Blake Eats: New restaurant spruces up cafeteria style eating

Urban Plates, located in Columbia Mall, serves quality food that can satisfy anyone in a refreshing setting, living up to its name.

Tired, hungry, and impatient for a meal? If you are in Columbia Mall, you may opt for something quick and casual, like Shake Shack. It’s a solid place to grab some grub… but what if you have dietary restrictions or just cannot rock with the greasy, albeit delicious, finger food? Well, you would be in luck. Urban Plates is just one door down, serving fast, quality, and healthy food.

Walking into the restaurant, the most striking feature is the decor: an eye-catching mixture of industrial and natural elements. Followed by that is the set up. Rather than immediately being seated or going straight to the counter to order, people are greeted by three lines, each leading to different sections on a single counter.

Newcomers to the cafeteria style eatery might be confused by the separate lines, but a friendly hostess is there to direct you to the correct section based on your meal preference and explain the menu.

It may be a cafeteria-esque restaurant, but the food is far from cafeteria quality. The healthier take on a chicken moroccan braise will shock you, and the serving size will make the money spent well justified. The antibiotic and hormone-free chicken comes drenched in a savory sauce with heavily seasoned vegetables with a lemon zest aftertaste. Acting as foundation to the bowl, the bottom is covered entirely in brown rice. The rice could have had more flavor to it, but it wasn’t too damaging to the dish.

Moving on to a different section of the menu, the sandwiches did not live up to the expectations. The grilled, grass fed steak with a ranch paste had too many different flavors, making the sandwich too overpowering. Not the best thing on the menu, but the other options available make up for it.

This restaurant has something for everyone. The variety of lunch, dinner, or dessert options has something that can satisfy everyone’s appetite and not leave you with the guilty feeling that sometimes follows eating out. The menu even clearly marks the dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or dairy free, making ordering food simple. 

Also, each meal is made to the same quality and flavorful standard as the next, so there’s no risk of coming to a restaurant and ordering their sad, singular vegan option only to get some onions and lettuce thrown on a plate in return.

All in all, Urban Plates is a good choice for the healthy consumer. It has all the right parts to become one of the favorite places to eat when in the Columbia Mall area.