Octopus Appetizer at The Urban Kitchen on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MAMany of life’s greatest moments are celebrated by going out to dinner; a new job, graduating, date night. We share these life accomplishments over a meal and libations with friends and family. We have become so conditioned to these moments that the food becomes an afterthought—usually, the meal itself is judged purely on the celebration’s intent and not its ingredients. It’s as arbitrary as it is detrimental to choose dinner as a ceremonious event.

This has become most apparent to me after several visits to the newly opened Urban Kitchen and Bar, in the former location of Coral Seafood, on Shrewsbury Street.

Worcester Foodies enjoying Chef Bowser's MenuTo start, Chef Bowser has taken the lead of a national food movement (which has also been adopted, and in some cases improved upon, by other Worcester eateries) to carefully select ingredients and techniques that the casual consumer (which describes a vast majority of us, myself included) would find “experimental.” Take, for instant the octopus appetizer. Traditionally, as prepared at Mezé, it consists simply as a tentacle grilled with high quality olive oil and dry oregano. Urban, instead, uses orange and a blend of sweet ingredients to bring out a light flavor with hints of honey and maple syrup which masterfully marries the chorizo potato hash with chiles and cilantro which it is served over. The flavors are unexpected and hard to pinpoint but prepare the tastebuds for the course to come.

A common observation for those who graduate past the first course is the portion size of the meals. Partly because they are plated beautifully on a large, white plate and partly because they are beautiful in composition, the meals are a journey of the senses. Admittedly, we’ve become conditioned to always want more in life; if we aren’t engorged at the end of a meal, we are obviously being taken advantage of. But in the case of the Urban, the flavors, appearance, and portions will leave you comfortably satisfied. Whether the house made pastas, the Pan Seared Bass, Arctic Char, Chicken and Dumplings, or even the more expensive (and admittedly smaller portioned) lobster, the flavors will leave you wondering, “how?”

When you go to Urban Kitchen and Bar expect to order an appetizer, expect to spend upwards to $30 for a plate, expect to spend a little more on your drinks, but also expect to have one of the most unique combination of flavors, ingredients, and, above all, dining experiences.

With meals so thoroughly planned, dining at the Urban should be taken as a journey from appetizer through dessert. When you go to the Urban be selfish because the food demands your full attention—make it your reason to celebrate.

Lobster tail dinner at Urban on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA