Urban Farmer is a “family” of three restaurants — one in Portland, one in Cleveland and one just a stone’s throw from Union Station. From the outside, Urban Farmer doesn’t stand out from the other brick-and-steel facades on the block. A line of seven or so umbrella-topped tables surrounded by a low fence divides the patio from the sidewalk. Even if you intend to eat on the dog-friendly patio, I highly recommend walking in through the corner entryway first to take in the restaurant’s midcentury-modern cowboy decor. While the reclaimed-wood tables and floors give off that rustic Western aesthetic, the rest of the large space is a polished blend of retro furnishings, penny tile and a marble-topped bar, similar to the look of the Kitchen, Mercantile Dining & Provision and other farm-to-table-chic restaurants built at about the same time.
With drinks maxing out at $6, including wine, a daily beer and four cocktail options, that’s where the real happy hour specials lie. My dining partner and I agreed to go halfsies on a simple daiquiri and a contrastingly complex Family Jones Distillery collaboration: a vodka, blueberry-hibiscus sake, lime, cranberry and ginger beer combo. As promised, the daiquiri harked back to the original delight of Havana — sweet, tart and oh, so boozy (no blended tiki-type drink here). I’m not sure if I was impressed by the other drink because its ingredients melded into a single refreshing beverage, or underwhelmed that it doesn’t hit more notes given its novel-esque recipe. Regardless, it popped with citrus (my style of drink) and went down smoothly.
Our fries ($6) came medium-cut, perfectly salted and even edible (high praise considering that I'm always apathetic toward fries) once they cooled off a little. If you’re doing a non-happy hour steak frites plate ($30 at lunch), you'd definitely be in for a good time.
A charcuterie board ($10, which is $2 off the regular price), while underwhelming in presentation, came with two kinds of speck, cut thicker than usual and offering a depth of flavor I found surprising. Like the base of the flatbread, the accompanying toast was not impressive on its own, though it may have been grilled in some sort of animal fat. We left none of it to waste, including an accoutrement of addictive giardiniera — but of our happy hour samplings, it's the one I'd most likely skip next time.
With no outdoor heaters for now, patio season is near its end at Urban Farmer. But for the next few weeks, you can find a simple but classy downtown happy hour outdoors before moving into a warm space with thoughtful decor.
Urban Farmer is located at 1659 Wazee Street at the base of the Oxford Hotel and serves happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. daily. Call 303-262-6070 or visit the restaurant's website for details.