urban bar & grill / downtown san diego

I was recently invited to check out Urban Bar & Grill in Downtown San Diego. They recently introduced a few new menu items as well as a new Bar Bites menu. Jake was my partner in crime once and again and we turned it into a little date night for the two of us!

We parked over at Horton Plaza since Urban Bar & Grill is just a block or two over in the Gaslamp. Even though Horton Plaza now only offers free validation with a $10 purchase, a friend of mine let me know that if you go into Nordstrom’s they will validate your parking pass for free for three hours. Score.

We were able to pick our own table and I found a spot inside in the back with more lighting. A well lit spot is always where I want to sit!


We were given some warm bread to start. I think it kind of looks like a bouquet of bread, bursting out of the little mini fry basket it was in. Or … is that just me? Please tell me you see it.


If this thing had wheels on it, it could also double as a mini shopping cart.


Here’s Jake, getting his bread prepped with some olive oil and vinegar.


[charcuterie board / $14]

Also to start things off: a meat and cheese board. I’m sure you have never in your life seen this on my blog before, right? Ha ha ha.

I didn’t even get the names of all of the cheeses but we definitely had a wine soaked cheese (which is that pretty marbled purple one below), a blue cheese and two other soft, creamy cheeses.


I like how they wrapped the meats up on the board – it makes it look prettier (and again… kind of bouquet like if you ask me). The meats were:prosciutto + dry sausage + sopressata + bresaola.

It also came with some honeycomb, a dijon mustard, some crostini (which could have used a little more time on the grill) and a variety of crackers. I always love it when places mix it up for the boards with different kinds of crackers and breads so you can have different tastes and textures to go with the cheeses. Yum!


[braised short rib sliders – slowly cooked short rib + chimichurri coleslaw + garlic aioli / $10]

We also opted to try out the braised short rib sliders. Our waiter told us they used to make regular sliders (with little beef patties) but recently changed to the braised short ribs. I loved the mini brioche buns the sliders were on – they were toasted and had a nice outer crisp and held all of the innards together. The meat was super, fall apart tender and I didn’t even mind the coleslaw, it gave a nice balance to the slider.

I did find the short rib to be very rich though, especially since it had it’s juices accompanying it. I gave the rest of my slider to Jake for prompt devouring on his part.


[truffled mac & cheese with bacon / $9]

To go along with our entrees, we shared a bit of this truffled mac & cheese. We seem to always order it, like a moth to a flame. This version was just okay – it seemed like it needed more cheese sauce to me.


[rosemary lamb chops – sautéed heirloom spinach + rosemary demi glacé + balsamic reduction / $33]

I ordered the lamb chops since I adore lamb. It came with a generous portion of three chops. There’s some fancy pants veggies on the other side that are hiding. It had a mixture of summer veggies, like squash, green beans, carrots and brussel sprouts (which I don’t really care for).

The lamb chops were cooked well.. but I found the rosemary demi glacé to be a little too overpowering for my tastes. I wish I had asked for that on the side instead. I seem to be really sensitive to demi glacés, I usually find them to be too strong and intense. The rosemary was a tad too strong here, but the meat itself was really lovely.


[sterling silver boneless rib eye with chipotle honey glaze – $30]

This comes with a roasted red pepper relish and fries, but Jake asked to sub the red peppers for sauteed veggies instead (same as mine). He got the fries, too, but french fries are french fries. Nothing exciting to see there.

He got his steak cooked to a perfect medium rare and after one bite, I was extremely jealous of his dish.

The chipotle honey glaze really elevated this rib eye to the next level, creating a beautiful infusion of flavors that I really loved. It was sort of a sweet, touch of spice, glaze that was just really amazing. I kept asking Jake for another bite! I would no doubt come back just to have this steak and glaze again, it was that good!


[berry key lime pie]

Dessert time! Only one item is made in house (below) and the rest of the desserts are made from local bakeries/shops. This berry key lime pie really caught my eye when I saw it on the sampler tray, but sadly the flavors just didn’t do it for me. I don’t usually like hybrid desserts so I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea. The key lime is such a strong flavor it should really stand alone and not be infused with sweet berries, which just ended up tasting too tart for my liking. I didn’t really like the texture of the dessert, either, which was sort of a cross between a cake and a pie. There was a spongy kind of middle with the berries and a crust-like thing going on the outside and I just didn’t like any part of it. Oh well.


[house made vanilla bean white chocolate creme brulee]

The house made creme brulee was nice, though not really mind blowing in any way. It still tasted like almost like any other creme brulee I’ve had, except the sugar crust didn’t seem quite as developed as at other places. Still, it had a nice base and was quite creamy and I liked it way more than that other dessert.

Story Time!

About half way through dinner, there was a lady who came by with a basket of roses – you know, the Rose Lady! She looks to the guys to see if they would like to buy a flower for their lady friends. She asked Jake if he’d like to buy one and he passed and said no, thank you. I wistfully looked at the roses and watched her walk away. When I turned back, Jake looked at me and said, “What?” and I defensively said I was just admiring the roses and how large they looked. I thought no more of it.

A few minutes after that Jake excused himself to go to the restroom. I noticed he’d been gone for awhile and was just about to wonder where he’d gone to when he came back to the table with a pretty single red rose for me.


Isn’t he the sweetest?


The rose smelled so nice and was so beautiful! It was a nice little surprise in the middle of our date night!

All in all it was a lovely evening out. If I could have bottles of the chipotle honey glaze to take home, I would do it just so I could put it on other delicious things. But as it is, I’ll just have to venture back here for more of that delicious steak!

Urban Bar & Grill
827 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

Urban Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Urban Bar & Grill from Bam Communications. Our meal was complimentary and I was not further compensated for this review. All opinions expressed here are my own.


mary likes baking.

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