If you read about Urban Tavern, you’ll see that it’s often referred to as a gastropub. If you aren’t yet familiar with the term, it’s the combination of gastronomy, meaning the art and science of good eating, and pub, meaning, well, a drinking establishment.
Word origins aside, Urban Tavern is a two-time Michelin recommended gastropub housed within the Hilton Hotel in Union Square. And true to the definition, it is a seamless fusion of fantastic food and crafty cocktails.
My boyfriend and I visited Urban Tavern for a recent date night. It is a sleek restaurant with glass tables, Knoll-esque chairs, and the mascot iron horse displayed prominently. The front area is bright and bustling, with folks gathering around the main bar, while the back section is slightly dimmed and quieter.
We started the meal with cocktails; aviation for him, and a cucumber mint martini for me. I will definitely be seeking out this martini from now on. I ordered the fish du jour, a buttery sea bass served on saffron rice with fava beans and mushrooms. My boyfriend ordered the tavern steak and fries. Next time we go, that is what I’m getting. The house steak sauce on the meat is one of the most flavorful I’ve ever tried, and goes ideally with the tender beef. The fries are also really good, probably on account of this steak sauce.
Although we don’t always leave room for dessert, I read the Urban Tavern dessert menu and knew that I had to try one of their snack cakes. I ordered the red velvet Swiss roll and was pleasantly surprised when our attentive waiter Elton added a lemon poppy seed whoopee pie on the house.
Both $4 snack cakes were unbelievable. I can easily come back to Urban Tavern just for dessert and Illy coffee. The red velvet Swiss roll is a red and white rolled log of cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake. The whoopee pie resembled a small hamburger with poppy seed buns and a lemon custard in the center. For $12, you can get a variety pack of the snack cakes which would also include a coconut custard snowball and a ho ho.
On Mondays, the gastropub has no corkage fee and allows you to bring one bottle of wine per guest. Talk about a good start to your work week!
333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco
Photo credit: Emilia Varshavsky