Urban Cookhouse: Restaurant Showcase

By MADOLINE MARKHAM

Chipotle Braised Pork is an Urban Cookhouse staff favorite. Photos by Madoline Markham.

The Flip Burger and Chuy’s side of the Summit will soon offer Asian food from Tin Drum Café and sandwiches from Which Wich along with recent additions Izzo’s Illegal Burrito and Flat Top Grill. Amidst this landscape of new restaurants, one stands out: Urban Cookhouse, now open next to Claire’s and Pottery Barn.

Unlike the others, Birmingham-based Urban Cookhouse uses local farm produce to create fresh, healthy food that tastes good. Plus, their service is super quick and their fast-casual menu is affordable.

“The Summit is pretty much dominated by national brands,” said Andrea Snyder, who owns the restaurant with her husband, David. “We are really excited to represent Birmingham.”

The couple—both armed with business degrees from the University of Alabama and restaurant experience around Birmingham — opened a Homewood location of Urban Cookhouse on 18th Street in June 2010.

The Summit location will be larger than the original with 80 seats inside and 25 on the patio.

Infused with Latin flavor, their menu features roasted jalapeno vinaigrette on the Pepper Patch Salad, cilantro in their rice pilaf and chipotle flavoring on their braised pork.

Urban Cookhouse’s strawberry lemonade is made from local berries.

Much of their seasonal produce comes from Owl’s Hollow Farm in Gadsden.
In the summer they gather hundreds of gallons of strawberries from Harvest Farm in Cullman to puree and save year-round for their strawberry lemonade, made fresh from lemons (no syrup) daily.

“I think people can tell the freshness of the food,” Snyder said.

As delicious as salads like the Berry Good (greens, tomatoes, spiced pecans, feta and a citrus vinaigrette) are, I really order them for the warm orange roll that accompanies them. There’s no doubt that the decadent Alabama-based Milly Ray rolls are made from scratch.

Their salad varieties are also served as wraps with a choice of one side such as hot cheddar pasta, fruit, garden salad or roasted vegetables. The menu also offers a selection of sandwiches and “fork and knife” plates with meats and sides.

Urban Cookhouse’s kamado-style cookers (think The Big Green Egg: lots of taste, no added fat) are to blame for meat as flavorful as lime-marinated steak that tops the Urban Cowboy sandwich along with caramelized onions and peppers, pepperjack and aioli.

For catered orders, The Down Home is a popular choice with smoked turkey and pineapple ham, hot cheddar pasta, broccoli salad and a warm orange roll. Snyder said catering was available at the Summit location from day one.

With selections like Piggy Mac and Grilled Peanut Butter Fluff, their kids’ menu ranked top in the 2011 Birmingham Magazine Best of Birmingham awards for its nutritional food that tastes good.

In addition to the Homewoood menu, The Summit location will feature the El Cubano, their version of Cuban sandwich, which was created by Summit manager Breanne Kostyk.

Urban Cookhouse also serves beer and wine, and any meal should be rounded out with a Brown Sugar Brownie, a chewy, brownie-guised version of a chocolate chip cookie.

Their Take Home Dinners for four include a meat, two sides and orange rolls for $22.95. You can call in advance to order one, or it can be ready in 5 minutes if you order at the restaurant.

“They are popular to bring to people having babies or after surgery,” Snyder said.

With the increase of plates served at the new location, Snyder said they are looking for more farmers to supply produce to meet demand and she encourages farms out Highway 280 to contact them about the possibility.

Snyder is looking forward to welcoming a new crowd of shoppers, families and business lunch diners to their second location, noting that anyone who takes a 30-minute lunch break can be guaranteed back at the office in time; if you call ahead, your order will be ready when you get there.

“We are excited about all the new customers,” Snyder said.

Urban Cookhouse
250 Summit Blvd. Suite 102
969-6700
www.urbancookhouse.com
Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

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