Urban Cookhouse was Brad’s choice this week for the BLC. The Homewood location has been open since June 2010 and they recently opened a location at the Summit. We took advantage of the strangely warm weather between Christmas and New Years and dined outside of the Homewood location.
Greg: I enjoy chicken salad. Fellow BLC member, BRH, knew this when he selected Urban Cookhouse for this week’s selection. He highly recommended the chicken salad. I gave it a go with a side of Hot Cheddar Pasta. The inside of the restaurant was very nice and crowded at lunchtime. We decided to enjoy a warm December afternoon by dining outside at the tables provided. Featured in the middle of Downtown Homewood, this proved to be a great spot for people watching. I am a sucker for eating outside, it improves the experience for me (most of the time). The food was brought out in a very timely fashion by the server. While delivering the food, she spilled a beverage in my genital direction. Using cat like reflexes, I avoided a soaking. She was very apologetic and cleaned it up very quickly and professionally. I was impressed. The food itself was pretty good, but not out of this world. The chicken salad used high quality ingredients, but lacked spice and flavor. I enjoyed the meal, but compared to other chicken salad sandwiches around town, it was middle of the road. The atmosphere and service bring the rating of this establishment up. I will return and get something else on the menu next time. Overall: 3 out of 5 Bros
Blake: I’ve heard a lot of hype from Urban Cookhouse, and I never quite understood what their menu offered because their name isn’t very distinguishable. It’s the same type of hype El Barrio is getting early on, but I was pretty clear El Barrio would be serving Mexican dishes. I chose the Chipotle Braised Pork Sandwich with a side of Hot Cheddar Pasta and a Strawberry Lemonade. We were forced to dine outside because of limited indoor seating. While I realize I am in the minority, I do not enjoy eating outside – too many factors are at play: wind, cold, rain, bright sun (as was the case in this instance) which make it harder for me to enjoy my meal.
The dish was served on two slider buns. The chipotle sauce and the pickle were a nice touch, and the sauce served on the side was a nice addition. But the meal was much too small. When, by comparison, I can get a massive Bama Style pork sandwich from Moe’s, two sides and a drink for the same price or less, it’s hard to justify this menu item. It was very tasty, especially the combination of sauces, and the Hot Cheddar Pasta (or, as it’s called in Rogersville, macaroni and cheese) was also very good. The lemonade, brewed in Cullman, Alabama with crushed ice was the highlight.
Verdict? It’s all just too much. These “designer restaurants” all have a nice sign and quaint atmosphere, and can even offer a decent meal. But I feel like my bill is inflated because of the pretty sign and the fancy things on the walls. If I am going to spend $10 on a meal, I better leave the restaurant debating on if I even want to bother with dinner. In this case, I felt I could still eat more. I was driving on 65 the other day and saw a Cracker Barrel sign offering $5.99 lunch specials. That’s what I’m talking about. Lunch specials. And I have never left Cracker Barrel hungry. The service, despite the server spilling a drink on Greg, was very good. And fast. The food was better than okay. But the portions cost big points here.
Overall: 3 out of 5 bros
Brad: Urban Cookhouse is a restaurant that prides itself as using only produce and other items from local farmers. I wish more restaurants did this. Sure, you may pay more of a premium, but they are helping the local economy. I had eaten at Urban once before, and I thoroughly enjoyed their chicken salad (their signature item) and roasted vegetables. I was eager to share my find with the rest of the bros. Having tried the first item on the menu previously, I debated to try something new. This time, I went with the second item – the Chipotle Braised Pork Sandwich, with a side of Hot Cheddar Pasta. The sandwich is served on two slider rolls – a disappointment. While there is a generous amount of pork and the homemade pickles are a nice touch, the sauce tasted more chipotle than BBQ and was a tad overwhelming. The pasta was a nice dish. Not sure how well it went with the BBQ, but that’s my fault. Joey left after completing a portion of his salad and Greg and I enjoyed the remnants as my meal was far from filling. A highlight was the fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade, made from berries grown in Cullman. Subtle and sweet, it was a refreshing beverage and, disappointingly, the highlight of the meal. The location on the strip in Homewood makes for great people watching, and our server was apologetic and quick to clean up when she spilled Joey’s tea. Can’t lose bro points there. However, the food was rather pedestrian this time. I look forward to returning, though, to enjoy the chicken salad once again. Overall: 3 out of 5 bros
Joey: Though I lean left on most political and social issues I have never really given a shit about eating local. I understand the environmental benefits of doing it, but could care less about the societal impact of buying a tomato from Anniston instead of California. I’ll pay a premium on some things like fine French wine, but not tomatoes. Urban Cookhouse advertises with a “Buy Local, Eat Urban” slogan, but the menu doesn’t not mention where the items were sourced. For all I know, the tomato in my salad could have come from Mexico instead of some local source. But it’s not like I can tell the difference while eating it. (“mmmm, tastes like red clay. Love these Alabama tomatoes!!”) But Urban Cookhouse seems to be thriving using a localvore marketing concept in the most conservative congressional district in the country. I don’t know how.
Judging purely on the food and service my Pepper Patch salad was fine. I made the dumb mistake of forgetting to say “No Onions”, so no bros will be deducted for my dislike of onions. The person who brought our food out knocked my tea over, but cleaned it up and brought me a fresh one. Since I won’t judge the place on the back story of the tomatoes and score based on food and environment: Overall: 4 out of 5 bros
COMPOSITE BRO SCORE: 3.25 out of 5 bros