BRW2017: Urban Standard
Lunch today was the first time I've been back in Urban Standard since they reopened after repairing fire damage earlier this year, and I'm happy to report the charming downtown cafe and bakery is just as eclectic and delicious as it always was. I stopped in for the BRW2017 menu, of course, featuring fresh produce supplied by the Urban Food Project. The thing I realized today, sitting at one of Urban Standard's wide wooden communal tables, is that this has been both one of the most delicious and healthiest Birmingham Restaurant Weeks that I've ever participated in ... because of the UFP. If nothing else, hopefully I've made a case for you seeking out restaurants that source locally whenever possible. The food is always elevated.
For my lunch entree, I received the Veggie Ruben, made from Beet "Pastrami," Harvest Roots Ferments sauerkraut, swiss cheese, spicy mayo, and toasted house wheat bread. I'm generally a beet skeptic, but this sandwich was deliciously earthy and tangy, cheesy and a little messy (but well worth it). I didn't miss the meat at all. The sandwich was served with the Seasonal Side Salad, full of Witt Farm tomatoes, cucumbers, shaved shallots, mixed greens, and a sherry vinaigrette. The salad was light and bright, an excellent compliment to the warm and satisfying sandwich, rounding out an incredible vegetarian meal.
Urban Standard has been famous for their cupcakes since they opened, and luckily every BRW lunch comes with your choice of the daily selection. Strawberry and Red Velvet are always very good, but today I decided to try the Peach with Honey Icing in honor of one of my favorite summertime fruits. The cupcake was surprisingly not overly sweet, with a nice floral taste from the honey. The cake had a lovely peach hue and flavor, and the whole concoction was topped with a fresh peach slice. As an added bonus for the cake recipe, I found out that every egg Urban Standard uses is an Alabama farm egg from Gravel Ridge in Blountsville.
Second Avenue would not be what it is today, full of bustling restaurants, bars, and more without Urban Standard. The restaurant has been an anchor to the neighborhood's revitalization, a comfortable spot to meet for a meal, coffee, or to get some work done. As I looked around during lunch today, I saw the same mix of laptops and conversation I've come to expect from Urban Standard, which leaves me happy that this Birmingham favorite is still rocking the same vibe after all this time.
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A proud Birmingham, Alabama native, Emily Brown has long been in on the secret that Birmingham is an incredible food town. When she’s not writing about food, restaurants, and purveyors for Birmingham Restaurant Week, she’s out enjoying new culinary adventures, whether in one of the city’s restaurants or from her own kitchen. Raised equally on a diet of storytelling and great, Southern food, Emily is also the author of Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu, a book about the history of food and restaurants in Birmingham from The History Press.