San Diego, California โ€“ Urban Solace

Restaurant: Urban Solace
Cuisine: American/Comfort Food/Eclectic/West Coast
Last visited: October 2, 2010
Location: San Diego, California (North Park)
Address: 3823 30th St
Price Range: $10-20, $20-30USD

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5.5 (based on lunch and what I tried)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Executive Chef Matt Gordon
  • American comfort food with gourmet twists
  • Contemporary food/atmosphere
  • West Coast flavours
  • Fresh, local ingredients
  • Made from scratch recipes
  • Reasonably priced
  • Popular to locals
  • Wine/Beer/Cocktails
  • Sunday brunch/dinner
  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Patio seating available
  • Sunday brunch: 10am – 2:30pm
  • Mon – Thurs:11:30 am – 10:00 pm
  • Fri & Sat: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm

**Recommendations: Famous Cheese Biscuits, Sonoma Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip, House Burger, Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich, and Duckaroni. The Roasted Pork Loin Sandwich and The “Original” Watermelon Salad are supposed to be good too, but I didn’t try them. Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll is also great for brunch.

There are some types of food that Americans will naturally do better, and when it comes to classic American comfort food with a twist, Urban Solace has it nailed. Being from Vancouver, BC, we have a handful of restaurants that serve this type of food, but definitely not to this degree. I love creativity and innovative recipes and that’s what I got at Urban Solace. It’s American home cooking at it’s best and I felt like it’s how Ina Garten from Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa would approach things. Lots of butter, lots of cheese and lots of everything! I was very impressed with the items we ordered and it’s a must try in my books.

They have a rather extensive menu and most of the dishes are gourmet takes on traditional recipes. The portions are big (for Canadian standards) and the quality is high with fresh and local ingredients. Everything is made in house and they also offer hand crafted beers, west coast wines and specialty cocktails. The prices are actually very reasonably and I don’t think we have anything like this in Vancouver… at least not at this level in terms of taste, quality, portion and price. I don’t have lots to compare to but so far this rates high. It’s sophisticated and trendy without being pretentious and overwhelming.

Note: We had a local friend take us here and he did know the owner, thus I I can’t “rate” the service or overall experience. As always, I’ll still be honest and state my biases where possible. I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t believe in.

On the table:

**Famous Cheese Biscuits –

  • Our Famous Warm Cheese Biscuits with Orange-Honey Butter $5
  • These are a must try and they’re available throughout the day and even at dinner.
  • These biscuits are pretty filling, but it’s impossible to resist them. It’s one of the best I’ve had, although I can’t say I’ve had many.
  • It’s these incredibly flaky biscuits and they’re very soft with a crispy and cheesy exterior.

  • The inside is super moist and incredibly tender and buttery, however without the orange honey butter it surprisingly doesn’t taste like much. The texture was awesome but it’s not really salty or sweet and I couldn’t really taste the cheesiness in the biscuit, just on the top.
  • The orange honey butter could have been stronger, but it helped give the biscuit a fresh flavour and just more flavour overall.

**Sonoma Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip – 5/6

  • Sonoma Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip, Pine Nuts, Cornmeal Crackers and Baguettes $8USD
  • Yummy!! It’s piping hot and it’s a fluffy butternut squash dip with a creamy cream cheese flavour. It doesn’t have a strong goat cheese taste, which is good because I’m not a fan of too much goat’s cheese. It’s sweet, savoury and nutty from the pine nuts and there’s a slight spiciness at the end which almost made it seem a bit Mexican in flavour.
  • I could taste a great balance of cheese and squash and it would have been even better with a crunchy Parmesan gratin crust.

**Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich – 5/6

  • Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich with Fresh Basil and Tomato, Creamy Tomato-Fennel Soup. Served with sweet potato french fries. $9.50USD
  • It’s available for all meals because it’s such a popular favourite.
  • The creamy tomato-fennel soup was fresh, creamy and thick and made with real pureed tomatoes, but the taste was quite mediocre. I think Romer’s Burger Bar does a better job on the same idea and they serve it with mini grilled cheese croutons ๐Ÿ™‚
  • The bread is so crispy and buttery and they butter all sides of the bread for that extra crunch, but it’s actually not that oily.

  • This thing is loaded with cheese but the photo doesn’t really show. You can taste it though because they use strong cheese and 4 different kinds. I could taste Fontina, Aged White Cheddar, maybe some Mozzarella and another I couldn’t pinpoint. It’s super creamy, stringy, ooey gooey cheesy and just delicious!
  • There’s a nice whole tomato and the basil is a great idea, but I just wish is was better dispersed. The basil enhanced the taste of the cheese and it just made it more aromatic.

Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich – 2.5/6

  • Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich, Arugula, Tomato, Lemon Thyme Aioli, Grilled Onions, Grilled Egg Bun. Served with sweet potato french fries. $9.25USD
  • It was 2 massive pieces of tuna! This is something I think we do better – I mean Vancouver.
  • Besides the potion and the thickness of the tuna I actually thought it was a very mediocre sandwich, or burger. I like the ahi tuna burger better at Joey’s.

  • This one was very fresh, and the tuna was nicely seared, but it was really thick and overwhelming and quite bland with not much of anything else going on. It needed more of a sauce or maybe even some avocado or tangy pineapple salsa or something. I couldn’t taste the lemon Thyme aioli and the flavour was too subtle for so much tuna. I kind of felt like I was eating a thick slab of seared tuna sashimi with a smoky rub.

**House Burger – 6/6

  • House Burger: Ground Niman Ranch Beef, Aged Cheddar, Smoked Tomato Jam, Egg Bun. Served with sweet potato french fries. $9.25USD
  • I was told by our local burger fan that this was one of the top three best burgers in San Diego. I trust Mr. Burger man because this burger was damn good, it’s also one of their famous items.
  • I can’t say I’m crazy about their sweet potato french fries which were crunchy instead of crispy and seemed a bit over fried and wrinkly.

  • The burger itself was divine! The meat was ordered medium rare and it was so juicy, tender, soft and flavourful. It held together, and felt apart in your mouth with each bite.
  • It’s a very savouryย  burger with salty bites of thick cut crispy bacon and a very sweet and tangy tomato jam. It’s definitely 70% beef tasting and the quality is high although a bit salty. It comes with a house made barbeque sauce which I wasn’t crazy about and it tastes like a fresh and chunky tomato relish.
  • The egg bun was secondary and although the thickness was good the brioche bun at Romer’s Burger Bar in Vancouver, BC is better.

**Duckaroni – 5.5/6

  • Mac ‘n Cheese, Duck Confit, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Scallions, Roasted Garlic $15.75USD
  • I love mac and cheese and this is a must try and the ultimate in comfort food. This is get me in a lazy boy recliner and leave me to rot comfort food.
  • It’s a super hearty and rich mac and cheese an it’ll send you right to heaven. It’s perfect bribery if you’re questioning whether you’ll pass the gates.
  • It had a perfect layer of crunchy gratin crust that I love and look for in a good mac n’ cheese and it was topped with 3 cubes of Blue Cheese which tasted like salty creamy Feta chunks.

  • Oh god… this duckaroni was loaded with cheese and shredded tender buttery duck confit pieces throughout. They don’t skimp on ingredients anywhere and I’m surprised it’s only $15.75 especially for the quality and portion too. It was much better than the duck confit macaroni and cheese from Bistro Bistrot.
  • This one was generously coated with a nice white creamy cheese sauce and every bite had a piece of duck and wilted arugula. It’s super cheesy with aged white cheddar and the Blue Cheese taste isn’t too strong and it almost comes unnoticed. The mac noodles aren’t overcooked either.
  • I loved this, but it was a bit on the salty side, especially when you got a chunk of cheese from the top.

**Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll – n/a

  • Really Good Home-Made Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting. ย Everyone should start with one of these puppies! $3.50USD Add butter pecan sauce $1!
  • It was a special event this day and they were doing samples of some popular items so I was able to try their cinnamon roll that is popular for brunch.
  • Based on the sample it was a very soft and fluffy and the bun wasn’t too sweet with the right amount of cinnamon which wasn’t overwhelming. The cream cheese frosting was super creamy, soft and quite sweet.

Les’s S’more – n/a

  • Toasted Graham Crust, Bittersweet Ganache, Hazelnut-Almond Butter Homemade Malted Milk Marshmallow $7USD
  • We also got to sample the house made s’more.
  • Based on that it was very rich in chocolate and the crust was very thin and soft and almost like a brown sugar paste. The marshmallow was fresh, but a bit grainy and overall it’s a bit too sweet and too soft in texture for me.
  • Earls in Vancouver, BC also offers a seasonal house made s’more which also comes with ice cream, and I think that’s amazing!


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