I’ve long been a fan of Urban Cookhouse’s fresh, local flavor. From my first visit to their original restaurant in Homewood, I knew they had something special going. Then I got to interview one of the owners, Andrea Snyder, several times, including for my book, and I learned exactly how unique and powerful their mission of supporting local farmers and showcasing their ingredients in their food really is. Each location sponsors and supports a local farmers market, and the owners have worked hard to create mutually beneficial agreements with local farmers to ensure they have a steady supply of the freshest ingredients, like the broccoli in their broccoli salad or strawberries for their strawberry lemonade, while the farmers have a guaranteed buyer for the fruits of their labor. Plus, the casual fare is reasonable and just really, really good.
For WRW2017 the Urban Cookhouse at The Summit location is participating for lunch and dinner. I took my grandmother, a perennial Restaurant Week attendee, with me to lunch today where the $10 option gets you the choice of soup or salad with your half sandwich and dessert. We arrived just before the lunch hour, which was a good call, because the dining area quickly filled up with a steady lunch crowd, which the friendly employees all handled with smiles, like they’re used to the bustle.
I love a soup and salad lunch, especially in the winter, so I chose the Roasted Red Pepper Soup to accompany my Turkey Crunch sandwich. The soup was well pureed but with enough bits of pepper left to feel hearty, and the spice was just right, mild and warming. I love tomato soup generally, and this reminded me of my favorite homemade version but with the red pepper flavor really shining. My sandwich was excellent as well. Urban Cookhouse cooks all their meats on a Big Green Egg, which insures you get great roasted flavor with less fat. The Turkey Crunch sandwich features a thick slice of smoked turkey, provolone, tomato, hot-sweet mustard, and the perfect crunchy marinated slaw on grilled wheat bread. Warm, smokey, melty, and crunchy with a hint of acid and mustard heat is pretty much the best combination of all great sandwich elements.
My grandmother opted for the Cream of Broccoli Soup and Chicken Salad Sandwich. The broccoli soup is a staple on the menu, and I must have looked pitiful after the first spoonful my grandmother let me try because she agreed to switch bowls with me halfway through. Creamy but with plenty of large broccoli bits and a hint of aged cheese, this soup would make an excellent meal all by itself. Both soups were so good, I had a hard time choosing my favorite, so I’m glad I got equal portions of both, and I’m glad this is always available. The chicken salad was my favorite kind, chock full of meat, well seasoned, and it comes on a sandwich of wheat bread with lettuce and tomato garnish. We both made such good choices for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed our meal, but there are so many other excellent options on the WRW and regular menu (like the BALT, chipotle braised pork, and pineapple ham and cheddar sandwiches) that you’re destined to find something you fall in love with as well.
Dessert was a lovely addition to our meal. Housemade Brown Sugar Brownies, think thick, cakey chocolate chip cookies, like a blondie, were tender and melty, just the right touch of chocolate and sweet. But Urban Cookhouse is also known for selling Millie Ray’s Orange Rolls, which come as a side to some dishes but would be a nice meal-ending treat as well. These locally produced sweet rolls are coated in a crispy orange and sugar glaze and make you want to eat more than just one.
You basically have no excuse not to visit Urban Cookhouse. They love and live local, the food is incredibly reasonable, especially for how good it is, and now there are about to be four locations around Birmingham – Homewood, The Summit, Crestline, and Downtown. Feel good about your food choices and make your mouth happy in the process.
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.