Television's pilot stage is necessary because even the most brilliant concepts sometimes don't work -- case in point, NBC's Poochinski, a drama about a streetwise cop reincarnated as a talking bulldog, only to be re-reincarnated as an out-of-work Peter Boyle. Testing a restaurant before taking it national, Urban, open Thursday in the Westin.
A prototype culinary concept from hotel-mgmt firm White Lodging, Urban delivers tweaked comfort food in an expansive 250-seat enclave: a classic dining room set off by wood beams, plus an enclosed wine room with three cookbook-adorned chef's tables, and a kitchen door you're encouraged to open and peek through -- like a horny middle schooler into the girl's locker room, except those are actually melons.
Mains range from Gouda/mozz/provolone mac & cheese (w/ celery, onions, peas), the Urban Pot Pie (chicken, turkey, duck, roasted veggies), and Meat and Potatoes (10oz filet, crushed Yukon Golds), to bolder moves like Shiner-prepped P.E.I. Mussels w/ shallots and shoestring fries, and penne/oyster 'shroom/garlic/chili flake Tiger Shrimp -- god only knows how many of those he's got running around these days. For pizza guys, they move from basics (cheese, margherita, meat) to the likes of smoked salmon (Boursin, capers, onion, sour cream) and the Campfire (BBQ chicken, black beans, spicy tomato); beefy sandwiches include the Urbanburger (BBQ''d onions, poblanos, criminis), and a cheesy steak-'wich with chimichurri, watercress, and hot tomatoes (the Potato Union is not going to like this).
To achieve booze-vana, there're 50 wines, beer on tap (including Shiner and Fireman's #4), and a shaken-or-stirred menu featuring a bacon-infused Bloody, and the Dripping Springs Vodka "Yelp Kool-Aid" -- good-natured contrition for Urban's misguided pre-pilot campaign, which apparently made geeky e-foodies' blood Boyle.