HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Urban Solace is a class act

Went to Urban Solace for lunch today. Hadn't been in a while.

Great combination of atmosphere, music, food, wine and Service.

Very professional.

It really feels like you are in a different city when you walk through those doors.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've eaten there three times and was disappointed every time. I must have ordered the wrong things.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Maybe they weren't hyped enough for your liking.

        1. re: stevewag23

          Burger, chicken salad sandwich.

          1. re: Josh

            Try some real food at US not just burgers and sandwiches ;)

            1. re: honkman


              I was trying it at lunch. And seriously, if you can't get those two things right I'm not optimistic about anything more ambitious.

              1. re: Josh

                Ha. I was going to say the same thing as honkman.

                Although I do agree with "if you can't get those two things right I'm not optimistic about anything more ambitious"

                The problem with eating burgers (unless a place really "claims" burgers like Zuni Cafe, and I dont think US does) is that you compare it against every burger you have ever had.

                Makes it hard to be impressed.

                I had a shrimp with corn cake dish and duckaroni.

                Both very respectable.

                1. re: Josh

                  I've eaten at US for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for some reason, the lunch items, which seem the simplest, have been the least satisfying for me. I've found dinner and breakfast good to very good.

                2. re: honkman

                  2nd that, sometimes basic offerings are on the menu but, are not their recommended specialties or best. Flutter those wings and expand your palate Josh!

                  1. re: cstr

                    These were items recommended to me very highly by their staff, FYI.

                    As far as expanding my palate goes, well, I don't know what to say to that other than you clearly don't know me very well.

                    Checking out their dinner menu, I see nothing that isn't based around meat, and I don't see any indication that they use something other than commodity meat.

                3. re: Josh

                  Try the jidori chicken next time you're there, it's pretty damned good. other things I've had that I've liked: the tomato & watermelon salad, duckaroni, meatloaf, beef cheeks

                  1. re: DougOLis

                    I agree with your recommendations, but I believe only the salad and duckaroni are available at lunch. I have had the same experience as Josh at lunch when they serve mostly sandwiches and the oddly flavored burger. The dinner menu is much more successful and worth a try (especially the brined jidori chicken).

                    1. re: DougOLis

                      Anything called duckaroni would be difficult for me to order. Almost as bad as the lobstermato.

              2. US is nice and has decent food but I am not sure if I would hype it that much. Their food is OK to good (but the menu doesn't change often enough and they have from time to time a bad day in the kitchen which shouldn't happen this often), service ranges from good to horrible but often very unprofessional. We went recently a few times to Alchemy which has more creative food in the same price range and much better service.

                4 Replies
                1. re: honkman

                  I'm a little surprised at your report of bad service. I've been many times and had good service every time. Maybe I'm lucky. I like the menu, the prices, the room and the Bluegrass brunch. I do agree that some specials or menu changes would be nice.

                  1. re: eatemup

                    One of the issues with the service (but not the only one) is that quite often they bring you the appetizer and a few minutes later your entree. (The record was 3 minutes). Somehow this only happens in San Diego that there is is no real coordination in the kitchen regarding when to fire up a dish and in additition there seems to be no communication between server and kitchen. This happened quite often at US and there is hardly anything I dislike more in terms of service in a restaurant when they really want to turn over the table as fast as possible and don't care if you just started eating your appetizer. Linkery and Cafe Chloe are two other restaurants where we have had the same problem (but not as often).

                    1. re: honkman

                      I know what you mean, but it happens to me all over the country, not just SD. Heck, it happened at Picasso in Las Vegas, had to send the entree back twice! I don't recall having that experience at US, but could have happened once. Busy places trying to turn tables, I guess. Not that that's an excuse.

                      1. re: rotie77

                        That's disappointing with Picasso. I like the restaurant even though I still don't understand how it could get two stars. My wife and I tend to do many, many weekend restaurant trips over the last 2-3 years to LA, LV, SF etc. and we never had a single issue with restaurants trying to turn tables but have it quite often in San Diego.

                2. Okay, I'm sorry, but who hacked into steveway23's account? ; )

                  I was wowed by their meatloaf once. I would like to go there again someday. That is all.

                  1. Love their Sunday brunch, damn good biscuits and gravy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rotie77

                      Good topic. Just had a 5 course tasting lunch today with my buddy. We sat at the bar, had beers and the food was fantastic. Bar started getting slammed but we had no issues getting more drinks. Food was great - braised lamb riblets were awesome! - and the Chef came out and chatted with us for a few. Very nice time. I always recommend sitting at the bar and eating, in my experience always a better time than at a table.

                    2. Well, husband and I have dined at US many times and have always had a good experience, but last night, they were WAY off.

                      The greeting from the hostess was fine, nothing special. She told us the wait was 15 minutes, but she did not ask if we preferred indoors or outdoors.

                      Several minutes later the hostess seated us outside at a small, rickety, metal table. The patio is uneven, so the table was not solid, and my chair had at least two inches of uneven space under the legs. The weather was slightly cool, and I was wearing short sleeves, the heater was off, and the table was located directly next to a large gathering. Having spent many years working as a server, I knew this was arguably the absolute worst table in the house.

                      We asked to be moved inside because I was cold. Then in her infinite wisdom, the lovely hostess sat us a a table NEXT TO THE DOOR. I thought, oh dear, I am about the lowest maintenance person in the world, and here I am faced with having to school this young lady on the finer points of the dining experience.

                      We were getting hungry, so I said the table would be okay. And yes, I know, I should have demanded a decent table, (the quiet, intimate section in the back was completely open), but I wanted to move forward.

                      The silverware appeared cloudy and almost, well, dirty. I did not see actual pieces of food, but it looked like maybe their washing machine was not functioning properly.

                      The service was pretty flat. When we dine, we tell the server to bring one glass of whichever wine they will be appropriate for our dinners. Upon this request, a server always questions our likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. (The night we dined at Farmhouse, the server had a 20 minute consultation with the chef over our wine). This young, server only replied, okay, and then brought us two glasses of (the same) red wine. Not a total disaster, but certainly not up to par with our usual US experience.

                      The food was excellent thank goodness. We split the Chop Chop. I had the beef cheeks and husband had the hanger steak.

                      All in all, pretty "C grade."

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Dagney

                        Sorry to hear that.

                        I almost exclusively dine at the bar. Everywhere.

                        I think table service in San Diego, you are rolling the dice.

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          Yes, and it's so frustrating because excellent service is actually easier to provide than bad service.


                          1. re: Dagney

                            Just remembered, when the server took our appetizer plate away, she said, "Oh, go ahead and keep you fork." So disappointing.

                        1. re: MrKrispy

                          Together with the pork belly unfortunately one of the weaker dishes at US, IMO

                          1. re: honkman

                            My SO still raves about the pork belly dish he had at Urban Solace several months ago. Different prep, perhaps?

                            1. re: dustchick

                              I felt that the pork belly wasn't tender enough and the sauce was overly salty. In addition one of the weaknesses at some of the dishes at US are the sides of the dishes. Let's be honest to braise pork belly and beef cheeks is not terrible difficult and you will get decent versions in many restaurants. One (of many criteria) which makes for me a good/average restaurant to an outstanding restaurant is how they elevate a dish to the next level by for example (and there are many other ways) being creative with their sides, sauces etc. At some dishes at US this works nicely but I never felt that way with the beef cheeks or the pork belly. (One way to assess this for me is by asking myself if I would have difficulties to replicate the dish (including sauce, sides etc). at home)

                              1. re: honkman

                                Fair enough. Come to think of it, I haven't ordered many dishes at US that came with sides or sauces. I've had the mac-n-cheese, vegetable pot pie, etc... Next time I'm there, I'll pay attention to the embellishments. Interesting insight!

                                1. re: dustchick

                                  I saw recently that they changed their pork belly dish and so I had to try it and it was even more disappointing then the last time. The whole dish didn't work - meat absolutely not tender (why do have some restaurants problems to get braised dishes to work (last night at Starlite the same problem with their braised beef dish), the spices were off, vegetables mushy etc..

                          2. re: MrKrispy

                            When did beef cheeks come back onto the menu!? I actually stopped frequenting US because the last time I went they took beef cheeks off the menu (it probably wasn't selling well, but it was SO good!) and because I asked the waitress if the lamb meatloaf was actually very lamby or gamey and she said something to the effect of "oh no, don't worry it's not too gamey." My immediate thought was, "Then why are you bothering to make it out of lamb?"

                            Other than that, the other times I've been there I've had good to great service. The great service occasion being when I asked about a wine to accompany my meal and the waiter picked out a perfect Oregonian one after some deliberation.

                            1. re: RTee

                              I'm not sure when, but I had them there about 2 months ago.

                                1. re: rquitaso

                                  Urban Solace, welcome back to my rotation!

                                  1. re: RTee

                                    probably goes w/o saying, but on dinner menu only.

                          3. We live around the corner so we eat there often- we have hads several great meals and a couple so-so ones (New Years eve for one but pretty much that's a given ANYWHERE)

                            They are now doing the appetizers for popular True North next door & I think *maybeP they have spread themselves a little thin?

                            Also they took the Cherry Jones Soda Roasted Apple off the menu :(

                            1. Class act? Or is it?
                              I brought east coast foodies there last week. We were greeted by a hostess with bright dyed orange hair and wearing shorts that covered the imagination but little else. I thought we had walked into Forever 21 by mistake. A snarky sarcastic waiter added to my embarrassment. The floor manager as well was dressed very casually. The food was delicious, thank goodness, but I wonder if I want to entertain sophisticated adults, do I need to stick to places like Addison. Have more casual places like Urban Solace decided to cater to a younger, hipster crowd with a lack of dress code and sarcastic service to older people who don't appreciate it?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: nessy

                                There will be much debate over Urban Solace, but my last two dinners were on par with what you described. The hostess had just arrived from cheer camp (like, OMG!) and the service was mediocre at best. We have not dined there in over two years and won't go back.

                                We can stand a casual atmosphere when the price is under $50 for two, but when dinner begins to reach over the $150 threshold, we expect "Good evening," not to be seated outside, in the cold, at a rickety table, and to not be referred to as "guys" by the waitstaff. I am not a guy.

                                I get really worked up over crappy service. If the server at scrappy little Studio Diner can say, "Good evening miss," at 3am, when I know she is slammed, then the higher end room needs to do better.

                                1. re: Dagney

                                  I wouldn't call US higher end. And did you have a reservation ? Seating outside is normally for walk-ins, so if you don't have a reservation why would you complain to be seated outsite, it's not the fault of the restaurant. (And I agree that "guys" is unfortunately a very common but wrong start of a conversation between server and customer - but why should it be relavant what anybody wears at a restaurant)

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    I was there in January of this year. We had a reservations. Restaurant wasn't even half full. We were seated outside because the table we were led to first was a 2 top and there were 3 of us...which the reservation clearly stated and we were not offered another option inside.

                                    Thankfully it wasn't cold, our waiter decent and the food good.

                                    1. re: honkman

                                      We did have a reservation that night. Though I have never heard of any restaurant having a policy to seat unreserved patrons outside on a cold night.

                                      1. re: Dagney

                                        Normally it is hard to get a reservation for US on a short notice and their policy in that case is to have the patio for walk-ins.