Belly to Belly or All Natural Bluegrass Fed Brunch

Smack dab on the middle of 30th street in North Park’s Restaurant Row, Urban Solace lies behind the facade of a French Quarter front. While the N’awlins style building makes it easy to spot among it’s surrounding peers, the hardest part about deciding to eat here is passing up all of the other noteworthy establishments that lay claim to the area. However, if you manage to avoid temptation and make it through the moderately confusing quadruple door system of Urban Solace, be assured you'll find a few of the most interesting, gourmet dishes and mightily mixed drinks around. Prepare to walk a fine line between chichi and casual.

Hostesses seemed pleasant and greeted us before any of the four doors behind us had a chance to shut. Word on the street is that most guests will be in for a long wait before getting a seat at Urban Solace, barring a reservation. However, the brunch Gods smiled upon us and the stars seemingly aligned on our Sunday morning adventure as we were seated immediately. Inside, of course, as the outside patio was already packed; the crowd swinging and bouncing to the sounds of the live, acoustic Bluegrass band. Make no mistake about it, this was a “Bluegrass Brunch” – just as advertised. Unfortunately, the music inside consisted mostly of clattering dishes and mindless morning chatter, but we were still able to catch a few notes when the wait staff hustled through the doors dividing us from the patio party.

The cozy, neutral decor helped to put us at ease, while white cloth napkins and well-dressed servers reminded us that this joint was no hole in the wall. Table top settings took hints from similar modern, hip restaurants. I mean, sugar packets on the table – sure. Sugar cubes on the table? That’s more like it. At least classics like salt and pepper also made an appearance. Without their usual shakers, of course. Let’s be honest, that is sooo 1950’s. Am I right? Instead, they were scattered inside small pinch pots which allowed you to look ever-so-elegant and refined as you sprinkle them over your entree. Perhaps a bit more like a bizarre culinary alchemist. A set of refreshing mimosas were promptly ordered, as this was a brunch and, well, what else do you really have to look forward to at brunch? Plenty, as we would come to learn.

I went for the Belly Benny. A new twist on an Eggs Benedict, with much less plebeian ham and much more Braised Van de Rose Duroc Pork Belly. It may sound a bit different, it is, and this was a Benedict unlike any I have ever had. Not only did it mark the start of my ongoing craving for pork belly, but the house chili sauce was unbelievable. A perfect mix of spice and creaminess to get the job done. Coupled with fluffy eggs and just-crispy-enough house biscuits, this is a damn near unbeatable brunch menu item. The fresh fruit on the side didn’t hurt, either.

The lady unleashed her inner brunch demon and went for the Butter-Pecan French Toast. This entree was also accompanied by fresh fruit but upped the ante significantly by and adding two aptly sized maple sausage links. The entire plate was dusted with powdered sugar, the glitter of cuisine, creating a mouth-dropping presentation that was almost a shame to eat. The whole thing looked great until it was promptly drooled over. Apparently, it tasted fantastic as well. At least I think that's what she garbled whenever she popped up from the plate. Powdered sugar covered her face like a much sweeter Tony Montana.

While some of the more complex choices on the menu at Urban Solace beg for a quick reference search on Wikipedia (I still don’t know what the hell is “Braised Van de Rose Duroc” means), know that you can trust the expert chefs here. The kitchen crew knows what they’re doing, what they’re serving and how to cook it to perfection. Urban Solace is an ideal place to take a leap of faith. Dive headfirst into their menu and prepare your taste buds for an unfamiliar take on a classic dish. Whether it's a house specialty drink or a particularly intriguing entree, we imagine it would be difficult to wind up disappointed.