Urban Solace in North Park, San Diego

I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to experience one of San Diego’s best restaurants.  We dined at Urban Solace yesterday to celebrate our 22nd anniversary and happily experienced comfort food at it’s finest.  The restaurant is located in  North Park’s main drag near Hillcrest, South Park and University Heights, and just north of Downtown San Diego.  Chef Matt Gordon’s commitment to organic, sustainable and local produce enhances the restaurant’s appeal.

We walk by the bar with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) on the wall and get to our cozy patio table with heated lamps.

Our first appetizer was The “Original” Watermelon, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Pine Nuts, Feta, Currants, Basil, Mint, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

This salad is a  quintessential summer classic.  The watermelon was “in season” fresh, with great texture from the pine nuts, feta and currants.  It is a fantastic combination of layered flavors – sweet, nutty, crunchy and creamy.  Very well done!

The Sassafras Marinated White Shrimp and Chili-Infused White Corn Grit Cakes were next.  The dish arrived with 4 spicy, blackened crunchy shrimp accompanied with rich creamy grits … sheer Southern goodness.

For my entree, I chose the Niman Ranch Chuck burger with Aged White Cheddar, Smoked Tomato Jam, House Sauce, Bibb Lettuce on an Egg Bun.  This burger was packed with flavor.   Well seasoned beef accented with herbs and smoky tomato jam are balanced in pure harmony.  The skin on, hand cut fries were a mix of crunch and soft with home made ketchup free of high fructose corn syrup.  The burger was definitely in my top 10 ever!

Connie ordered the market fresh Halibut with Creamed Organic Grits, Roasted Summer Veggies, Sumac Butter, Charred lime.  Another classic summer dish bursting with flavors – fresh meaty fish, hearty grits and crunchy vegetables.

This meal was made even more special by Restaurant Manager Jeff who is a true gentleman.  He took the time to talk to us about the Chef Gordon’s philosophy, wished us well and served us complimentary dessert.  And such a sweet course it was.  Thank you Jeff for your true hospitality!

The first one was called Les’s S’more! Toasted Graham Crust, Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut-Almond Butter, Home made Malted Milk Marshmallow.  This was a luxurious little gooey treat … every little bite was pure heaven.

The “Not So Red” Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese and Cocoa Nib Frosting was hands down the best cake I have ever had.  Rich, decadent, moist, velvety, chocolatey mouth watering goodness.

Is this the face of satisfaction?  Heck yeah – this was evolved comfort food that satisfies the soul!

It was a beautiful night and we decided to walk the North Park neighborhood.  It just so happens that the Ray At Night Art Walk was on.  It is San Diego’s longest running monthly artwalk with new art by local and nationaly known artists at the over 25 gallery and business venues.  Here’s what the street scene appeared …

Ray At Night promo poster.

Inside one of the galleries … visitors could write and draw with sharpies on the wall.  I made my mark with Richie Rich’s face.  Can you spot it?

See it now? 🙂

Real art on street walls …

John Lennon and Yoko Ono … Imagine.

The VW Bus … So Cal iconic.

Good night from North Park!  By the way, look for Chef Gordon’s new location in Encinitas.  Coming soon to North County named Solace and The Moonlight Lounge.  Can’t wait!

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