It was a night of firsts - my first duck tongue and my first lamb sweetbreads.
I've always avoided offal, scarred by an unfortunate experience as a child when my mother tried to make me eat liver, but as Ubane owner Andrew Buchanan said, best to try it first cooked by a great chef - so I did.
Seated at a long table we were there to experience the new Urbane menu under Alejandro Cancino. He looks like he's just out of short pants, but this chef has a list of restaurants and awards on his resume that demand attention.
Passionate about fine dining, Argentinian-born Alejandro has spent the last 10 years working with some of the best chefs in the world, naming the great chef and innovator Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz in Spain, Luca Fantin at Bulgari Tokyo and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in England as his mentors. In Australia, he calls Dan Hunter at the Royal Mail in Victoria his local guide, having worked together at Mugaritz.
Last April Alejandro was Stagier Chef at Noma Restaurant in Denmark, which recently won best restaurant in the world for a third year running (World’s 50 Best Restaurants List) and he names his time at the revered and Michelin-starred Mugaritz Restaurant in San Sebastián, consecutive holder of 3rd position in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, as one of the most formative in his career to date. Four years ago he won Young Chef of the Year, UK.
For the past two years, he has been Chef de Cuisine at Bulgari Hotels & Resorts Tokyo Restaurants in Japan, where they won a Michelin Star during his tenure.
Here's what we ate
We started with a couple of teasers that weren't on the menu. First were two bowls - one with warm corn soup and the other with popcorn ice cream. I drank the soup from the bowl with finger fulls of the ice cream in my mouth. A wow experience.
Then the duck tongues delicately balanced on test tubes filled with duck consume appeared. Didn't stop to think too much about eating a duck tongue or I might have ended it there. It was actually quite crispy and tasty with a meaty flavour, delicious really, and quickly washed down by the soup.
Next was octopus, mangosteen, avocado and rye matched with a 2008 A Coroa Goello, Galicia, Spain. The octopus went from tender to crisp as it got smaller.
So here was my chance to try lamb sweetbreads cooked by a top chef. And they were good. I'm not going to be lining up for the next offal night but I won't shy away from it either (except kidney and liver - still - thanks Mum!). The oyster was plump and creamy.
Rainbow trout with paprika, yoghurt and quince - light and perfectly cooked.
Hidden under the rosemary foam in this dish was pumpkin gnocchi. The intense rosemary flavour of the foam was one of my faves from the night, combined with the tender gnocchi in a parmesan and rosemary sauce. Yep - they are rosemary flowers on top.
I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to get the bones out of these tender little chicken wings.
Lamb with sugarsnaps, watercress and horseradish. This dish was the favourite of Sake Chef Shinichi Maeda, who was sitting next to me.
So light and delicate, this dish was a bit of a wow with the tiny little apple and the delicate lemongrass and ginger sauce. Made from local Pink Lady apples.
Macadamia, chocolate and coffee.
The petit fours looked like something straight off the forest floor. Tiny sticks of peppermint bedded on crumbled green tea sponge.
Urbane's owners, strutting their stuff on the restaurant floor.
Bottom line: This is serious food that deserves to be explored and tasted.
Best tip: Keep an eye out for Urbane's special dinners for an extra boost to the experience.
Disclaimer: Eat,drink+beKerry was a guest of Urbane.