Urban Solace in San Diego
Hello. Been having lunch (5 so far) and dinner (1 so far) at new joint near my apartment.
So far everything has been amazing. Brandt Farms burger (cheap too!) and braised beef joe are awesome.
Desert not crazy about but food is amazing for the prices. Lobster pot pie to die for.
Check this place out.
We've passed this place a couple of times - I thought it was a coffee place. Thanks for the recommendation - we'll give it a try soon for lunch!
I was in the neighborhood today and had lunch with a friend at Urban Solace. Absolutely loved the space, from the richly burnish brick wall to the deep wood finishes and the soothing and inviting patio, to the beautiful stained glass windows framing the front of the building. Stylishly elegant. The lunch menu offered up an exciting array of choices as did the drink menu. Feeling like we wanted to try everything we decided to split the hard pear cider that was on tap, an arnold palmer iced tea and a fresh lemonade. The arnold palmer was served with a small pitcher of simple syrup for sweetening to taste, the lemonade was great and the pear cider refreshing. Off to a good start.
A pile of cheese biscuits with orange honey butter was listed among the starters and sounded so enticing we threw caution to the wind and decided to order those as well. 5 small, square biscuits were set between us accompanied by an enormous crock of orange honey butter. The cheese biscuits were quite good and contained nice bits of green onion. The butter provided a note of sweetness on the front end but was, unfortunately, overwhelmed by the orange on the finish. In fact, the orange peel in the honey butter was so strong it was bitter and it definitely did not do a thing to enhance the cheese biscuits. Quite simply, the green onions in the biscuits and the orange peel in the honey butter were not compatible. We greedily finished off the biscuits but passed on the butter. I'm guessing the chef was trying to go for the complimentary combination of sweet and savory, but I don't think orange is the right compliment. Do not hesitate to order the biscuits though, they can stand on their own without adornment. They are also available a la carte by the each for $1.25.
My friend had the Monte Diego a playful and updated version of a Monte Cristo. The sandwich was very, very good with nice slices of ham, turkey, cheese and pear. There was a little souffle cup of either apple butter or pear butter that did add a really nice accent to the sandwich.
I had the braised short rib joe, a riff on the sloppy joe. I really, really wanted to like this sandwich. I give the chef an "A" for creativity but the execution was a bit off. The meat was very tender and devoid of any fat. The bun on which it was served nicely toasted. But the sauce on the meat just didn't do it for me. The first bit I took, the meat tasted more like an Italian sausage than short rib or sloppy joe. The strong spice in Italian sausage is usually fennel seed, and my guess would be that fennel seed may have been used in the sauce. If that is, indeed, the case, they need to cut it back a bit. I had my friend (a chef by trade) try the meat as well and the first words out of his mouth were "too much fennel". By no means did the fennel ruin the sandwich, but it was enough of a flavor clash to be a little disconcerting.
Both plates came with a very generous portion of delicious, crisp and golden sweet potato fries. Interesting thing, I can eat french fries all day long, but I couldn't eat that many sweet potato fries, perhaps because the texture is more dense and it takes fewer to satisfy. In any event, they were a pleasant change of pace.
We skipped dessert because we were too full. Our total bill, 3 drinks, the cheese biscuits, 2 sandwiches, tax and tip came to $36. Prices are ridiculously fair, especially in light of the quality of the food served and the portion sizes. Service was pleasant and attentive and our server answered every question we had.
Urban Solace has only been open a couple of weeks according to our server. Though I think they're probably still tweaking their recipes and getting some kinks worked out, they're doing a lot of things right already. Even though everything we tried didn't quite work, it didn't miss the mark by much and both my friend and I were very pleased with our meal. I'm going to try and go back for dinner next week if I can. When Urban Solace really hits it's stride it will be a deliciously sophisticated addition to the growing number of interesting restaurants in North Park.
I would seriously encourage everyone to go and at least try this place once. I think you'll like it, we sure did.
We also had lunch today at Urban Solace in North Park, which bills itself as serving "new American comfort food."
Since I agree with many of the DiningDivas comments above, I'll keep this brief. We started with the Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip served with baguettes. It was very good, sweet but with a heat that built slowly. Like the Dining Diva, I also had the braised short rib joe sandwich. The first taste was a surprise and I too attributed this to fennel seed, but overall I liked it pretty much but would probably order other items in the future. The accompanying sweet potato fries were very yummy -- sweet and salty -- but a few go a long way. My companion's Mac and Cheese (with carmelized bacon and charred tomatoes) was a nice upgraded version of the classic. We too skipped dessert.
We loved the feel of the interior, comforting, fairly minimalist, sophisticated. Only three tables were occupied when we were there, but even then the music and the conversations from the staff behind the bar were bouncing around the space. Since there is not a sound-absorbent surface to be had anyplace, this place is going to be very noisy when busy. For diners preferring a quieter environment, the patio may be a better choice.
There are many other items on the menu that sound intriguing and we will definitely go back.
We too went there this weekend. It was a mixed review. After having waited 40 minutes (they said a 20 minute wait, but they're small and new so I don't fault them) they offered us to sit outside because they did not know how much longer it would be. They admitted the seats were not near heat lamps, but we decided to freeze because we were starving (and noted that the patio was quite empty so we could have sat there from the get go).
Some folks ordered soup, I ordered the butternut squash and goat cheese dip. The soups came and were tasty, but lukewarm, which was quite a disappointment because we were looking to warm up. About 20 minutes later, I inquired about the dip and was told that it wouldn't be coming out until after the entrees (???) so I cancelled the order.
I had the chicken and dumplings, which was tasty, but not spectacular and quite a small portion compared to the rest of the entrees. Someone else had the lobster pot pie which was quite yummy. The salmon BLT was also a hit. The waiter offered us a dessert for free due to the dip issue, which I thought was nice. We had the peanut butter and chocolate creme brulee. It was quite tasty. However, the chocolate layer at the bottom of the dish was quite watery. So visually a little off, but the taste was divine.
Another complaint is that the website said that they validate parking at the lot across the street, the waiter confirmed it and "validated" the parking ticket. When we got to the gate, the attendant said "we don't validate for them" and we had to pay $5. I think this was an issue with the parking lot and not the restaurant, but it did leave a bit of a bad taste in our mouth on the way out, because we would have found street parking if not for the representations of validated parking.
Overall, an enjoyable place and I think it will be quite good once the kinks get worked out.
Went to Urban Solace today for a late lunch/early dinner. They serve the lunch menu until 5 pm. It was very quiet while we were there (about 4 pm). We shared the sweet potato fries, which were yummy. My SO had the cheese sandwich with tomato fennel soup, which he loved. The sandwich also came with the sweet potato fries, so the server offered him a side salad instead - a nice touch. I had the vegetable pot pie, which was creamy and decadent and quite flavorful.
We're both looking forward to returning and trying more of the menu!
Well, I said I'd go back for dinner, and I did. Last night.
Still like this place. The table shared the butternut squash and goat cheese dip, which was very good. We all absolutely LOVED the cornmeal crackers that came with it, they were really addictive.
We had 2 orders of Mac and Cheese with carmelized bacon and roasted tomatoes that were deemed to be just about perfect. My brother-in-law ended up with the Hangar Steak with housemade steak sauce which he liked. I managed to get a taste and it was good. The meat was cooked exactly as he had ordered it and was tender with good flavor. I had the cinnamon brined center cut pork chop which I liked though it was a little bit overcooked. The corn cake accompaniment to the pork chop was fabulous, almost better than the pork. Even though we didn't order the maple and cider glazed chicken, the table across form us did. It was extremely fragrant and the 2 gentlemen ate it with great gusto.
We did try dessert. I had the sweet key lime pie and was happy with that choice. The chocolate lava cake is a good choice for chocoholics, which the 2 people that ordered it at our table are. And finally, an order of the butterscotch pudding. I liked the pudding a lot, though I think the flavor could have been a little more intense. We all really liked the almond cookie that came with it. It was more like a cross between nut brittle, a praline and a lace cookie and it was a good match with both the smooth creaminess of the pudding and the butterscotch flavor.
Wine prices are nice and fairly easy on the pocketbook. My BIL is knowledgeable about wine and discussed most of the reds with our server who was fairly knowledgeable herself, and what she couldn't answer she went and got answers from someone who did know.
Urban Solace is shaping up to be a really nice neighborhood restaurant.
They've only been open about 3 weeks. The server shared with us the "cheat sheet" that their wine rep put together for them and it listed some items that are not currently on the menu. I would suspect they're going to rotate in at some point.
For a restaurant this young they're doing a lot of things right, but they've still got some kinks to work out. The food for our dinner last night was more consistent and successful than lunch was on Saturday...and I liked lunch. So far everyone that I've eaten with there has had the same reaction to the menu -- "hey, this all looks good, I want to try it all". There are so many interesting choices it's just been really difficult to choose.
Honkman, I would really encourage you to give it a go and see what you think. It is certainly not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they are doing a pretty good job. It's not fine dining, and not pretending to be. It's good food prepared with solid cooking skills, served by a young and earnest waitstaff, and at reasonable prices. I wish we had something like this in my neck of the woods.
I was also introduced to a new drink last night that I thought was quite tasty, a Snakebite. Made with half pear cider and half Guiness, remarkably good.
I went yesterday for lunch - very good. We tried four things - cheese biscuits, the iceberg wedge with bleu cheese, the burger and chocolate peanut butter creme brulee. The biscuits were light inside and had a nice crust, the butter was perfect - not too sweet. The wedge was crisp and the dressing delicious - nice spiced pecans and marinated onions. It was least as good as the one they serve at Jack's (almost identical, now that I think about it.)
The burger was perfectly cooked, juicy Brandt beef, great bun - it came pre-dressed though, and had a little too much sweet stuff on it - sweet bbq sauce, grilled onions, etc. I would have preferred a little bite to cut the richness, maybe some sharp mustard and pickled onions.
The creme brulee sounded over the top but was delicious. Bittersweet chocolate pot de creme bottom, peanut butter custard (I detected a little tang, maybe creme fraiche) and a perfect crust. Good coffee too! I am looking forward to going back for dinner.
The Zaca Mesa wine dinner menu looks great, and is a bargain at $39! It's on Monday the 12th.
re: Alice Q
Alice, did you think the orange honey butter went with the biscuits? The day I had them the butter was one of the few jarring notes in the meal. We thought the biscuits were excellent, but the butter was too bitter, perhaps from too much orange zest. For us the honey butter didn't match at all with the biscuits. It sound as if they may have fiddled with the butter enough to get a somewhat better balance of flavors.
Went there for brunch 2 weekends ago (just before the fires) and was so very very pleased! It's a Bluegrass brunch, and though we were sitting outside and *right* in front of the band, it wasn't too loud or obnoxious. My SO and I love bluegrass, though, so for those with an aversion to banjo, a table inside would be recommended.
The food was very good - some of the same items from the lunch menu, I noticed, but also a selection of breakfast food. I had the Monte San Diego (kind of a Monte Cristo), which was excellent and was served with a side of not-too-sweet preserves that tasted homemade. It had the sweet potato fries on the side (note: I asked for some of the Maytag blue cheese dressing to dip the fries into ... Yummy!!). SO and another friend had the biscuits and gravy, which was delish. The biscuts were sliced in half and griddled, so it almost looked like toasted baguette. Strange, I know, but they sure tasted good. The other friend at our table had some sort of flapjacks, but I can't remember exactly what the dish entailed. Positive reviews all around.
Now, in my world, brunch cocktails are essential to the experience ... so we definitely made sure to sample some! The Bloody Mary was good. A bit of a kick but not too much. No celery stalk - I kind of missed it, but overall the cocktail got a thumbs up. The mimosa was nice, but the mojito was below average. Not enough mint and too much soda water.
We just loved the place. Having lived for a short time in New Orleans, this is the closest thing I have found in San Diego to the NOLA Sunday Brunch, complete with the right kind of music! The ambiance is very French Quarter with the wraught iron balconies and all. We'll be back for lunch and dinner.
I made my way there last night with BF and some friends. It was a very good meal. We called ahead to see about the wait and were told it was a 40 minute wait, but the patio was open. We grabbed jackets and headed over. I liked the patio, except it was very dark. The hostess brought a couple of candles, which helped a little. I couldn't really see what I was eating (shapes, but not color), so that was a bit of a disappointment. Our server seemed to be quite busy and rather absent, but another server and the hostess covered our table, so we felt like they took good care of us. They were a bit slow in bringing out the food, but not an outrageously long wait, by any means. I'll do a quick run-through of the meal:
House burger- BF thought it was perfectly cooked and the sweet potato fries were a great accompaniment. They weren't incredibly crispy, but it's hard to do really crispy sweet potato fries.
Lobster pot pie- the pastry was crispy and the filling tasty, but I didn't detect any fennel in the pastry, nor was there a lot of artichoke or lobster for a good-sized pie. There were lots of cubes of vegetable, which I'm pretty sure were carrots. Like I mentioned, I couldn't see color at all, but they were crunchy and a little underdone for a pot pie. The chunks of lobster were quite good and a little sweet. The warmed frisee salad was delicious with cooked tomatoes and a bit of olive oil.
Mac 'n' cheese- BF and I shared a side portion of this and it was great. The charred tomatoes and bacon added a nice touch to a well-made mac 'n' cheese. I like it best with sharp white cheddar and that's how it's done here.
Yellowtail BLT- our friend said the fish was overcooked and a bit dry, but it wasn't a bad dish overall. Also accompanied by the sweet potato fries.
Creamy tomato/fennel soup- interestingly presented in a jar and topped with a large crouton and a drizzle of creme fraiche. Our other friend, who wasn't very hungry, ordered soup and dessert (key lime tart). She thought both were great.
Desserts- Peanut butter/chocolate creme brulee was great (three of my favorite things in one dish... I couldn't pass that up). The custard was a bit dense, but I didn't expect a light custard when peanut butter's involved. The chocolate cake was really small and we didn't think it was worth the $6 price tag. It was good, though. The key lime tart was excellent and my friend really liked it. I thought it was very fluffy and the lime flavor was fresh and light.
All in all, we had a great time and would gladly come back again. I think we'll try the bluegrass brunch one of these weekends.
Had lunch on 3/17, not quite in keeping with St. Pats day. Got the side of mac n cheese along with spinach salad. Both were quite good. Service was prompt. Gave the wine list a quick once over; anyone with a Dare Cab Franc gets a vote from me. Will be going back, want to give the fried egg sandwich a try.
I've been in and out of like with this place.
Sometimes it's on the mark and other times, parts of my food are cold or too salty, and the key to a good restaurant is consistency. Also, the staff should be more responsive than just feigning interest when you have some constructive criticism.
I didn't care for the lobster pot pie, but I enjoyed other things. The Seared Albacore Chop Chop is tasty. So are the Braised Beef Cheeks and the Chicken and Dumplings.
They used to have an amazing chocolate cake drizzled with mint and basil! And it's now gone... I've brought this to their attention several times to see if they get the hint to get it back, but if I have to come on here and make a scene - so be it.
Bring back that Chocolate Cake! You couldn't get this anywhere else and it was unique to this establishment. And when you do that, get the chef a crème brûlée torch. I hate cold, pre-made crème brûlée!
I know what you mean about the food. I've been twice now, and once everything was fabulous. And a bartender who pours healthy tequila shots? I'm IN! So I went back with some girlfriends to celebrate my birthday. We shared the butternut squash dip and an order of biscuits. Loved both of those. They've apparently fine-tuned the butter situation. Three of us ordered the burgers - medium rare, and the other ordered the mac & cheese. The burgers were good, but NOT medium-rare. While our server was great in every other aspect, his comment about the burgers was "I guess the chef needs a little time to warm up". O-kay. At least they seemed to have worked on the overly sauced and sweet flavour Alice Q. experienced. The sweet potato fries were delish. My friend found the mac & cheese to be tasty but "runny". Since she usually eats half her meal and takes half home, I'm guessing it was probably much better the next day. We were all too stuffed to handle dessert, but if I go back, I'll be sure to ask if they have THE chocolate cake. :-)
Funny Illustr8ing should mention SALT--my husband and I had lunch at Urban Solace today. I ordered (as usual) the biscuits with orange/honey butter which I've had about ten times now. It was SALTY!!!! I explained to the waiter that it was salty and way different from usual. He brought another butter serving and said to try it to see if it was the whole batch, or just the serving I got first time around (is this my job?)
This second serving was as salty as the first, so he took it back to the chef and came back and said the chef thanks us for pointing this out--there was indeed way too much salt!!
My seared albacore and avocado, however, was yummy, and my husband's sloppy joe and sweet potato fries were perfect. We'll go back--there are just wierd glitches there sometimes!
First visit to Urban Solace. My chef man and I were thrilled to find a new place for our long, late lunch on his day off. Wine list was first good sign: reasonable and interesting. We ended up with O'Brien Seduction, a cab-cabfranc-merlot blend, that was outstanding. We ordered mostly appetizers just to try as many things as possible. From the menu we could tell there was plenty of thought going on; eating was the proof in the pudding. Great biscuits (I forwent the butter. They didn't need it.) Excellent watermelon salad: this one with basil, arugula, tomato and cuke. Raisins and pinenuts were overkill and spoiled the look of it. But we ate every bite. Terrific sweet potato fries, and the Portabello Sandwich -- usually a dull nod to meatlessness-- was a thrilling combo of flavor and texture. Only real miss was a dismal Red Velvet Cake which wasn't Red, Velvet, or much of a cake. Mostly stale chocolate nibs. We can't wait to come back for dinner.
urban just celebrated their one year anniversary and has updated the menu with a few new selections. the seafood stew was pretty impressive, a rich tomato broth laden with arctic char, cod, mussels and shrimp. some diners next to us ordered the crab pop tart, which looked so delicious we were sad we hadn't ordered it for ourselves. next time!
they also brought back duckaroni by popular demand. a version of their mac 'n cheese with duck confit and arugula. delicious, but also very rich!
Ate there last night as I needed their incredibly wonderful varation on a Manhattan (rough day).
My wife ordered the new seafood stew. This is a pass -- the dish itself needs a bit more acid -- maybe a squirt of lemon to round it out or perhaps some lemongrass in the base of the broth. The portion, for $16, was incredibly tiny, almost insulting. Two mussels, two shrimp, maybe an ounce (no more than two) of fish in broth with two pieces of bread. The mussel app at $9 is more filling than this and comes in the same sized bowl I seem to remember.
As always the portobello sandwich which I ordered was excellent, at a reasonable price of $8.50.
All in all a mediocre experience, mostly because of the fish stew -- considering my wife of 90 pounds made me stop and buy her a taco at El Comal on the way home, it clearly is not enough of a portion for the price.
Hope they can fix this one up.