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San Diego- Urban Solace brings wellness to your wallet

popandkate Apr 1, 2008 11:09 AM

Who needs gravy when you have orange honey butter? This citrus twist acted as wing man in America’s answer to chips and salsa. An immediate call for cheddar cheese biscuits ($4) threw a hot ball of chive ridden dough in our grabby mitts before our hunger led to any dire dining decisions. Another pre-meal munching was the Sonoma goat cheese and squash spread ($5) whose buttery tang was only upstaged by the cornmeal fried delights that Solace referred to as “crackers”.

Appetizers opened with a thick, potent Caesar ($6.50) boldly grabbing Romaine’s whole leaf contours. Chewy croutons were soon forgiven for their true bread backgrounds (no pre-cut, box brand here) and as I find it nearly impossible to run across a decent Caesar, I was satisfied. Tender skillet shrimp ($7.50) had a strong side when it came to seasoning, but pearls of chili grit wisdom softened the blow with an unusual “Southern risotto” smoothness that occurs when grits are prepared correctly. Sweet potato fries* (SPF*) ($5) were hailed my new favorite snack as I gorged on fingers of candy, fried starch contrasted by the pungency of the blue cheese/ buttermilk dressing.

Macaroni and cheese ($10.50) made a headlining debut in entrees (with co-stars bacon and charred tomatoes as part of their entourage) and we enjoyed every creamy crescendo. Unfortunately, sour notes were hit with non-contenders (or “non-content-ers”) in the entrée arena. One companion wrestled with a cinnamon brined pork chop ( $15.25) that was one tough customer, while my chicken and dumplings ($13.50)longed for more simmer time and the usual "stick to your rib" thickness associated with the dish. Maine lobster and artichoke potpie with homemade, fennel infused crust ($15.75) sounded too good to be true since my east coast roots constantly have me longing for “the claw”, but there wasn’t much luck finding claw meat and when I did it was a bit rubbery. The crust was homemade and flaky, but wasn’t enough to save the dish.

Amazingly enough, my favorite mainstay of the meal was their burger ($8.75) – Brandt Farms ground chuck married with a marinade that would surely provide many years of happiness to many loyal customers- white cheddar and sautéed onions further ensured this happy union and I was already taking mental notes of all the lunches I would schedule here for the same price as fast food (not to mention it came with SPF*).

Desserts (all $6) ensnared us in a chocolate vice with the “warm and gooey chocolate cake” oozing cocoa lava from its porous shell. On the tart side, we puckered then perked to key lime pie accompanied by a butter cookie reminiscent of my grandmother’s baking (with the addition of a clean, citrus finish).We weren’t brave enough to test Solace’s baked apple soaked in black cherry soda atop French toast- yet.

I would suggest sticking to appetizers, sandwiches and desserts for a taste of everything under $10 (not to mention a corking fee of $10 for two bottles- unheard of!)

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  1. c
    cstr RE: popandkate Apr 1, 2008 12:09 PM

    Thanks, I liked your colorful report, quite enjoyable. There's another thread on this place, given the excellent price points, if you're careful on the selection of entree's this place is a home-run. Awesome burgers!

    1. m
      MrKrispy RE: popandkate Apr 1, 2008 12:41 PM

      wow sounds like you ate enough for 3 meals! hahaha thanks for the great write up

      1. e
        Ewilensky RE: popandkate Apr 1, 2008 12:42 PM

        I love Urban Solace. Being able to walk there aside... Good food, competent service and dinner for 3, with beer/wine, 2 shared appetizers, entrees and 2 shared desserts under $50 pre-tip. Hard to find these days...

        1. c
          clayfu RE: popandkate Apr 2, 2008 07:23 PM

          I didn't particularly think i was getting a deal here when i went. Sure its not that expensive, but I really wasn't blown away by the food. I expected something amazing due to all the hype.

          I got the Monte Diego and it was extremely soggy... the pear also adds the wrong type of flavor to the sandwich when you consider they have a strawberry jam with it.
          The beef cheek was stringy and lacked in flavor(salt).
          The Artic Char was really average, nothing special nothing bad.
          The biscuits.. uh.. i can get those for free at Red Lobster with more flavor.

          What i did like.. was.... The Mussels (appetizer), the flank steak.

          And service was really really really slow. The guy took forever to get us wine glasses, between ordered the appetizer and ordering the entree was easily 15-20 minutes. Getting the dessert menu after all the plates were cleared away was another 10-15 minutes. Getting the bill after dessert took awhile as well.

          We were at the restaurant for 3 hours... I really don't get what all the hype is about. I do agree its not expensive and I don't feel ripped off, but i felt like i really did pay for what i got.

          20 Replies
          1. re: clayfu
            Josh RE: clayfu Apr 2, 2008 08:51 PM

            Kind of agree with you here. I had a burger, and while it was a very good burger, it wasn't transcendent or anything.

            1. re: clayfu
              honkman RE: clayfu Apr 2, 2008 11:04 PM

              The beef cheeks are normally very good, and I also like the duckaroni and the the lamb meatloaf. (I don't know anything about the sandwichs or burgers. I never understand how someone goes to the "more upscale" place for burgers or sandwich, but that is just my opinion). I think that the food is clearly above average especially for the price.

              1. re: honkman
                Josh RE: honkman Apr 3, 2008 01:01 AM

                If you want to understand the upscale burger, go to Cafe 910 for lunch. The Wagyu beef burger on brioche will make you a believer.

                1. re: honkman
                  c
                  clayfu RE: honkman Apr 4, 2008 12:57 PM

                  It doesn't make a difference if we have the cheapest item on the menu or the most expensive, from top to bottom a restaurant with hype like this should deliver on every aspect, not just on a handful of dishes. As well their Monte Diego is one of their "signature" dishes, even if it is a sandwich.

                  and it is your opinion that its clearly above average for the price, just not my dining party's (and apparently josh). Everything tasted like the price point it ought to have been.

                  1. re: clayfu
                    honkman RE: clayfu Apr 4, 2008 02:18 PM

                    I don't see really where there is any hype about Urban Solace (beside in your post) and so far I have tried most of the entrees (beside sandwiches and burgers) and didn't have anything bad.

                    1. re: honkman
                      c
                      clayfu RE: honkman Apr 4, 2008 04:26 PM

                      its not bad its just not good.

                      http://aliceqfoodie.blogspot.com/2007...
                      Alice Q cataloged a few places that have reviewed it, i think i'd consider that hype.
                      As well as all the people on yelp raving over it and you even posted on the chowhound post where people were all hyped about it.

                      1. re: clayfu
                        jonoropeza RE: clayfu Apr 5, 2008 01:34 PM

                        "its not bad its just not good." - totally. I've been to Urban Solace three times now and still couldn't figure out what was wrong with the place until I read this post. What it is, it nothing I've had there seemed like it was put together by anyone who gave a damn what it tasted like. Which is too bad, because it all *sounds* really good on the menu, doesn't it?

                    2. re: clayfu
                      Alice Q RE: clayfu Apr 5, 2008 06:15 PM

                      Have you been more than once? Because I've had varying experiences with a couple of dishes. I also think the popularity is leading some people to have unrealistic expectations, which seems to be happening a lot lately around here. We have a place that's everyone's new "darling" - then it puts out one bad meal and everyone starts squawking - it happened with Jayne's, it's happening with Farmhouse - everyone loves to tear down whatever happens to be on the pedestal.

                      I think they are overwhelmed with business, and it's sometimes hard to meet everyone's expectations under those circumstances. I'd say give it another chance though - maybe at a less busy time - and you might have a better experience.

                      1. re: Alice Q
                        DiningDiva RE: Alice Q Apr 5, 2008 06:52 PM

                        Alice, I think you've touched on a really important thing...unrealistic expectations. The restaurant business is hard, very hard, and it is almost impossible to be all things to all people and perfect every meal. Certainly some things should not be overlooked, but other things, I think, can definitely be chalked up to the way a service period plays out...which can be different day to day and even meal to meal.

                        I ate at Urban Solace before the hype. Our server was new and it showed. The Monte Diego was so-so in my opinion, but my dining companion liked it. The orange butter with the biscuits was awful. But in spite of the misses the place had a good vibe to it and showed potential. My second meal there was much better. The service had obviously improved and there wasn't much to dislike about the meal. Naomi Wise, however, in her review in the Reader a few weeks ago had a dreadful service experience and, based on my own experiences, I could see how that could have happened. I'm not ready or willing to write Urban Solace off as being over-hyped and not worth the dining $$$. Does it have service issues? You bet. Is the kitchen uneven? You bet, they need to find their stride and stick to it. After 6 months there shouldn't still be as many of the wide swings in quality and taste as are being reported.

                        I love The Better Half, for me it's one of the most interesting new restaurants to open in SD in a while. But it's not perfect either. Not all their dishes work for me. I had dinner there last week with PMacias and we had a foie gras dish. PMacias liked it a lot, I thought it was over dressed and too acidic and was, frankly, somewhat disappointed in the dish since I know the kitchen is capable of so much more. Am I willing to write The Better Half off as being over-hyped and not worth the dining $$$? Not in the least, the food is still a notch or two better than a lot of what else is in the neighborhood and the service is some of the best in town.

                        I've never had a bad meal at Laurel, but there are a zillion people on this list that will jump in to describe just how bad their meal was there. I do think, tho', that the kitchen at Laurel is stretched to the limits of their skill set and that their prices are at the top of the scale for what they're serving.

                        As consumers we've probably all been struggling with the wildly escalating cost of food. Eggs are up 40% since December, wheat and corn are at all time highs and supplies are at 30 year lows. Produce has gone up 10-20% over the last year and we don't even want to talk about what's happened to the price of cheese. Restaurants have been struggling with these issues as well, plus they're all probably being hit with fuel surcharges of some sort from their vendors. That we can still go to a restaurant and have a reasonably good to very good meal for a reasonable amount of money is astonishing to me. Urban Solace is uneven but usually pretty decent and at price points that are very reasonable compared to what it costs to purchase.

                        I don't go to restaurants expecting to be wowed and bowled over. I've found it's best to go with no expectations and to pay attention and observe what's going on in the dining room and with the staff. Good or merely so-so, I'm just hopping my favorite places can hold on through this food cost crisis and economic downturn. The reality is folks, that we're going to see some really good places go out of business because of the state of the economy. For better or worse, enjoy them now, they may not be here in a year.

                        1. re: DiningDiva
                          Alice Q RE: DiningDiva Apr 5, 2008 07:28 PM

                          Well said Gayla - I couldn't agree more.

                          1. re: DiningDiva
                            Josh RE: DiningDiva Apr 5, 2008 08:41 PM

                            you raise some good points. I don't disagree with you in principle, any place can have an off night. That being said, when a place is simply uneven, that's a different story. Places become favorites for me by being dependable. I don't expect perfection every time, but once you pass a certain price point there should be a pretty consistent execution.

                            1. re: DiningDiva
                              c
                              clayfu RE: DiningDiva Apr 10, 2008 10:55 PM

                              too bad Urban Solace isn't good right?
                              And if the food is almost universally disliked by my whole party of 7 I tend to not go back to a restaurant to get my money taken again.

                              the problem is the place shouldn't be popular, its just an average restaurant, i have no idea why people like it so much. I wasn't expected to be wowed by $15 a dish, i just expected it to be worth at least $15 a dish which i don't think it really met.

                              Just because you can put new twists on old favorites doesn't mean it'll taste good. Jono said it perfectly.

                              I think now that more than a handful of people have tried it, it's really getting exposed as a restaurant that isn't meeting any expectations.

                              1. re: clayfu
                                Alice Q RE: clayfu Apr 11, 2008 12:41 AM

                                Did you really go there with a party of 7? That might be the problem right there. As busy as they generally are, I'd think they might have a hard time getting good food out to a table that size. Sounds like a recipe for disaster with a sandwich like the Monte Diego.

                                1. re: Alice Q
                                  c
                                  clayfu RE: Alice Q Apr 11, 2008 01:36 PM

                                  I'm sorry, so its my fault for having a table of 7?
                                  The restaurant should be able to handle serving food for a table of 7, other places do it fine I don't see why they can't.

                                  It ought to be pretty common knowledge for a restaurant to be able to prepare the food so it all comes out partially fresh.

                                  I can't believe that you're trying to justify the problem of my experience with it being a large party.

                                  So either the food here is average or the service/kitchen staff is way below average?

                                  1. re: clayfu
                                    Alice Q RE: clayfu Apr 11, 2008 04:55 PM

                                    Obviously a lot of people have liked it - including myself - which would seem to indicate that your experience was outside the norm. In looking for reasons for that, there's a good chance that the large party and what you ordered could be (at least part of) the explanation.

                                    Even food critics eat somewhere at least 3 times before writing a review, and it's possible to order poorly at just about any restaurant. It's also not as if there are only two options here - a) the restaurant sucks, and b) the restaurant is great - more likely it's c) the restaurant is overall pretty decent, but occasionally puts out a dud - and you happened to get one.

                                2. re: clayfu
                                  honkman RE: clayfu Apr 11, 2008 09:07 AM

                                  As you see from this discussion (and blogs) there are a lot of people that really like Urban Solace. Just because you didn't like it means that everybody else (or even the majority) agrees with it or that it "gets exposed".

                                  1. re: honkman
                                    c
                                    cstr RE: honkman Apr 11, 2008 01:40 PM

                                    It's about prespective, this place has very good and fairly priced chow, especially the burger, US is not five star dining and never claims to be. For me, it's pick and choose what they do best and go with that. As for service, at those prices, I can forgive a little slowness.

                                    1. re: cstr
                                      Josh RE: cstr Apr 11, 2008 02:40 PM

                                      Honestly, I'd rather have the burger at Ritual Tavern. The beer selection is better, and the burger is just as good if not better.

                                    2. re: honkman
                                      c
                                      clayfu RE: honkman May 12, 2008 01:09 AM

                                      just because you like a restaurant doesn't mean other people don't. I think you've seen from this thread alone, quite a few people haven't had good experiences there.

                                      So yes.. its "exposed", people are finally trying it out after all the people talking about how great it is and realizing its really not that special.

                                      1. re: clayfu
                                        o
                                        oerdin RE: clayfu Aug 28, 2008 06:52 PM

                                        I think that's dreadfully unfair. As DD pointed out the restaurant business is hard and I would say you'd have to go at least three times before you can make a definitive decision on if a restaurant is good or bad. To many people go to a restaurant once and then whine about something out of the chef's control & post endless angry comments on boards like this. In my opinion this is uninformed and a differentiate those remarks compared to people who have tried the restaurant several times and who thus have a broad background to make an informed decision.

                        2. j
                          jturtle RE: popandkate Apr 4, 2008 09:53 PM

                          To be honest, I wasn't that enthused about it. I enjoyed the fact that when we went they told us it was going to be an hour wait and really it was only fifteen minutes. I really liked the sweet potato fries but my BLT was average to below average. They had all the right ingredients: brioche, tasty lettuce, apple smoked bacon but it just didn't come together. We also had the steak which was way below others in the same price range & style i.e. Farmhouse, Cafe Chloe and Modus. All in all, not somewhere I would return to unless pressed or going to the awesome bar next door (in which case I would probably get a nacho cheese burger at Tioli's Crazy Burger--try it!) I do appreciate that they are trying to serve good food at a reasonable price point but it just didn't work. Maybe it will and I should try it again once the "hype" dies down.

                          1. foodiechick RE: popandkate Apr 5, 2008 06:46 PM

                            Had lunch there today. The shrimp and grits was overwhelmed with spice and cooked to rubber band consistency. Burger? Brant beef? More like meatloaf mix. Asked for medium rare, came back well done with no hint of pinkness (maybe to ensure no problems from undercooked pork or veal in the meat patty mixture). Sweet potatoe fries were limp, soggy and bland. And we were told it was a slow day!

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: foodiechick
                              Alice Q RE: foodiechick Apr 11, 2008 12:35 AM

                              That's really odd - the last two times I've either ordered or seen the burger it was cooked perfectly. Not crazy about the sweet potato fries (they're almost never crisp) but they shouldn't be bland. Sounds like you should have sent it back!

                              1. re: Alice Q
                                foodiechick RE: Alice Q Apr 11, 2008 03:39 PM

                                we told the server of our concerns, but did not send it back because we did not want to penalize him for the kitchen mistakes. he promised to relay the thoughts to them. although we both have serious reservations about this spot staying in the rotation, we want to give it one more try. we just wanted to voice an opinion about what may be a change in philosophy. the burger was not what was represented on the menu as a "brant beef, 100% angus burger" (unless they put all kinds of funky stuff in the patty for flavor and/or filler), we have pretty spot-on taste buds when it comes to a burger (agree with josh about ritual tavern's version.) Just oho. I think our next burger challenge is the linkery - and really can't wait - we have had many other items there and loved it!

                                1. re: foodiechick
                                  Alice Q RE: foodiechick Apr 11, 2008 04:43 PM

                                  Brandt Beef actually comes in pre-formed patties - it's produced in Brawley and it's what the Linkery uses too. They put some kind of herb butter on it - so maybe that's what you were tasting.

                                  If you like burgers I just had a REALLY good one at the Torrey Pines Lodge bar last week - it's called the Drugstore Burger. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/2...

                                  1. re: Alice Q
                                    foodiechick RE: Alice Q Apr 11, 2008 10:26 PM

                                    the herb butter must be it, thanks for the insight...and the tip on the lodge. do you know of any place that sells brandt ground beef retail for burgers at home? have only run across prime cuts in certain butcher counters.

                                    1. re: foodiechick
                                      Josh RE: foodiechick Apr 11, 2008 11:47 PM

                                      I'd look at Jonathan's in La Jolla. They have a lot of Brandt beef, including chuck. Even if they don't have pre-packaged ground beef, you can get their butcher to grind up some chuck for you.

                                      1. re: foodiechick
                                        Alice Q RE: foodiechick Apr 12, 2008 08:03 AM

                                        Jonathan's and Harvest Ranch Markets have had a lock on Brandt meats up until now - I heard they were starting to sell at the LJ Farmers Market and I keep waiting for them to pop up at the Hillcrest one. The bad news is the patties retail for $7.00 apiece!

                                        1. re: Alice Q
                                          Josh RE: Alice Q Apr 12, 2008 05:00 PM

                                          That's insane. I'd much rather go to Jonathan's and have them grind some chuck for me. IIRC, I paid a little over $5/lb. for boneless chuck there. $7/patty is absurd.

                                          1. re: Josh
                                            Alice Q RE: Josh Apr 12, 2008 06:44 PM

                                            Good to know. BTW - just today I bought some organic ground beef at Trader Joes - they have it in one pound packages. I have a friend coming over on Monday and I'm going to try making the Hungry Cat's Pug Burgers at home

                                            1. re: Alice Q
                                              d
                                              DougOLis RE: Alice Q Apr 13, 2008 07:28 PM

                                              I just ordered a sampler pack from Alderspring Ranch (a grassfed beef ranch in Idaho) that comes with 8 lbs of ground beef, which is far more than I need. If you want some of it, let me know.

                                              1. re: DougOLis
                                                Alice Q RE: DougOLis Apr 13, 2008 08:01 PM

                                                sounds intriguing - can you email me offline thru my blog? www.aliceqfoodie.com (link on the sidebar)

                                        2. re: foodiechick
                                          menuinprogress RE: foodiechick Apr 12, 2008 11:48 AM

                                          Brandt has a stand at the PB farmers market - they started selling there late last year.

                                          1. re: menuinprogress
                                            foodiechick RE: menuinprogress Apr 14, 2008 12:25 PM

                                            Thanks for the farmers market info, both LJ and PB, I will certainly look iinto it. I have bought the porterhouse at Jonathans, at the time they told me they did not have ground (maybe they were just out). I usually buy chuck for burgers, but was so blown away by the Brandt upscale cuts that I wanted to try their ground for burgers at home at least once. However I am not willing to have the butcher grind the upscale cuts (at those prices) for a burger experiment ; )
                                            Trader Joe's organic certainly will get a try, let us know what you think Alice...also very intrigued about the Hungry Cat's burger recipe. Would you post it on your blog?

                                            1. re: foodiechick
                                              Alice Q RE: foodiechick Apr 14, 2008 11:40 PM

                                              The Trader Joes meat was really good. Sadly, I did not take any pictures, but they were pretty close to the original! It's basically a big thick patty, topped with bleu cheese, bacon and avocado, with lettuce and tomato. There's a picture on my blog post about the Hungry Cat - and they looked just like that. I will try to post about how I made them later this week.

                                2. amyzan RE: popandkate Apr 10, 2008 07:28 PM

                                  I went to Urban Solace for brunch back in November. The benedict was served with cold poached eggs. When I told the waitress, she was apologetic and got me one where the prepoached eggs had been reheated properly. In fact, it was delicious, with perfectly runny yolks, just how I like it. Absolutely no complaints, and everyone else at table enjoyed their choices, too.

                                  My dad and brother went for dinner since, and both liked it, though I don't know what they ate. I'd go again, even if I had to flag down the waitress for a problem.

                                  1. Josh RE: popandkate May 10, 2008 02:52 PM

                                    Reading this thread inspired me to go back for lunch today. Sorry to say, it was a pretty disappointing experience. I really want to like this place, but they are making it difficult. I was torn between chicken salad and the BLT. The server talked up the chicken salad quite a bit, so I got that one. I asked in advance if there was a lot of mayonnaise in it, because I really dislike heavily dressed chicken salad. He assured me there wasn't, and when it came, I was pretty taken aback by how much there was on there. Bread was just OK. Side salad ditto. Nothing remarkable at all about this food. What am I missing here? Am I ordering the wrong things? What's something they do really well so if I go back I'm not writing another post like this one?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Josh
                                      Alice Q RE: Josh May 10, 2008 11:46 PM

                                      I had the same disappointing experience with the chicken salad - just about everything else I've had there, I liked better. Have you tried the burger? The brunch? Both of those I liked - and their salads are good, I also liked the beef cheek, the pork chop and the lobster pot pie at dinner.

                                      1. re: Alice Q
                                        popandkate RE: Alice Q May 11, 2008 12:46 PM

                                        Josh, I also agree with the burger (though I think you've tried that and weren't thrilled) and the squash dip is great. I can't agree w/ the potpie and pork chop though (as stated in the original post) but their sausage gravy and biscuits are great at the brunch and their Caesar is tasty.

                                        1. re: popandkate
                                          Josh RE: popandkate May 11, 2008 05:09 PM

                                          I've had the burger. Thought it was OK. Nothing special, certainly.

                                      2. re: Josh
                                        c
                                        clayfu RE: Josh May 12, 2008 01:07 AM

                                        you aren't missing anything. I went back again last weekend with another friend who's yet to go there.

                                        Another disappointing experience.
                                        I had the duckaroni and he had the meatloaf.

                                        I think the stuff just doesn't stand well by itself, it requires to be drenched in sauce to have any flavor. The duckaroni as well as their standard mac and cheese seem to lack a key element..... cheese. Use more cheese! its a mac and cheese!

                                      3. Enorah RE: popandkate May 12, 2008 09:00 AM

                                        We had a really bad experience there as well a couple of months ago. We went for lunch and 20 minutes after placing our order (biscuit app, chicken and dumplings, burger), the hostess (manager?) came up to our table and said, "It is going to be another 9 minutes (yep, she said nine minutes) before your food will be out, so the chef would like to offer you a complimentary nosh plate.

                                        I said, "Oh, that is very nice, thanks. But, also, we ordered the biscuits and have not yet received them." She got a look on her face and wandered off.

                                        The biscuits were brought out by our server who we had not seen in 25 minutes, saying as he placed them on the table, "Man, we are really slammed today." We ate a couple (they were yummy), and then my sweetie ran out to move the car. (We had parked in an 1 hour only parking spot, we thought an hour would be sufficient for lunch. Our bad.)

                                        Two minutes after he was out the door our lunch was set down on the table (forty-five minutes after being seated) by the hostess/manager. I said, "So you are not bringing us the Nosh plate?"

                                        She said, "Oh, no, I comped the biscuits." (the forgotten biscuits).

                                        So far, not a single apology.

                                        I sat and waited 5 minutes for my sweetie to get back. He did, and I watched him take a bite out of his burger, he had ordered it medium rare, he had stressed to the server that he would only order a burger if he could get it that way. The server had said, "No problem, we cook them to order."

                                        The burger was medium well. I said, "Do you want to send it back." And he said, "If I can, yes."

                                        Well that was a problem, since our server never came back to see how our lunch was or if we needed anything like refills on our coffee and iced tea. So he ate the over cooked burger. That, I think, was the worst part of it, to have a mistake made is one thing, but to then ignore us because he did not want to deal, that was lame and inexcusable.

                                        My chicken and dumplings were good.

                                        But we will not go back.

                                        21 Replies
                                        1. re: Enorah
                                          Josh RE: Enorah May 12, 2008 09:23 AM

                                          Funny you'd mention that about the server. When I was eating my chicken salad, the manager on duty and the server asked me how it was. Now, I was really hungry, hadn't eaten yet that day, and had ridden my bike there, so I was going to eat it regardless. I said, "It's OK." I would think they'd try and find out why the lackluster response, but apparently they don't really care.

                                          1. re: Josh
                                            Alice Q RE: Josh May 12, 2008 09:28 AM

                                            Why weren't you honest with them if you didn't like it? I wouldn't go so far as to assume they don't care (I mean, they asked, right?) I think it's more likely that your response led them to believe you didn't want to be bothered.

                                            1. re: Alice Q
                                              foodiechick RE: Alice Q May 12, 2008 11:42 AM

                                              We had a very similar experience with the burger not cooked to order (med-rare), however a completely different reaction from the staff. On a very busy Saturday we decided to sit at the bar for lunch. The bartender could not have been more gracious (and he was slammed). My husband was beyond disappointed with the burger and was honest with him when he inquired. He seemed a little stunned that it could have been so off and immediately went to the kitchen himself to launch an investigation. This was our first trip to US so hoping it was just an off day we asked him to just pass along our comments to the kitchen and please not remove the charge from our check (it was not the bartender's fault). I think being straight-forward is the way to go, even if it is brutally honest - they can only learn from their mistakes if they are given honest feedback. That being said, I hope the problems listed on this thread are just a blip on the radar and not a trend. I would hate to lose another small, independent restaurant in this town...times are getting pretty tough for them lately.

                                              1. re: foodiechick
                                                phee RE: foodiechick May 12, 2008 10:10 PM

                                                I've only been there once, and our group had a mostly positive experience. But I want to add my two-cents to the point that foodiechick made: their bartender was very busy when we were there but gave us very attentive service. I'm thinking some of the waitstaff could take a cue from him.

                                                Ironically enough, clayfu, my friend complained about her mac & cheese being "too cheesy"! Overall, that was the only complaint the day we were there.

                                              2. re: Alice Q
                                                Josh RE: Alice Q May 12, 2008 01:22 PM

                                                I was pressed for time and needed to eat and get out of there. You're right, I shouldn't assume they don't care.

                                                1. re: Josh
                                                  popandkate RE: Josh May 12, 2008 05:54 PM

                                                  You didn't have the time to tell them why it was bad -what would that take, 3 seconds? But you did have the time to tell the entire internet how bad it was. Why wouldn't you help them change the problems (especially when specifically asked) instead of just bashing them later?

                                                  1. re: popandkate
                                                    Josh RE: popandkate May 12, 2008 09:30 PM

                                                    No, you're missing my point. It's not that I didn't have time to tell them it was bad, I didn't have time to wait for a replacement item. I needed to eat and run. I didn't write the post at that moment, I wrote it later after I was done with my commitment, and I think it was relevant to this discussion given that there are obviously some pretty mixed opinions about the quality of Urban Solace.

                                                    You raise a good question though - if a business is selling a product to the public, why is it my responsibility as a patron to keep my less-than-positive-opinion to myself?

                                                    1. re: Josh
                                                      DiningDiva RE: Josh May 12, 2008 10:06 PM

                                                      Josh, it isn't your responsibility to keep a less than good opinion to yourself. I understood you were in eat and run mode, but I think Popandkate also brings up a good point as well. If someone doesn't have a very good experience at a restaurant, doesn't give the restaurant the courtesy/opportunity to fix/feedback about what didn't work, how responsible is it to turn around and then bad mouth the restaurant all over cyberspace?

                                                      It's one thing to complain at the restaurant and see how they handle it, and another to keep mum and then unleash all the complaints after the fact to total strangers. It's been a while since I read it, but IIRC, Naomi Wise, like a lot of people here, wanted to like US, but encountered problems, some of the same ones mentioned on this thread. She *did* talk to the chef/owner. But return visits weren't that much better and she ended up writing a pretty scathing review. It was positive enough, but it also took them to task for the failures she had mentioned to those in charge. I thought she was perfectly justified in calling them out.

                                                      It certainly helps the credibility of the person doing the complaining if they've at least tried to deal with the problem(s) while still at the restaurant before they rant on-line. I think that's the point PnK was trying to make. But, no, since this was an established on-going thread with many comments along the same lines as yours, I think your comments were related.

                                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                                        Josh RE: DiningDiva May 12, 2008 10:42 PM

                                                        If this thread didn't exist, I wouldn't have posted about it, honestly. I don't think I've ever initiated a negative comment thread (at least, I don't remember doing so), because I don't think it's all that useful.

                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                          Enorah RE: Josh May 12, 2008 10:53 PM

                                                          Me too, Josh. In fact, I kept my mouth shut about our experience there because I do not find the negative nearly as useful as the positive either. But I felt I wanted to chime in today.

                                                      2. re: Josh
                                                        popandkate RE: Josh May 12, 2008 10:13 PM

                                                        I think that your comment was relevant, but the fact that they came up and asked you outright how it was, gave you a chance to air your grievances. You declined that option, so you did keep your "less than positive opinion" to yourself, but only in person (at the place where they might be able to do something about it).

                                                        Nor should you have to play taste-tester for restaurants, but if I have something really subpar, then I let them know. I don't expect them to guess, especially if they ask how it is. Why keep it to yourself ?

                                                        I know you didn't post your comments that minute, but I feel like if you're gonna smack talk on the internet then at least be willing to give them an honest answer in person. I'm in no way saying that you shouldn't be able to complain about bad experiences (as my Lucky Buck comments show :)

                                                        1. re: popandkate
                                                          Josh RE: popandkate May 12, 2008 10:46 PM

                                                          I don't think you're being accurate here. They asked in a half-interested fashion, while performing other duties, and when I responded with an unenthusiastic "it's OK", I think I did let them know I was underwhelmed. I certainly wasn't enthusiastically complimenting them on the food - far from it.

                                                          That's not expecting them to guess, in my opinion. Other places I've been, with good service, when you respond in a lackluster way like that, they'll usually try to find out what the problem is.

                                                          1. re: Josh
                                                            popandkate RE: Josh May 12, 2008 11:02 PM

                                                            You're right- I'm not accurate b/c I wasn't there and I was only going off what you said earlier. No one is accusing you of starting negative threads, but again my point was that if it was that bad, I didn't understand when asked directly you didn't say, "Not too good." If the server was performing multiple duties, they may have taken "ok" as "ok" and gotten back to their other tasks.

                                                            You're right- great servers would notice your hesitation and like Enorah said, they wouldn't try and ignore you- but my comment was about you neglecting to come forth on your true feelings there and telling it later here.

                                                            1. re: popandkate
                                                              Josh RE: popandkate May 12, 2008 11:12 PM

                                                              I may be wrong, but I kind of got the vibe that they are really convinced what they are doing is the bee's knees, so unhappy customers cause them cognitive dissonance. (I am not a stranger to this phenomenon, and have encountered it before with places that have loyal fan-bases). When I was trying to decide what to get, the two people who later half-interestedly asked how it was enthusiastically recommended what I wound up ordering. In some ways, I think I felt that if they thought this was so awesome, we wouldn't have much common ground regarding my dissatisfaction. And really, I don't know that I'd say the dish was flawed - it wasn't as though the chicken wasn't cooked properly, or the bread was stale. There wasn't anything erroneous about it - I just didn't think it was very good. There is a difference in my mind between not liking something, and something being poorly done - one is simply not to your taste.

                                                              1. re: Josh
                                                                popandkate RE: Josh May 12, 2008 11:20 PM

                                                                That is true- if it's a matter of taste, there's not much you can say except that you won't get it again. Alright- truce!
                                                                But, you'll be happy to know I'm trying Super Cocina b/c of you on Thurs. night.

                                                                1. re: popandkate
                                                                  Josh RE: popandkate May 12, 2008 11:27 PM

                                                                  Cool, Super Cocina is often very good.

                                                                  A warning - don't go late. No, not because of the neighborhood, but because I've consistently noticed that the food quality is usually not as good when you hit the closing stretch of the evening.

                                                                  Food is cooked there all day long, but because the dishes are stewed, mostly, they sit in a steam table. Since they close at 8:30, fresh stuff isn't always brought out late, depending on business. If you get there before 6pm, you should be good to go. I would try to avoid getting there after 7pm.

                                                                  1. re: Josh
                                                                    Enorah RE: Josh May 12, 2008 11:29 PM

                                                                    Now I'm hungry.

                                                                    1. re: Josh
                                                                      popandkate RE: Josh May 12, 2008 11:34 PM

                                                                      That's very useful info! I will make sure to get us there early- thanks.

                                                                      1. re: Josh
                                                                        honkman RE: Josh May 12, 2008 11:55 PM

                                                                        I want to try Super Cocina for a long, long time but can never make it during the week before 7.30pm. Based on your comments it would be better to try to them over the weekend. Do you know when they are open on Saturday/Sunday ?

                                                                        1. re: honkman
                                                                          Josh RE: honkman May 13, 2008 12:00 AM

                                                                          They are 8:30-8:30, 7 days a week. If you go for breakfast, try the chilaquiles.

                                                                  2. re: popandkate
                                                                    The Chowhound Team RE: popandkate May 15, 2008 08:38 AM

                                                                    Folks, the discussion of what you should and shouldn't do in any given customer service situation is off topic for our regional boards. If you've got specific info related to the food (or service) at the restaurant, please go ahead and post it, but otherwise, we're asking you to let this branch of the conversation end.

                                                  2. m
                                                    MrKrispy RE: popandkate May 14, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                    In a change of direction for this post, I actually want to applaud the service at Urban Solace. On a Friday night a few weeks ago (apparently after the O'briens Craft Brewer Conference night) there was a person in the restaurant that was a bit....inebriated enjoying dinner with some friends. Said person was talking a bit loudly and dropped a few curse words. The server then told this person that they could no longer server him alcohol, saving any nearby customers of a further onslaught of loud talking and accidental cursing. The drunk didn't cause a ruckus, but quieted down and finished the meal (and apologized), hopefully not further intruding on anyone's experience. It seems to be rare that restaurants actually have the sense to cut someone off soon enough before they become obnoxious drunks.

                                                    Oh, and to anyone there that night that might happen to be a Chowhound, I apologize! ;)

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: MrKrispy
                                                      m
                                                      MrKrispy RE: MrKrispy Aug 27, 2008 12:23 PM

                                                      anyone with inside info know if they are going to bring back the Beef cheeks???

                                                      1. re: MrKrispy
                                                        u
                                                        UrbanSolace RE: MrKrispy Aug 27, 2008 05:01 PM

                                                        yes we are, as soon as the weather cools down!
                                                        (from the chef at urban solace)

                                                        1. re: UrbanSolace
                                                          m
                                                          MrKrispy RE: UrbanSolace Aug 28, 2008 10:27 AM

                                                          now that is some inside info haha. Thanks, can't wait to get them again!

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