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Rumors of a new-ish dessert menu led me to Urban Solace. I guess you could call something that came out in May “new,” since sometimes it takes a while to stay on top of things. Regardless, I thought perhaps some kicked-up pastry prep might put a fresh coat of polish on the neighborhood favorite. The restaurant’s style of smart comfort food hasn’t changed much at all. Not that it has had to. It’s managed to remain fresh by rotating dishes around the menu, but interesting pastry is in perpetual short supply all across town, so the thought of something novel drew me like a moth to a lamp.

From a kitchen known for unexpected cleverness, I expected more invention on the pastry menu. Puddings and cobblers are tasty, but they’re items that chefs put on menus when they’re pressed for time and don’t have skilled pastry cooks about to make actual desserts. Anybody can bake a ramekin full of fruit or custard. I tried the strawberry coffee cake, which was more bready than cakey, and more boring than anything. The “peanut butter cup” sounds novel, but it’s really just a chocolate and peanut butter layer cake.

Why not turn the savoir faire that goes into the monthly veggie tasting menus towards dessert?

It’s hard to fault Urban Solace on anything, however, as the restaurant is generally excellent. Underwhelming pastry doesn’t help the restaurant, but it doesn’t really hurt it, either. In fact, the “meh” desserting experience found salvation in a most excellent selection of Amaro behind the bar.

Amaro, Italian bitter cordials that find favor at European tables as post-prandial digestives, are truly underutilized in American restaurants. Urban, for whatever reason, stockpiles a wide selection of the wonderful liquors, even going so far as to age their own Fernet, a process that imparts a musky/minty funk to the dark spirit. Additionally, the bar staff has some ideas about serving a glass of Amaro. Ramazzotti with just a few ice cubes and a twist of orange peel? Excellent.

Looking behind the bar, I saw quite a few random bottles of Amaro hanging out in the shadows. Some (if not all) of them are going into the restaurant’s signature cocktails, but diners should think seriously about dabbling in a Cynar aperitif, or an Averna digestif, or both. It would be wonderful to see other restaurants follow suit, encouraging guests to take in a small digestive after a meal. The custom could easily find a home in local dining rooms, and we’d be that much better of for it!

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Comments
4

Why, Ian? Because I'm bitter enough!

Sept. 12, 2013

Breaking news: Scott Marks drinks Fernet. Causes bitterness singularity. End of world as we know it!

Sept. 12, 2013

In Argentina they drink Fernet & Coke by the gallons!

Sept. 13, 2013

Very delightful combo. I like Fernet with a splash of club, too.

Sept. 16, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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