Sunday, August 5, 2012

Urban Grub

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Urban Grub
2506 12th Avenue South

Everything about Urban Grub is writ large: multiple patios, two bars and several dining areas. Even the website proclaims the place to be the next star on the Nashville dining scene. If this seems like a turn-off, it’s easy enough to get over it. Inside Urban Grub you’ll find a stylish and yet warm restaurant with plenty of flair. The use of wood in many finishes and forms tones everything down to a comfortable level. If you manage to arrive at off peak times (this place does get busy) you’re whisked to a table and soon you’re settling in and saying, yes, perhaps this too can be 12 South.

The bread basket is simple and yet well done. A buttermilk biscuit at brunch topped with a berry jam is a pleasant way to start the day. Cranberry muffins are also quite welcome at our table. Right now Urban Grub is only open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Start with a well-balanced spicy bloody Mary featuring cayenne salt on the rim. A house salad with bleu cheese is a bit of a hiccup in our morning. While the greens and white cheddar are fine, fried black eyed peas are far too sharp giving the salad an unpleasant crackle. The Country ham is also just too much for a salad- chewy to the point of distraction. I do appreciate the nod to Tennessee and you’ll find Southern flavors all over the menu. Gouda grits have a smoky flavor and a nice little afterburner of spice. Chipotle grits are even smokier and spicier and with a great depth of flavor. Mac and cheese comes to the table baked crisp, thick with cheese and a combo of what appears to be elbow and rigatoni macaroni. It’s a meal in itself and that’s an important thing to mention about Urban Grub. You could easily spend a bunch of money on a lunch or dinner, but you don’t have to. One of those aforementioned sides could easily be the better part of a meal. We, however, are here to serve the readers and so we order up.

Smoked beef tenderloin Benedict is served with a garlic-shallot-mustard hollandaise in a tasty twist. The tender beef is well smoked and smoky is an element you’ll find often on the menu. The eggs are cooked perfectly and buttermilk biscuits provide a southern foundation. They serve several creative Benedict options for weekend brunch. On the lunch side, the club carbonara is basically a deconstructed sandwich turned pasta dish with big chunks of excellent applewood smoked bacon, turkey, tomato, spinach and onion in a light cream sauce.

Okay, there are many positives to this place and only a couple of negatives. The Veggie Eater is chomping at the bit to complain.

Veggie Eater: Let’s cut to the chase and discuss the negatives first which are the silver and dish ware. I wish I was joking. The plates are oddly shaped (curved on the sides-Ed.) and the silverware is very bottom heavy, causing your silverware to attack without provocation. During my first visit, I was amused by the effect. I was not giggling about this during the second visit as no matter how carefully I would place my fork or knife on my plate, they would invariably leap into my lap. (Actually, they just tend to fall off the plate quite easily. I don’t think they intend ill will- Ed.) Thankfully, I’m a wash and wear kind of a person, so no harm, no foul. But things may be different for the folks dressed in their Sunday church finery for brunch. I would imagine more than a few dry cleaning bills have been presented to the management. On our second visit, our waiter told us that he has started having dreams which consist of the sound of forks hitting the concrete floor.

On to other matters at hand. There are limited veggie options on the menu, but many side items are veggie friendly , are large in portion, and served in cast iron cook ware which keeps them warm throughout the meal. As Meat Eater mentioned, the side salad sported the rather bizarre fried black eyed peas, which I warily ate around for fear of breaking a tooth. At brunch, I had the single serve roma tomato strata-the eggs were perfectly cooked and housed basil, peppadew peppers, and regianitto cheese. The peppers lent a lovely subtle sweetness to the dish. The hash brown casserole was really more of home fry casserole, as the potatoes were thinly sliced disks covered in cheese (no meat based soup or stock used here, so safe for ovo-lacto veggie eaters). Next up was the veggie burrito (one of the few veggie entrée options on the menu). The burrito is baked until the tortilla is slightly crispy. Stuffed inside are quinoa, roasted cauliflower and cheese, which was a bit dry. This is topped with a variety of accoutrements, including guacamole (fresh), mustard sauce, and chopped asparagus (a bit stingy in portion). On the side are undressed fresh greens. I found that the toppings were more enjoyable than the burrito itself, but all in all, the various ingredients did play off one another well.

Meat Eater: Owners Billy Inman and Jay Pennington have done well with their latest venture. It’s a solid addition to Nashville dining. Having former Zola owner Deb Paquette create menu items is a fine way to get started and executive chef A. Edgar Pendley has the kitchen humming along nicely. We know it will probably cost a small fortune to replace those plates. But we think this restaurant will be around for years to come and Billy and Jay- you’ll be sparing your wait staff and guests the havoc caused by those falling forks.

We paid $72 with tax, tip and drinks on one lunch visit and $42 for a more modest brunch.

Urban Grub on Urbanspoon


ULIKA BBQ said...

my friend had an idea of creating a magnetic plate to eliminate that issue

Eric and Katie said...

That would be nice....tough though if your watch kept sticking to the plate. Really, though...we can handle normal plates. These diabolically curved plates are evil.

Lesley Eats said...

$72 and $42? For two people at lunch? Whoa.

I have not been in any hurry to go, having heard from nearly everyone who's visited that the service is spotty because they are overwhelmed. Seems like I don't need to make a trip a priority at all.

Eric and Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric and Katie said...

Leslie- I'm pretty much with you on this one...granted Eric availed himself of 2 bloody mary's on the more expensive visit, but I felt in general that the menu items were over priced (case in point, my burrito).

Anonymous said...

@ULIKA BBQ - Looks good on paper, BUT: except for family heirloom "silve"ware, ALL utensils used in the restaurant trade are stainless steel which is (almost) non-magnetic
The $100 rare earth magnetic plates would certainly be an obstacle

Lannae said...

We went there and the service was really bad, but friendly. The kitchen timing was poor. I just got my app, and then they brought out my rare steak. They said they will keep it under the heat lamp until I wanted it, and then it would be a medium steak. I wanted it rare, so I just had them leave it on the table to get cold. Not good. I felt like I needed to rush the app to get to the steak. The right thing to do would be to fire another steak for me later. They unnecessarily sous-vide all but one steak, which was a pet peeve of mine. Just because they have the equipment to sous vide doesn't mean everything should be sous vide. I ordered the only non sous vide steak, and it was expensive. But, the man did not get a steak, and we thought his meal was at a really reasonable price point. Most of the items are a reasonable price point in our opinion, except for the beef. That said, I think the only non-sous-vide steak was good, and I liked the collards side I got with it. Also, I think the Gulf oysters are at an appropriate price point. The enchiladas, we liked. Your bill must have been a good percentage in drinks, or you ordered multiple courses or a beef dish for $72.

Eric and Katie said...

We did get a number of dishes and drinks Lannae, so I agree lunch or dinner could be much cheaper. That's a nice part of the menu- you can be reasonable or you can order large- it can accomodate both.

Lannae said...

OK, I gotta say, we went again, as it is one minute for us to get there and it is so convenient. I will be blogging about this joint sometime soon. Service again was very friendly, and way better than my last visit. There was a hair in my food, and they happily replace my meal for me. I love the frites, and I wish I did not because now that is just more fat calories to my gut, and I will likely order them every time. The chicken bbq and the smoked brisket are really excellent. And I take back what I said about the sous-vide. I got the steak frite, a sous-vide steak, and it was really really good. AND I got half of my dish, and some of the Man's dish to take home and for a whole 2nd meal. Both our entree plates were less then $18, as well as most dishes. We got a ton of food, enough for both of us for 2 meals, so I think it is worth it. Also, for the meat dishes, care is taken to cook them correctly, like the smoked bbq chicken. That chicken took time and care that is well worth $16 for 1/2 chicken and 2 sides (enough to make a whole 2nd leftover dinner). Looking at comparable portions, 1/4 chicken plate at a new hot chicken joint is $8, so double it and get 1/2 chicken and it is $16 for the same volume of food. Anyway, I am still sticking to the appropriate price point for most of the dishes. I personally think certain dishes are worth more because of the time, technique and care the chef has taken to create the food, but to be competitive with other neighboring restaurants, the price point is appropriate.

Lannae said...

We have gone a couple more times (so convenient for days I don't want to cook, or I am coming back from biz travel late and have no time to cook). Last time we were there 3 non-beef entrees and a doz oysters came to $70. I think that is fair for what we got. We have spent more than that for just 2 of us at other area restaurants. Also, each time, the service has gotten better and better. I haven't seen the 1st waitress (the clueless, but dippy friendly) again, and the other staff we met have been really on top of their game.

Yeah, I gotta stop commenting here, and write my own dang blog post.

Lannae said...

Finally made my own Urban Grub blog post :)