The Urban Bread Co. is attempting to take over Southern Indiana, or so it might seem given the recent moves the small company has made.
Previously known as the Hub Roti Café, which we covered last year, Urban Bread will vacate its original space, and it has since opened spots in New Albany and as a sort of permanent pop-up at Flat 12 Bierwerks in Jeffersonville. Meanwhile, another location is set to open as part of the Clark County Auto Auction, just a few miles east of the original location.
Owned by partners and family members Sam, Ben and Nick Jones, Urban Bread continues its vision of serving sandwiches on roti, a type of bread that creates a pocket of sorts, kind of like a taco.
The good news is the ingredients can range widely, creating the option for all sorts of interesting combinations. In addition, the core menu has expanded and shifted to bring about some new taste options.
I stopped by the Flat 12 location recently for a late lunch with my girlfriend Cynthia. I only recognized one of the tacos I’d tried previously when it was still known as the Hub, so I made it my business to pick two I hadn’t experienced. Meanwhile, Cynthia was distracted by the appetizers menu and a dish called BBQ Brisket Tots.
Tots on the menu include vegan tots, topped with corn salsa, tomatoes and ranch, as well as Fancy Tots, with lemon beurre blanc, balsamic and tomato confit. But brisket and tater tots were tough to pass up. I chose two roti selections, one called the Money Muscle and one called the Bobby Boucher.
Our food, prepared in the tiny Flat 12 kitchen, came out amazingly fast. Luckily, we had just beaten a large party that surely would have clogged up the system, as large parties tend to do.
I tried Cynthia’s tots, which she quickly was glad to have ordered. The tater tots were cooked just right, and they managed to maintain crispness even in the highly tasty and interesting “espresso BBQ ‘Bama white sauce” drizzled across them. Ample amounts of pulled brisket provided plenty of substance and flavor, and while I’ve surely had better brisket, this was a solid entry and made for either a fine sharable app or a medium-sized lunch.
For Cynthia, it was the latter: “Oh my word,” she said after trying the first bite.
Roti is an interesting substance; I liken it to a cross between pita and a flaky croissant, while Cynthia opined it reminded her of something called cloud bread. Regardless, it was flaky and light and flavored so subtly that it is compatible with nearly anything.
My Money Muscle featured pulled pork in black pepper vinegar, with corn salsa and Alabama-style white barbecue sauce. Like the brisket, the pork was solid, but the corn salsa and creamy, mayo-based sauce really brought the flavor home.
I gobbled it up almost as quickly as it had been brought to our table.
Next, I went for the Bobby Boucher, named after Adam Sandler’s unforgettable (no matter how hard you might try) character in the 1998 film “The Waterboy.”
This one consisted of four blackened shrimp (like Mama might have made) atop plenty of cheddar cheese grits, with a lemon beurre blanc (a butter and wine reduction) and balsamic, with tomato confit.
Considering all the complementary ingredients involved in this one, I was surprised the tender, medium-sized shrimp managed to stay so prominent in the flavor. Still, the creamy and tangy grits and balsamic made this one not just tasty, but quite messy. I could have easily eaten another one without regret.
We noticed there was a dessert roti, with ice cream, but the menu didn’t say what type of ice cream. Out of curiosity, we decided to try one. Unfortunately, our order got lost in the shuffle of the large number of people who had invaded the brewery taproom, and after about 15 or 20 minutes, it had never materialized.
I decided to get up and ask the bartender, who immediately was apologetic, and offered to bring out the ice cream as soon as possible and at no charge. Nothing like a sincere make-good to right a potential dining wrong.
And boy were we glad we showed patience. What we got were two scoops of a rich, delicious chocolate ice cream with what seemed to be chunks of chocolate cake or perhaps Oreo cookies.
I had to ask and was told the ice cream was from Louisville Cream, and the flavor was Ann Arbor City Limits, which is chocolate ice cream with vanilla bean marshmallow cream and chocolate cream-filled cookies. So, we were in the ballpark.
And it should be noted this stuff costs $25 per gallon online, so Urban Bread Co. doesn’t skimp on the desserts.
Or any of it. It’s still just as solid and interesting as when it opened as the Hub Roti Café, perhaps even more so. Menus vary by location — the menu at Flat 12 is limited, so if you want the full experience, try one of the other locations — but there are plenty of highlights to consider, with vegan, dessert and a wide variety of meat-based rotis.
Hours vary by location. The New Albany location is at 145 E. Main St.; the new Jeffersonville location will be at 1000 Auction Lane; and Flat 12 is located at 130 W. Riverside Drive.