Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, March 27, 2003
Urban Tapas\r\nNori-crusted ahi tuna $10\r\nHazelnut cappuccino\r\n venison carpaccio $8\r\nTogorashi salmon $9\r\nSorbet of the day\r\n (Marionberry) $3
Miracles in Miniature

Urban Tapas takes small food to big heights.


Urban Tapas

62 Main St, Ste 200, Colleyville. 817-281-4068. Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm.

All major credit cards accepted.

aise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to order exclusively from the appetizer menu. Raise both hands if you’ve ever actually done it. Urban Tapas is heaven to people who want to try everything but still avoid feeling bloated and actually enjoy themselves. On a recent visit, my guests and I ordered meat, fish, seafood, and a salad, and not one single item was bad.

Tapas (Spanish for “small plates”) have been around for ages. They’re traditionally eaten for lunch or as a snack before a night of partying. Virtually thousands of bars and stands in Barcelona sell typical tapas such as empanadas (pastry turnovers), sautéed sweetbreads, or marinated squid. Nor are tapas a novel concept to Tarrant County. Pegasus has a tapas menu, and Hui Chuan Sushi, Tapas, Sake took the concept a step further by incorporating Japanese delicacies. If Pegasus and Hui Chuan are Gen X’ers to the Spanish tapas baby boomer, then Urban Tapas is the next logical incarnation, borrowing items from the sushi bar, the French bistro, and Chinese take-out. Urban Tapas also has an excellent selection of half-bottles of wine, a stellar decision perfectly suited to a broad array of meat and seafood tapas.

The menu is separated into sections: tapas (and salads), pizzas, and desserts. The items we consumed ranged from typical appetizers comprising a single item with a sauce to mini-entrées. The peppered lamb with a side of white bean and potato mashers infused with truffle oil was one of the latter. It assaulted the senses with the musty essence of truffle and the earthy scents of pepper and juicy lamb. It reminded me of the best morsels of a Frenched (trimmed rib) rack of lamb cooked on a rotisserie.

Another small meal was the nori-crusted ahi tuna with a big, fat mango-and-vegetable egg roll. Nori (seaweed) bumped up the flavor of the tuna, and the vinegary ponzu sauce added a sour kick to the savory fish. Togorashi (Japanese dried chilies) salmon with shiitake mushroom risotto and wasabe avocado puree also qualified as a tiny repast. Medium-rare salmon and hearty, creamy risotto formed a powerful duo of insanely strong flavors, each robust and unique. The creamy green wasabe-infused avocado was a late addition, compliments of Chef Alexander Kybott. We were grateful.

For the record, if Chef Alexander had walked through the restaurant while I was eating the venison carpaccio, I’d have hugged his neck and wept salty tears of gratitude. According to Nicole, our server, our venison loin had marinated in hazelnut cappuccino before being frozen. The chef then shaved paper-thin slices from the frozen meat and garnished them with arugula, parmesan cheese, and a few drops of hazelnut oil. The venison had an almost sweet flavor, tempered by edgy, bitter coffee. The hazelnut oil, bitter and buttery arugula, and thick curls or parmesan enhanced the dish without overwhelming the meat.

The rest of our meal was a delightful blur of duck marinated in Chinese five-spice powder and served with grilled pineapple; one four-bite prawn and one big scallop served with oyster mushrooms and wilted watercress; a portabella mushroom empanada with, unfortunately, not enough goat cheese cream; a vertical salad with layers of mango, crab salad, and greens dressed with a sweet rum and vanilla vinaigrette; and a rejuvenating Marionberry (a huge, sweet raspberry) sorbet.

Although my guest and I ate an unseemly amount of food, less decadent folks can easily get by with three tapas and a salad or dessert. The wine list has a good selection of decent red and white wines, starting at $19.

The restaurant is in a new Main Street, USA-construct of condos and shops. The décor is modern, with soft angles and curved hallways. The interior is painted a taupe/mauve color that shifts with the waning light of evening. The ceiling is detailed with a chrome runner that echoes the soft lines of the room. Our server, Nicole, was knowledgeable and unafraid to take our most picayune questions to the chef.

After many years of visiting new restaurants that eventually fold, I admit that I’ll light a candle and say a prayer for Urban Tapas. “Oh please, please, please let this restaurant make it!”

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