It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things meat, so when I heard that Raynold Mendizabal was going to open a butcher-themed restaurant in Silver Spring, my ears (and my taste buds) piqued with interest. Urban Butcher is the newest entrant in downtown Silver Spring’s restaurant scene, and it’s certainly one of the most interesting when you scroll down their long if not diverse menu.
Both a butcher shop and a full service restaurant, Urban Butcher features everything from steaks to crispy pig tails to… ratatouille? Why yes, surprisingly enough, the restaurant accommodates vegetarians quite nicely as they offer a handful of non-meat items, something which our vegetarian friend Katie was really surprised by.
We started the evening off with some capocollo from their meat cellar. The house-cured meat was delicious, and with one bite you can easily tell that this is what they excel at.
But what was more surprising was how good the ahi tuna and ginger ceviche turned out to be. For a place that specializes in meats, this was one of our favorite items of the evening. Light and refreshing, the sushi-grade tuna was beautifully presented in a shot glass situated in a mason jar of ice.
Meanwhile, the winter chicory salad was overly salty and probably the weakest dish of the meal.
The beef empanadas, however, are worth getting. Stuffed with tender meat in a delightfully crisp shell and accompanied with chimichurri, I could have had a trio of these for myself.
Just as good was the thick-cut house pastrami. Smoky and tender, my only qualm was the small-sized portion.
The grilled Brussels sprouts were another unanticipated hit. Prepared with soy butter and garlic, it’s one of the best preparations you will find in the area – right up there with Red Hen’s. A vegetarian’s, or even vegans, delight.
Our party couldn’t resist ordering the crispy fries, which were accompanied with a side of mayo for dipping, as it was a good dish for sharing amongst the table.
The four of us decided to split two desserts. The first was a chocolate soufflé with goat cheese gelato. While the soufflé itself was grand, the goat cheese flavor was too overpowering and didn’t really complement the chocolate as well as anticipated.
On the other hand, the churros were simply fantastic. Served with an orange-cocoa dipping sauce, the fried dough was exceptionally crispy and was easily the better of the two desserts we ordered.
And while Urban Butcher is relatively new, the kitchen really needs to work on the pacing of their dishes. As soon as we were halfway done with the charcuterie, the rest of our dishes came out at nearly the same time. It was a mad dash to try most of them while they were still hot. Meanwhile, the desserts took an extraordinarily long time to come to the table after we had ordered them.
Hopefully management is trying to remedy that as they are producing some quality food in the kitchen, let alone in downtown Silver Spring. I’d certainly make a return visit, just for that ceviche of all things.