A good coffee shop/hang out spot is every blogger’s dream, especially a European blogger. Imagine my excitement when I found a new haven in Urban Standard. I was spending the weekend in Birmingham to catch up on some cool things that I wanted to write about and I needed a place to draft up some blog posts while they were fresh in my mind. I needed Wi-Fi, coffee, an appropriate level of background noise and breakfast. As my friend got ready to go to work, I reached for my trusty IPhone and began to cruise the streets of Birmingham. My phone kept suggesting Urban Standard so I headed towards it.
At first I was perplexed by the parking situation, mostly because it involved having coins, which I did not possess. I parked at a meter anyway. I proceeded inside where the lovely barista informed me that I could park in the parking lot of the neighboring bar since they weren’t open yet. Said and done. Because it was very early (7:15 or so), I had no problem finding a table. I suggest you get the table to the left of the bar if you plan on using a computer and staying for a while. The outlet is right beside it, there is a lovely view of outside and the rest of the space (great for people watching), and if you need a refill or more things to eat, the counter is not far away. Ask for Wi-Fi access when you order and they will give you a log on and password.
The décor at Urban Standard is very eclectic; there is really not one type of style present in the space. Industrial light fixtures are interspersed with vintage maps and mismatched chairs. I was particularly fascinated by the maps hanging on the wall opposite the counter. There are two maps, one of Africa and the other of Stockholm, Sweden! The two places where my DNA comes from! I took it as a sign that I must return here often to write.
I ordered the Creamy grits with sausage and cheese, a biscuit, and a large Café au Lait. For under $10, that’s a pretty great deal if you ask me. This is plenty of food, believe you me. The grits were dare I say, cooked to perfection. Don’t reach for the salt and pepper until you have a bite. The grits are super creamy, which is fantastic and the saltiness of the sausage and the cheese… There are no words.
The best way I can describe the biscuit is wholesome indulgence. I don’t know how it is made or what is in it but it seems like some sort of whole wheat. The color is a smidge darker than your average biscuit but it tastes just like the most indulgent, grandma-made divine biscuit you have ever tasted without the guilt of having consumed your weight in butter afterwards. I don’t actually know that it doesn’t have a ton of butter in it; I just choose to believe that it was good for me. If you are here and you happen to have some Peach butter from Durbin Farms handy, sneak it in and put it on this biscuit. Beats the Smuckers packets every time!
This biscuit was so delicious that I e-mailed the good people of Urban Standard to get the recipe. Trevor replied with a counter offer – Some of his best practices for biscuit making.
The people who frequent Urban Standard are – at least during my visit- very diverse. During my five hour stay, I saw labor workers, suits, hipsters, stay-at-home moms, couples and that one girl. You know, the girl who reads in the corner with a flower in her hair, the light from the window hitting all her best facial features…There is one of those girls in almost all good coffee houses, I think it is a requirement. There is a great mix of people here which makes for a very unpretentious environment and great people watching.
To park when you visit, drive down 2nd Avenue; pass the coffee shop on your right. Turn right into the Rogue Tavern parking lot. If you are here early enough, there will be plenty of space, if you get here a bit later or you are just running in to grab a drink, there is metered parking. If you are like me and plan on staying half the day, I say go for the parking lot.
Lastly, if you are not yet convinced that you should visit Urban Standard, know this: They have tofu scramble and they recycle. Need I say more?