Urban Hill was one of my top restaurants to watch when it opened late last year. And they have lived up to my expectations. So when I heard that they were launching Urban Hill brunch on the weekends, I have to confess, I got really excited. The menu takes a charming journey from the ocean to Chef Zocco’s native New Mexico, with a sweet taste from childhood thrown in for good measure.
But before we get into the food, we must talk about the most important element of brunch: the cocktails. On the Urban Hill Brunch menu, they are called “restoratives,” which makes me feel so much healthier in my day drinking. Bijan Ghiai, the beverage manager, put together a creative and playful beverage menu that now extends to brunch. My Urban Bloody Mary was salty and sharp with a brush of heat from the horseradish, which I love. I’m always on the hunt for the most savory, spicy Bloody Mary, and this one filled the bill. Bonus points: it was a work of art. Topped with a shiso leaf, pickled Spanish piparras peppers, and, best of all, a smoked sardine, it checked every savory box. I would come back for this cocktail alone. Another unique restorative at Urban Hill Brunch is the Café Brûlot which fed my morning coffee addiction and paired it with cognac. The spiced amaretto crema and mole bitters rounded things out.
Urban Hill is known for its seafood bar and is fully available for brunch. We had the Shrimp Cocktail with their yellow pepper cocktail sauce (which I could drink). They also have oysters, which I’ve ordered every other time I’ve been in. It makes for a refreshing start.
The Urban Hill brunch menu is divided into sweet & rich salads, savory, and sides. This is really where Chef’s New Mexico roots shine through. You’ll find delicious nods and notes to southwestern cuisine – from blue corn crepes, a sweet cornbread skillet, green chile eggs benedict, and braised red chile pork. Speaking of the red chile pork, the delivery method was via the Smothered Adovada Burrito (adovada being the particular New Mexico-style of red chile braised pork) with hash browns, scrambled eggs, and Oaxaca queso in a flour tortilla. The smothered part was red and green chile sauces, and the whole bundle was served with a side of posole. Our server sweet-talked us into the French Dip; she was 100% convincing and 100% correct. Au jus is the make or break for a French dip. This one was meaty and deeply savory. Clearly, some time and care were put into it. We’ve discussed my love of horseradish (see the Bloody Mary talk above), and the horseradish-y crema cut the richness of the au jus and sirloin. Confession: half came home with me, and it was just as good cold the next day, a sure sign of a great sandwich.
I am not big on sweet things for breakfast. Mostly because I have two bites, and then I’m sugared out. But want to love them so much. I can make an exception for brunch if everyone at the table agrees to pitch in and have a bite. This is precisely what we did with the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bread Pudding. It was a flashback to childhood Saturday mornings after a sleepover, the only time I could sneak sugary cereal as a kid. Cinnamon Toast Crunch was one of my favorites. I will almost always order bread pudding if it is on a dessert menu. So between the bread pudding, the childhood nostalgia, and the willingness of my dining companion to share, you know I had to order this for the table. With crispy cinnamon-y crumbles on top, the spongy bread pudding sits in a pool of crème anglaise flavored with a hint of orange zest. The whole thing was polished off. Quickly.
Urban Hill Brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am to 2:30pm. It is also one of the few places in town where you can make a reservation for brunch. Take advantage!
510 South 300 West, Salt Lake City
Ph: (385) 295 4200
See more stories like this and all of our food and drink coverage. And while you’re here, why not subscribe and get six annual issues of Salt Lake magazine’s curated guide to the best of life in Utah.