Whenever Jonathann’s parents come to town, we always try to take them to a great local restaurant. Usually, we try to go to one of our favorite places, but on their last visit, we took them to Urban Grub, somewhere that we had never been. My parents had been a couple weeks earlier and loved it, so we were really eager to try it.
Urban Grub is a fish pit and southern cantina. What does that mean? I’m still not sure. The restaurant prides itself on being unique and diverse, and it truly is–perhaps to the point of being confusing. The menu boasts a massive selection of seafood, southern dishes, mexican dishes, and chops.
This variety has it’s pluses and minuses. Almost anyone could find something that they may like on this menu, but I felt like the Urban Grub was having an identity crisis. But if a restaurant is able to excellently execute all the dishes on their menu, does it really matter if the menu lacks cohesion?
We made reservations because we were visiting on a Saturday night, and Urban Grub was guaranteed to be packed even though the place is HUGE. When we arrived at the restaurant, the hostess attempted to seat us outside. Given the fact that it was over 90 degrees that evening, I politely requested that we be seated inside. At first, we were told that they would not be able to accommodate us even though nobody told us that there was a possibility that we would be seated outside when we made our reservation (we would have chosen to eat elsewhere if someone had. It’s hot, ya’ll); however, the manager came over and encouraged the hostess to seat us at an indoor table. Moral of the story: if you are going to eat at Urban Grub on a particularly hot or cold night, make sure that you have indoor seating guaranteed.
On to the important part, the food. Overall, our experience was very good. The food may not have knocked our socks off (with dessert being the exception), but it was very solid.
We started off with classic margaritas and the half pound of peel and eat shrimp. The margaritas were fabulous. They were fresh and the ingredients were well balanced. I probably could have taken care of the whole pitcher by myself. The peel and eat shrimp were also delicious. Perfectly cooked, seasoned, and chilled on ice. I will warn you, however, a 1/2 pound does not go far. We only got four (very large) shrimp.
I will not neglect to mention that Urban Grub provides gluten free popovers and preserves to start. The popovers were light and fluffy, but I’m not going to lie, I kinda missed the gluten. What can I say? I love my wheat.
All of our entrees were very good as well. I will take one moment to mention that my mother-in-law is allergic to soy. Whenever we eat out, we usually eat at more upscale restaurant because we assume that they are more likely to use olive oil or butter in their cooking. We asked our waiter to check if any of the dishes had soy oil in them. Our waiter was extremely attentive and ran back and forth from the kitchen several times to check. We were surprised to find out that almost every dish had soy oil in it, and even more surprising, that most of the dishes, with the exception of the chops, were not made to order, so chef could not sub in a different type of oil.
Eventually, Jonathann’s mom settled on the special of the day which ended up being the best meal that any of us ordered. It was a spaghetti dish with a light, brothy clam sauce topped with prosciutto. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the dish tasted fresh, not heavy, thanks in part to the addition of some parsley.
Don and I both got the scottish salmon. It was very well cooked and came topped with pistachios, golden raisins, butternut squash sauce, pineapple and a bit of asparagus. I thought that the butternut squash sauce was a strange addition to the dish. Perhaps the chef thought it would ground the citrus of the other ingredients, but I think the pistachios and asparagus did that well enough. The salmon was very light and a great dish for a hot summer day.
Jonathann got the short rib enchiladas. The dish was beautifully composed, and the flavors were very good. The braised short ribs stuffing was lean and tender. Jonathann just wished that there were more of it. While very tasty, the enchiladas weren’t particularly well stuffed.
Because my salmon didn’t come with any sides, I ordered the stone oven mac and cheese. This stuff was perfect comfort food. Butter, cheesey, perfect. Next time, I may just order the mac and cheese.
When my parents had gone to Urban Grub, they had scoped out the banana pudding pie but hadn’t been able to order it. This dessert was amazing. It had a shortbread crust and a roasted vanilla meringue with a vanilla wafer crumble. I was pretty much in heaven. It was a great way to end our meal.