

    1. Seems the pros agree as to the lack of seasoning. Easy enough to fix. I'll wait it out though!

      http://www.houstoniamag.com/eat-and-d...