Urban Bistro: a tasty, hidden lunch spot
by Tim | March 2, 2011
Urban Bistro is located at 3817 NW Expressway, Suite 110, in the ground floor of the IBC Bank building (map). They are open 11am to 2pm Monday through Friday. Call them at 405.778.8288 or visit their Facebook page.
We always enjoy highlighting places that are somewhat hidden or off the beaten path. Recently, our review of 4U Cafe introduced a pretty awesome grill serving great onion burgers and more from its hidden location inside a gun shop. And, of course, there’s the shady restaurant series which has brought attention to many tasty treasures in unlikely spots.
Today, we’re bringing you a tasty, hidden lunch spot. It’s not shady, but it is a bit difficult to find (unless you happen to work in the same building). But make the effort to discover Urban Bistro and you’ll be rewarded with some fresh, quality food in a quiet and comfortable atmosphere. Plus, you’ll be able to impress your friends with your knowledge of a place they never knew existed.
First, you have to find it. Most likely, you’re familiar with what I call the “IBC Bank building” on NW Highway, near Portland (I believe the official name of the building is the Caliber Center). You need to park on the north side of this building and enter through a door on the exterior of the northwest side. From a distance, the door looks unmarked, but as you get closer, you will be reassured by the Urban Bistro logo that becomes visible.
One of the things I like best about Urban Bistro is the atmosphere. It’s quite surprising. Once you walk through the door, you enter a very simple, yet nicely-designed and comfortable dining area. The first time I ate at Urban Bistro it was a very hot summer day, yet inside it was nice and cool which impressed me given the fully glass exterior walls. It’s also very quiet and calm, which makes it great for lunch meetings.
The food is surprising as well. In the building where I work, we’ve had a few dining establishments come and go, and most of them offered standard and very uninspired burgers, tacos and such. But Urban Bistro is not your typical office-building food. The menu isn’t large, but it offers a host of fresh and unique soups, salads, sandwiches and other specialties.
I chose the Crab Cake Sandwich ($8) on my first visit. It’s served on focaccia with roasted tomatoes, spinach and chipotle aioli and it comes with your choice of house-made potato chips or sweet potato fries. I chose the potato chips and I really enjoyed this meal. The crab cake wasn’t spectacular. It was fine, but what really made the sandwich was that focaccia bread and the combination of toppings. Great flavor and great texture. The house-made chips were good as well.
I also had a cup of the Cream of Mushroom soup ($3), the soup of that day, and it was very good. I thought it was on par with some of the higher-end varieties around town, such as the one at Paseo Grill.
My dining partners that day both had the Magnolia BLT ($6), served on focaccia with avocadoes and jalepeno relish. They had both eaten here before and raved about this sandwich. I’ll have to try it another time. Did you see that price? $6 including choice of chips or fries. A pretty good value, IMO. Of course, the BLT is one of the least expensive items on the menu.
Now, my second visit to Urban Bistro was not as stellar. I had the Upscale Burger ($7), which is served on that terrific focaccia bread with greens, roasted tomatoes and balsamic onions. Again, the bread and the toppings were the star here. Good flavor, but the meat was pretty dry and the whole thing was tough to eat.
My wife had the quiche of the day ($8) which she thought was fair. It was pretty dry as well. However, the mixed greens and fresh fruit served with it were good and very pretty on the plate.
My biggest disappointment at Urban Bistro was with the sweet potato fries. I love sweet potato fries so I opted to try them on my second visit. These had a very tough and wax-like exterior, making them very difficult to eat and not very tasty. This was unfortunate, but luckily you have the option of the house-made potato chips, which are very good, so I recommend sticking with them.
There are still quite a few things on the menu at Urban Bistro that intrigue me, so I will be back to try more options. Despite a few items that I wish had been better, there is enough good stuff happening here that I think it is worth your attention. For a fresh, healthy lunch alternative in a quiet and comfortable atmosphere, I think Urban Bistro delivers. So, now that you know about it, give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.
See more photos from Urban Bistro in our Facebook Photo album.