Nationally celebrated chefs open new restaurant, cafe in Bozeman

By Katie Thomas EBS Contributor

BOZEMAN – On a recent October evening, two old friends made time to catch up over dinner. The occasion called for a jovial atmosphere with a variety of menu options, which is why the diners decided to try Bozeman’s most recent gastronomical development, Urban Kitchen.

Occupying a space downtown in the striking new 5 W. Mendenhall St. building (where Opportunity Bank and its metal antelope once stood) Urban Kitchen is an upscale restaurant that serves dinner seven days a week. Owners Joe and Megan Romano opened Urban Kitchen and adjacent Salted Caramel Café this fall when they relocated to Bozeman after making a splash in the New York and Las Vegas food and beverage industries at restaurants like Aureole.

We started our culinary adventure in Urban Kitchen’s vibrant and intimate bar. We sampled a riesling and the Red G Hound, a less sweet relative of the cosmopolitan made with grapefruit-infused vodka, while taking in the mirrored bar and colorful bottles climbing to the ceiling. We noted the Bar Bites menu, available from 3 to 5 p.m., but chose to save our appetites and finish our beverages. Then we moved on to the table, where the dining atmosphere evokes a ’70s lounge, with dim lights, slanted paneling and smudged mirrors.

Urban Kitchen’s cuisine is billed as “progressive American cuisine.” Depicted is the chicken and pink shrimp paella, which is served with saffron-scented rice. PHOTO BY KATIE THOMAS

Although there were only two of us, we decided to try two appetizers—the fried calamari, delicious and crunchy, and the garlic shrimp over polenta, creamy and plentiful. One of our entrée choices, the pork saltimbocca, was amazing: bacon-wrapped and served with garlic spinach in a brown sage butter, this entrée was filling and worth the price. The chicken and shrimp paella, while a bit overwrought, packed a walloping punch in a spicy, good way. And for the oenophiles out there, Urban Kitchen has an extensive wine list.

But the main event was the desserts: directly from the Salted Caramel Café next door, the Nutella Bomb was a dizzying and sweet concoction served with a delicate, house-made peanut brittle; and the classic creme brulee with house-made biscotti and a pile of fresh blackberries marked the end of a most interesting meal. The bill arrived in a little notebook, where patrons are encouraged to write a comment, question or message, à la guestbook.

The Romanos consider their menu, which has been developed over years of culinary experience, to be “progressive American cuisine.” They are ecstatic to be bringing their creations to Bozeman, and value supporting local farms and ranches wherever possible.

Bozeman native Grant Dobbie, the general manager, says the name Urban Kitchen is the perfect summary of their mission. “We want to make people feel at home … and deliver the quality of food you’d experience in an urban setting,” Dobbie said.

Urban Kitchen has succeeded in creating a welcoming atmosphere with a classy, eclectic tone, where diners can experience elaborate yet accessible cuisine. Urban Kitchen is open Sunday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m. Reservations are recommended.