By Paula E. Kirman
Urban Diner is the establishment that took over the former location of Sweetwater Café in the heart of the Edward Street area. Not much has changed on the inside - the separate rooms on the left and right sides of the building are separated by the main counter and dessert showcase. The menu, however, is all its own.
Apparently, Urban Diner embraces a philosophy of having a menu with just enough items to have something for everyone, while at the same time focusing on those dishes they do best. The lunch menu was one single page, double sided, in addition to daily soup and entrée specials listed on a chalk board.
For lunch, patrons can choose from four different meal-sized salads, to which chicken breast or salmon could be added for an additional charge. There is a quiche of the day, and a frittata - a large, flat, open-faced omelet. Taking up the most space on the menu is the variety of sandwiches, all of them $10, including a Rueben, chicken breast, and grilled salmon. Sandwiches come with a side of homemade fries, soup, or salad of choice.
Three items are in the Diner Favourites section: diner striploin (sort of like a steak sandwich), fish and chips, and macaroni and cheese (to which one can have sausage added). These meals are in the $9 - $12 range.
Even though we were there for lunch, I had a look at the dinner menu. Also on one page, it has the additional section Bites to Share, with a variety of appetizers such as hummus, fries, and the most decadent item in the section, a fondue for $18. A section of meals finds entrees that range from $12 to $18, such as a veal meatloaf and New York steak. As well, there are two kinds of pot pies. Otherwise, the menu has the same salads, sandwiches, and Diner Favourites, at the same prices as the lunch menu.
To begin our meal, we had a cup of cream of wild mushroom soup with basil. Served with a roll, the soup was thick and creamy, the flavour of the pureed mushrooms and seasonings coming through clearly, with just a hint of sweetness.
I had the Black Angus Burger, which was so huge I had to eat it with a knife and fork. Served on a marbled bun, the meat had a slightly sour taste, and was thick and juicy. Admittedly, this was the first time I have knowingly had Black Angus, and my dining companion explained that the meat does have a taste that is unique from other kinds of beef. It was served with a mountain of home cut fries, which were shoestring thin, crispy, and just slightly seasoned.
My friend chose the fish and chips. Three large pieces of cod and another mountain of fries. He commented that the batter was not coated so thick as to dominate the fish. The ample serving of tartar sauce had a certain kick to it.
Beverages were not listed on the menu, although our waitress explained that the menu was currently being updated. She listed a variety of soft drinks, teas, coffees, and iced tea. We opted for the latter, after hearing its description. Its taste matched our curiosity - a tall glass of a freshly-brewed tea combination, sweetened with cranberry juice. Very different, and it hit the spot. There is a printed wine list, for those so inclined.
We were too full after our meals to attempt dessert. Customers are encouraged to get up and visit the dessert showcase at the front of the store to make their selection. The items can vary day by day. I was overwhelmed by the smell of the apple dumplings on the way out - whole, cored apples baked in a light pastry. I also saw some cakes and pies that looked tempting.
The place seems to fill up at lunchtime, so reservations are recommended, especially for larger groups. While prices are a bit on the high end for lunch, they aren't over the top. You know that you are in a higher-class establishment, without the losing the diner feel.
12427 102 Ave.
Phone: (780) 488-7274