Filipino food has wasted no time in becoming one of the year's top local food trends. The latest purveyor of the Asian-Pacific cuisine is Urban Heights from Robert Wiedmaier's RW Restaurant Group, which opens in Bethesda today.
Chef Cliff Wharton, the former executive chef of shuttered TenPenh and Matchbox in Chinatown, was born in the Philippines. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri when he was five, but the food continued to be a part of his upbringing. He'll serve lumpia, the Filipino version of the egg roll. But that's about as traditional as things will get: chicken adobo, another Filipino classic, is served as sliders. In the summer, he also plans to host pig roasts on the roof deck.
The menu isn't exclusively Filipino, but a mix of American and Asian cuisines. Many dishes feature a strong hit of wasabi: wasabi buttered popcorn, wasabi blue cheese guacamole, and XO honey-glazed shrimp with wasabi grits. Small plates make up a large section of the menu, but there are also entrees like a whole fried fish with a tamarind dipping sauce and shrimp red curry with pineapple (a throwback with a twist from Wharton's TenPenh days). A tuna bar located at the front of the restaurant will serve the fish in four different preparations: tartare, ahi poke, sashimi, and fried tuna roll with wasabi (!) sour cream.
Half the drafts will be devoted to Asian beers, and the cocktails (all $12) will take on an "island" flare with ingredients like coconut rum, sake, star anise, lychee, and guava. There's even a seaweed punch that includes exactly that plus gin, sake, lime, and egg white.
Urban Heights is Wiedmaier's second Bethesda establishment to open in just a week. Last Thursday, he debuted music venue Villain & Saint, which you can read all about in this week's Y&H column.
Take a peek at Urban Height's dinner menu below:
Urban Heights, 7940 Norfolk Avenue, Bethesda; (301) 312-8282; urbanheightsbethesda.com
Photos courtesy RW Restaurant Group