The word combination ‘contemporary American cuisine’ doesn’t elicit my salivary glands. When I want food, I want delicious food that doesn’t have to be innovative. But the menu at Urban Bar & Grill has me changing my tune.
Urban Bar & Grill’s menu is diverse. There are quesadillas, tuna tacos, flatbreads, pasta, salads, poultry and meats. But the gem in this restaurant is their starter and bar bites menu.
There are separate menus for the bar and rest of the restaurant. Since we were seated at a table, we ordered from the regular menu. With ten items, there’s a lot to choose from: tuna tacos to sliders. We opted to try beet flatbread and filet mignon quesadilla.
I have a new found love for beets so their beet flatbread ($7) had me excited from the first glance. Four portions of flatbread are topped with fig compote, caramelized onion, goat cheese, basil, balsamic glaze and roasted beets. The flat bread added a nice crisp touch that was neither too thick or too doughy. If this was the only thing I was eating this evening, I would be satisfied.
It took some convincing for Paul to eat a slab of beet flatbread but his only consolation was the filet mignon quesadilla ($13). Taleggio and gouda cheese are stuffed into a spinach tortilla. The addition of filet mignon tips and thick-cut sauteed mushrooms bumps up this appetizer to almost a decent-sized meal.
But if you’re in there for a full meal — or have an enormous appetite for both a starter and entree — the restaurant has delicious lineup that isn’t immediately recognized until you take the first bite.
For instance, their polenta crust chicken breast ($24) fits the description of “contemporary American cuisine.” With its balsamic and caper pan sauce topping the crispy chicken crust, it’s reminiscent of chicken piccata. The balsamic glaze echos lemon in the original incarnation but richer. The quinoa helps soak up any remaining glaze on the plate.
On the other hand, I have mixed feelings about their catch of the day when I visited. The local caught halibut with tropical salsa and coconut risotto ($35) seemed to be missing depth. The risotto is a delicious side on its own (who knew the coconut milk, cheese and rice make an amazing combination?) but the halibut and salsa seemed to be a last minute addition. The halibut seemed slightly underseasoned with the salsa bearing the weight for fish.
As for the desserts, there’s an impressive selection from creme brulee to ganache-based sweets. I recommend going for a slice of almond cream cake ($9). Here’s another entry for reimagined Italian food. Clouds of cream are flavored with almond and layered between sponge cake. It’s very much like tiramisu but with almond flavoring instead of coffee. It’s the perfect light offering at the end of the meal.
Urban Bar & Grill hosts a happy hour daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with special on draft beer, Moscow Mules and extensive signature cocktails ($3-5).
Urban Bar & Grill
827 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
*The brunch was courtesy of BAM Communications and Urban Bar & Grill. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.