Before you get to Vagabond, White Room, Karu & Y or Bar, you've gotta pass a joint called Urbanite. And these nights, most folks stop in there at least for pre-club drink if not for a bite. It's one of those pretense-free eateries -- slick without being stuck-up. And it's got a low-key cat handling much of the action who's quickly becoming one of the most popular guys in the neighborhood. His name isClaude Hogan, and he's a large part of the reason why more and more people are calling Urbanite one of their favorite hangouts.
You're handling much of the action at one of NoDo's hippest restaurants. How'd you find yourself at Urbanite anyway? Chance really. I was given a great opportunity by Urbanite to advance in my new career as a bartender as well as the ability to advance my career even further into management.
Urbanite's chef Frank Imbarlina has put together what's perhaps the most exotic menu of any restaurant in town. Can you name a few favorites to give folks an idea just how exotic? The Moroccan Lamb Sliders -- served with tomato, harissa mayo and tabbouleh. The Red Deer NY Strip -- served with a grenache and shallot reduction, wild mushroom risotto and truffled salsify and gold beets (my favorite dish). Or how about the Braised Natural Saddle of Rabbit -- stuffed with cape gooseberriesand baby spinach with hoppin' johns and sauteed tricolor carrots. Many of the accompaniments and sauces change regularly along with the proteins because many of them are seasonal.
Urbanite's also got a rather extensive beer and wine list. Can you please name some of the most popular (and tasty) of each? Brooklyn Local 1, a Trappist style, re-fermented ale. By far my favorite beer in the building. We also carry Rogue Dead Guy Ale, definitely the favorite by popular demand. As far as wines are concerned, a house favorite and interesting one is the Maison Bouachon Gigondas. A product of France, considered a little brother of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Of course this one is a harmonious match for venison and wild boar.
Urbanite's owner Elliot Alexander is big on local artists and every six weeks he unveils a new show. Who's showing now and who's coming up? The artist on the walls now is Dennis Carbee. He sculpts polished metals into kaleidoscopic mirror style art -- very interesting, and not your average canvas. Who is next? Well we'll see about that. The art stays up for six weeks and just went up. So someone needs to catch Elliott's or Frank's eye within the next couple of weeks.
Besides managing Urbanite, word is you've got a degree in zoology and have a not-so-secret dream. Care to explain what that dream is? My dream is easy. When I decide to grow up, all I want to do is teach high school science. Some of the most important people in my life when I was young we're my high school teachers. I just want to be that for a few kids who would care for some direction. Life experience for me first. ... then I'll grow up.
Rumor is you also have some kinda automotive hobby. Can you elaborate? I was a Toyota performance mechanic for six years in California at a little shop called E.L. Prototypes. I still love gettin' greasy and bustin' knuckles! Especially if it's going to go faster when I'm done.
You spent 11 years as a lifeguard in California, nine of those L.A. County Lake Lifeguard. Do you still frequent the beach? And if so, which one(s) and why? I love going to any beach. But if I had to pick one, I'd have to say Huntington Beach. So Flo's got no waves man! Ok, South Beach is a real close second ... and if you don't know why, you need to go there. Hint: the ladies.
I know Urbanite gets a lot of the local club crowd. Which club(s) do you like to hit after work and why? 14th Street actually has everything I need within walking distance from work. If I want a club scene, Vagabond is right next door. Bar night, we got Bar right next to Vagabond. And to chill, drink a couple good beers, and have a snack, which is really my flavor now a days, DRB is right down the street.