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100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die-Urban Cookhouse-Chipotle Braised Pork

The Chipotle-braised pork sandwich with house-made pickles and aioli sauce served on two warm yeast rolls is my 55th dish or the #46 on my countdown of tasting 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.

If you too travel, you understand how difficult it can be finding real food on the go. I am always thinking and yapping about how to build an empire of restaurants that might serve real food, with great taste, real fast, and at a reasonable price point.  In this dream, there are neither microwaves nor deep fryers. Everything would be made from scratch and the cooler would look like my fridge at home; brimming with fresh local produce.  ((1)) Sauces and vinaigrettes would be made from scratch daily. A place that truly focuses on sustainable practices and utilizes local ingredients. The staff would be happy at work and pleasant to the customers. This restaurant is one such place.

I visited Urban Cookhouse  at “The Summit” location in Birmingham.  I had my Glenn of Imaal Terrier “Mulligan’ in tow. The staff, in an outside café setting, welcomed us; Mulligan was even given his own water dish.  This friendly staff directed me to the indoor counter where I ordered from a really fantastic menu.  I passed by local wine products for sale and a really nice looking case that held take-out items such as, chicken salad, broccoli salad, orange rolls, fresh fruits, beverages, and soups.  After ordering,  I was given a number and the super friendly and genuinely nice staff brought the dishes to the table and saw to it that our glasses remained full and dishes were looked after.

Urban Cookhouse uses a somewhat unique cooking method. Under hoods in the kitchen, there are two Big Green Egg grills: local hickory wood and lump charcoal are the fuel source. One of the eggs is used to quickly grill menu items such as lime-marinated steak and grilled shrimp. The other is used as a smoker slowly cooking the meats to a tender and flavorful finish. ((2))

The Chipotle-braised pulled pork starts out with a rub of dried pepper paste; it is then braised on the grill for about 6-8 hours and shredded. Placed on two Milly Ray’s Yeast Rolls (A successful Alabama Businesswoman, see more below.) Served with house-made pickles and the choice of one side. I opted for the roasted vegetables and was not disappointed. Absolutely delicious.  *Note, I forgot to ask about the sauce on the side but I think it was the roasted jalapeno vinaigrette.  Don’t you just love when you can not decide if it tastes better with or without added sauce? YUM!

urbancookhousepork

Another dish that I was able to taste was the Lime-Marinated Steak and Rice served with a crisp garden salad of mixed greens, red onion, red peppers, shredded cheese, a slice of lime and rice pilaf. Honey mustard vinaigrette served on the side was delicious and topped off with a small warm iced orange roll. Sorry, this is not the best photo of this dish but you can see that orange roll.

urbansteak.jpg

Curious about this orange roll, I just had to ask when I was at the counter. What’s the deal on the orange rolls? The friendly staff did not know the story so when I had time,  I learned the deal. A woman in the Birmingham area makes Millie Ray’s Orange Iced and Yeast Rolls. (A successful Alabama Businesswoman story.) Also said to be friends with The Snyder’s, who are the owners of Urban Cookhouse.  It is said that while taste-testing foods that they absolutely wanted the rolls on their menu and the rolls have become a big hit with the customers.  ((3)) To note, the staff at the counter said that although he did not know the story, the orange rolls were really delicious and said that he also LOVED Millie Ray’s Cinnamon Rolls. Great tip, I will absolutely taste them.

MEGastars: 5*****

Here are a few factors that led me to give this dish a 5 * vs a 4 * that meets the criteria of delicious Alabama food served with Alabama pride.

  • The slogan is “Buy Local Eat Urban.”  Yes, it has been a buzzword for a bit but these folks put it all together in one fantastic eatery. I personally tasted the freshness.
  • Farm to fire to table restaurant that supports local farmers, really and truly. I read one story of how U.C. helped a farmer re-build a greenhouse after a storm.
  • Family friendly, they have an adorable and fun “Cool Kids” menu. The cool kids dishes are served with potato stix. I love Shoestring Potato Stix. I noticed in the restroom that a step stool with “Cool Kids” was provided.
  • Fantastic Take-out menu. One may also pick up a healthy and delicious meal for 4 at a reasonable price point.
  • Casual, comfortable, friendly with outdoor seating.
  • Wine and beer are available.
  • A farmer’s market is sponsored and managed at each UC location
  • My sandwich was $6.95 with a nutritious side. Real food, with great taste, real fast at a reasonable price point.
  • Urban Cookhouse of Montgomery has catered to an organization in Montgomery that I love called Eat South, and does a fantastic job with fresh fruit and chicken. Nuff
  • I have a thing for The Green Egg.  This outdoor kitchen located at The Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands still haunts me to this day. “Want.” megandegg.jpg

MEGatips

  • There are actually two Dishes on “The 100” at Urban cookhouse, the other dish is The Half-baked Cookie, guess what is next week’s Tasty Tuesday?
  • They have a strawberry lemonade milkshake that uses fresh strawberries. I have not tasted this but yes, please!
  • Now located in Montgomery, Atlanta and Nashville, DO watch this restaurant in its future growth. I for one, wish them every success.
  • This link to the Urban Cookhouse website will provide you with any details. Urban Cookhouse Website
  • If you are a shopper, this mall is absolutely one of my favorite shopping spots in the country. Not only is there fantastic shopping; think Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Trader Joe’s, West Elm, Athleta, Saks, Anthropologie, BCBG, Sur LaTable and so on.  Before moving to Alabama, and while visiting my Aunt who was a resident of Birmingham, I was impressed at that time and it still wows me. Think amazing plantings, fountains, statues, dog bowls filled with water and something for everyone shopping.
  • Millie Ray’s rolls are available in parts of the Southern United States and Florida. How to find Millie Ray’s Rolls

Sources:

  1. Credit to writer Chris Chamberlain  First Bite: Urban Cookhouse Nashville, TN  location. Facts regarding microwave and fryer.
  2. A short video about the pork sandwich and cooking methods at Urban Cookhouse.
  3. Homewood Star article on Millie Ray’s.

This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful information.

ABOUT:  *100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die,” is a compilation of food to chow down on “Bama style.”  Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier.  I am going to have some food fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.   From the little old diner to the white cloth setting, this journey is an opportunity for me to explore my new state and experience pride in food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food, with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ smoker to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama.  From this list, I select stops based upon convenience of location and they are in no particular order (but I already have a few favorites.)  Perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes. You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York.

I use a 5 MEGastar system.  For the most part, I am traveling a distance to try these dishes and these places get one shot at how I view the food and experience.   I will not be taking an average of three visit experiences and I factor this in when I give my star rating. That said, I’m very easy to please, I can overlook quite a bit and have worked in the food service industry.  I am not a paid food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on the experience.  I try to follow my own star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.

  • *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can? or,  the place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama.   This has happened to me a few times and is a difficult write.
  • ** passable – the food was “ok” but the place  was not “ok” or vice versa.
  • *** good but not outstanding or unique.
  • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/OR truly highlights Alabama Pride.
  • ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. And/Or, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else.

 

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