Sunday, June 27, 2010

Local 463 Urban Kitchen - Madison

You never want to see a restaurant go under but for whatever reason, Atlantica in Madison closed its doors a few months ago. Beyond that, I completely forgot about the location. I don’t regularly drive on 463 and my one meal at Atlantica was completely forgettable. Well, that’s changed. Carpe Jackson is back on the beat with her (or his?) Restaurant Openings Report and the new tenant Local 463 Urban Kitchen was on the top of the list. Apparently Local 463 is Derek Emerson’s, of Walker’s notoriety, new restaurant. While I’ve never gushed about Walker’s, it is a pretty solid meal, so I figured Local 463 would be worth a look.

Arriving early to beat the lunch crowd, I was apparently a little too early. Tables were still being set, the beer was being delivered, and the hostess was nowhere to be seen. The few minutes wait gave me a chance to soak up the atmosphere. I’m not really sure where the Urban in the name Urban Kitchen comes into play, but I suppose the liberal use of grey in the paint scheme conveys the message. Décor aside, while I was being shown to my table, I noticed a few familiar faces. I’d heard rumblings through Jackson that a lot of the staff from Nick’s, Bravo and other places were recruited for Local 463 and it appears the rumors were true.

I’d had a chance to look over the menu before I came, but I still hadn’t made up my mind. Indecision always makes for an interesting situation. This time it resulted in the first of the three appetizers.

Shrimp corndogs with a grain mustard-mango ketchup were the first on the table and they were not the auspicious beginning I was hoping for.

A little greasy, there was no real corn meal or corn taste to the batter, it was just shrimp on a skewer. Well, there might have been some taste of corn meal or shrimp if the ketchup hadn’t dominated everything. I wouldn’t have thought to mix mustard, mango, and ketchup but it needs to be paired with something less subtle than shrimp.

When I saw Truffled French Fries on the menu, it sounded too decadent to pass up.

Well, next time I will pass these up. The fries might have been cut in house, but they were horribly fried.

I was expecting a subtle amount of truffle oil, instead this spring was truffle oil with a side of poorly fried potatoes and the cheese was nowhere to be found. This is an instance of too much of a good thing, way too much.

The last of the three appetizers was an order of Braised Duroc Pork Belly.

Pork belly can be one of those ethereal dishes that you just can’t get enough of. Here the belly was tender and pulled apart with ease.

The kumquat marmalade really complimented the belly but the rest of the sauce just didn’t seem to match up. It was almost like there was a savory sauce and sweet topping without any real harmony.

As for the Falls Mill cheese grits? They seemed to straddle that line between too al dente and a rustic stone grind, but, regardless they were quite good.

When it came time to pick an entrée, I was at even more of a loss. The Super Kobe Burger and the Burger 463 both looked like sterling choices, but I was in a burger daze. I instead decided to satiate my beef riddled tendencies with the Dr. Pepper Braised Short Ribs.

Served with a stroganoff potato pave and crispy spinach, I was racking my brain to think of the last time I had seen beef paired with something sweet like Dr. Pepper.

Well, the ribs had certainly been braised as you could almost blow on them and they would fall apart. Annoyingly the exterior was dry, but the interior was moist and full of that beefy goodness that short ribs are famous for. One thing that was missing was the flavor of Dr. Pepper or any sweetness at all. Actually the best part of the rib was the small section that had been dusted with salt. It provided just enough salinity to really bring out the beef.

The stroganoff potato pave, while a nice compliment to the ribs, was unlike any stroganoff I had ever seen. The greens were also a bit odd, seeming more dehydrated than cooked.

Fortunately my dining companion had an itch for a sandwich and decided to satiate that itch with a Monte Cristo.

What is there not to like? Fudge Farm Ham, roasted turkey breast, gruyere cheese stuffed between two slices of bread, battered, fried, and dusted with powdered sugar.

I usually don’t associate turkey with sweets, but with the blackberry compote and powdered sugar, this was a fantastic sandwich.

I’m not exactly sure when Local 463 opened, but I imagine there are still a few kinks being worked out. A lot of the dishes needed a little something extra, but there’s a solid foundation here. There’s also a pretty brisk lunch business. I realize there’s still a new restaurant buzz to this place, but I was surprised at the crowds for a Thursday lunch. In the meantime, it looks like Chef Emerson has done well again, but only time will tell.

Local 463 Urban Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Falls Mill's grits are stone ground grits which lends itself to a coarser grit. You slam Local 463 but then say its a solid meal. Which is it? Why does it seem you only eat lunch out? shouldn't be be reviewing dinner as well as lunch?

Cynical Cook said...


-Thanks for background on the Falls Mill's grits, it makes a good sense in retrospect.

I never really "slam" Local 463, I just think a fair number of the dishes I had need some work. I still plan to go back and see if these were new restaurant jitters or consistent faults.

I really don't have a reason for most of my meals being a lunch meal. It just seems to work out that way. You're right, I should look at dinner as well as lunch, I just tend to cook dinner more than I eat out. That being said, shouldn't a restaurant serve equally good food and have equally attentive service at both meals?

Unknown said...

Friend and I ate there 7/10/10 pork belly appetizer and tamales were great. I had the dr. pepper breaised short ribs for dinner and it was ok. friend said beef fillet was great. Places was clean but a bit cramp as far as space goes. The only thing that i didnt like was that the lady at the reception area was not smiling and to make matters worse they sitted peopl without reservations ahead of us and we had a reservation. Then the young that sitted us seemed like she was not happy to be there at all. They also need to learn how to addressed people by their name especially if we had reservation instead of those people of there need to be seated

Anonymous said...

Had the short ribs tonight. Wonderful.

Unknown said...

Three of us went there tonight as usual the tamales and pork belly appetizers were good. Steak fillet was also good according to my friend and other friend had the blue fin sushi grade tuna lightly seared on all sides on a bed of medley of vegetables. Both my friend and I agreed that it was very good. As far as desert we all shared the bread pudding and the Pear tatin both serve with vanilla ice cream. Both desert were great. Only drawback is that the acoustics in the place is very poor. It was quiet noise in the restaurant. Other than that. IT IS WORTH HAVING DINNER IN THIS RESTAURANT

Bradley said...

I've been to Local 463 for both lunch and dinner services and have had good experiences both times. I have had the corn dogs, tamales, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and pork belly for apps; all were great but the corn dogs were kind of a disappointment. I had the cassoulet and the lunch meat loaf. Both were nice, although I felt like the cassoulet could have been seasoned better. I think this is a nice place, and I am a big Walkers fan. I'll be eating there again this week for dinner, good food, kinda pricey, but until Parlor Market opens this place has the freshest menu in town.