Urban Solace – comfort food for the stomach

Recently, I had to take a work trip down to my old stomping grounds of San Diego.  While I was there, I decided that a stop at one of my favorite restaurants was necessary; it had been too long since I had been to Urban Solace.  I called up my friend, “Chef” Eddie, and off we went for dinner.  Located in the North Park area, Urban Solace opened its doors a few years ago.  Since then, it has earned much acclaim for Chef Matt Gordon’s wonderful upscale twist on comfort food.  Even though it was a weeknight, the restaurant was packed and there was about a 20 minute wait.  For those who are faced with some extra time before being seated, a large bar area located near the door is a great place to hang out and have a pre-meal cocktail or have some wine or beer (bottled and tap) from the extensive list.

Cheddar biscuits with orange honey butter

One thing that I always tell people they MUST order when eating at Urban Solace is the warm cheese biscuits with orange honey butter.  Naturally, Eddie and I ordered some as an appetizer.  Soft, fluffy, cheesy, these are the epitome of what cheddar biscuits should be.   Paired with sweet citrus butteriness, it’s an interesting flavor contrast.

Spinach salad

I was craving veggies so I decided to get the spinach salad: baby spinach, goat cheese, warm sherry vinegrette, bacon, dates, hazelnuts.  An excellent large salad, this was just what I wanted.  Healthy greens, meaty bacon for protein, hazelnuts for crunch, dates for a little sweetness…very well balanced.  Maybe not the healthiest salad, but I did get my veggies!

Duckaroni

I also was craving mac n’ cheese and heard nothing but great things about the version Urban Solace serves.  The duckaroni is a mac n’ cheese made with blue cheese, duck confit, roasted garlic, arugula, and scallions.  You can order it as a side or as a main dish; I opted for the side since I had the salad.  This was fantastic.  There was a lot of cheese sauce which is a big thing for me as my main complaint for a mac n’ cheese is that it’s not cheesy enough.  I loved the crumb topping.  The blue cheese flavor was surprisingly mild.  The duck was a great addition and the flavor just meshed well.  I’m used to either some sort of shellfish, chicken or bacon/ham being in a mac n’ cheese but duck was a new one for me and I have to say, it was good.

Chicken and Dumplings

Eddie went with the chicken and dumplings and let me steal a couple of bites.  This was excellent and very rich in chicken flavor.  The dumplings weren’t overly dense and soaked in the sauce making for yummy bite after bite.  He polished off his plate for the most part.

We didn’t have room for dessert because all this food stuffed us silly; we even had biscuits leftover!

All the times I have been here, the food has been spot on, both in flavor and execution.  Consistency in deliciousness is just one of the reasons why Urban Solace finds itself on the list of San Diego’s best restaurants.

The service is always friendly and excellent.  As for the prices, I think they are not very expensive for the quality of dining experience you get.

The Catty Critic gives Urban Solace 5 NOMs.  Now if only they would open up here in LA next door to my house…

Urban Solace
3823 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 295-6464
http://urbansolace.net/
Urban Solace on Urbanspoon

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Urban Solace

A new restaurant just opened up in the North Park area – Urban Solace. They specialize in “urban comfort food”.

For appetizers, my party of 5 ordered:
– Warm Cheese Biscuits with Orange-Honey Butter (1 order = 5 biscuits)
– Sonoma Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip, Cornmeal Crackers and Baguettes
– Sweet Potato French Fries, Oregon Blue Cheese Dressing
The biscuits were delicious little calorie nuggets. The orange-honey added a sweetness that complimented the biscuit well. The dip was definitely my favorite appetizer. It was well seasoned and the goat cheese added a nice tartness to the sweetness of the squash. As for the fries, I love sweet potato fries so I was happy with these though they were a little bit over-cooked.

For my entree, I tried their special for the night – sturgeon on layers of wilted spinach and potato. I chose to substitute the potato for veggies. I had never had sturgeon before. It turned out to be a pretty dense white fish like salmon or tuna yet was very mild in flavor. They didn’t overcook the veggies (typical medley of squash, carrots, etc) or spinach which I was happy about as it is a pet peeve of mine and they were well-seasoned and not overly buttered.

Others ordered:
– Butter Braised Local Sea bass, Warm White Beans, Smoked Tomato Jam
– Cider and Molasses Glazed and Roasted half Chicken, Wilted Spinach, Caramelized Parsnips
– Monte Diego: Baked Egg Bread, Smoked Ham, Fontina Cheese, Pear Preserves

The sea bass was a little overcooked as it was rubbery but the tomato jam was heavenly. The chicken ended up being half of a pretty fat chicken and probably more than one person could eat unless you are very hungry. It was moist and flavorful and the molasses wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. The Monte Diego reminded me of a Monte Cristo. They slice their egg bread thickly but there wasn’t so much that that was all you tasted. The preserves seemed to have been mixed with some sort of berry that made for a very tasty sauce.

For dessert, I shared the black cherry soda roasted apple. It was an apple roasted in black cherry soda and served with a slice of french toast and vanilla ice cream. Quite tasty indeed, so much I wanted to lick the bowl. I also had a bite of the key lime tart which was very…er…tart.

The online menu lists the prices and they are reasonable for what you get. The portions aren’t overpoweringly huge so you do end up having room for dessert despite having noshed on appetizers on top of your main meal.

P.S. I recommend the Starboard port as well. Goes quite nicely with the black cherry soda apple dessert.

P.P.S. Sorry, I didn’t think to take pictures when I was there. Next time!

The Catty Critic gives Urban Solace 4 1/2 NOMs.

Urban Solace
3823 30th Street
San Diego, Ca 92104
(619) 295-6464
http://www.urbansolace.net
Urban Solace on Urbanspoon