full review with pictures:
I first made plans to visit Urban Solace over a year ago. It’s not that reservations aren’t that hard to come by, it’s one of San Diego’s most popular restaurants, but a week should secure you a table. It was just one place that I had every intention of visiting during my initial visit to San Diego, but somehow missed before returning to PA.
Well, I finally made it out to Matt Gordon‘s namesake restaurant, and it couldn’t have happened at a better a time. The restaurant just finished with an updating of the interior, and coincidentally some anti-foie ass-hat decided to try and get himself some publicity the night before I visited. He won’t be getting any of the attention he so desperately desires here, but my two dining companions and I would like to thank him for his accidental recommendation.
Seared Artisan Foie Gras, Brandied Cherry Reduction, French Toast, Cress
I don’t want to turn this post into a foie debate, but I will say that for anyone who considers themselves a proponent of environmentalism; trying to start a feud with Urban Solace seems an awful lot like friendly fire. I wonder if said protestor even read about the restaurant..or took a look at the menu aside from one misunderstood ingredient.
Free Raised Strauss Sweetbreads, Mustard Crust, Pickled Chard and Mustard Seed
Moving on, I don’t see sweetbreads on menus nearly as often as I’d like, and if you know anything about veal..let me emphasize the free raised. These had a very light mustard crust which complemented rather than hid the flavor of the pancreas itself. I’m generally not much of a mustard fan, but the various forms in this dish won me over.
Steamed Black Mussels, Potatoes, Bacon Lardon, Herbs, Touch of Cream
Not a bad mussel on the plate. Every shell was open and showing sweet, plump pieces meat. The accouterments spoke for themselves.
Seared Albacore Chop Chop: Avocado, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Peppers, Spiced Pine nuts
There was no shortage of albacore or avocado, which gave a very light- tasting dish a bit more substance. The cucumbers, peppers, and pine nuts added a great textural element that I feel it often times missing from ceviche-esq dishes. Would order again…and again.
Duckaroni: Mac 'n Cheese with Duck Confit, Blue Cheese, Roasted Garlic, Arugula, Scallion
I can see why the duckaroni is a signature item. The noodles and cheese would be enough, but add in huge pieces of duck confit and I only recommend ordering this as a side so there is more room for entrees.
Sumac Rubbed Wild Sockeye Salmon, Quinoa, Spiced Roasted Lemon Butter
Choosing an entree really comes down to what you’re in the mood for. All three were great. However, I wanted to pay special mind to the Wild Salmon, the one that comes “direct from the fishing vessel Vortex in Bristol Bay“
Seared Maple Leaf Duck Breast, Caramelized Brussels and Squash, Root Veg Gratin
I also tried a famed cheese biscuit with orange-honey butter (highly recommended) and that would have to suffice for sweets on this visit. As our waiter was all too happy to remark on the amount of food the three of us had taken down, we thought it best that we give our stomachs a rest…which ended up being about 30 minutes before we saw a sign for frozen yogurt…
"Not Your Momma's Meatloaf", Ground Lamb, Bacon, Figs, Pine Nuts, Feta, Fig Jus, Sweet Potato Mash
I’ll have to leave desserts for my next visit, but I surely sampled enough to see why Urban Solace has become one of the most popular restaurants in San Diego. The space is great, the menu is accommodating to carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, and it’s food that people can feel good about eating.
Ethically sourced meats, sustainable seafood, and regionally sourced ingredients won’t make great dishes alone; but they’re certainly making the ones at Urban Solace that much better.