Jan. 12 2011 10:39 AM

In this week's Nibbles, we share the merits of eavesdropping and demystify the banner at 127 University Ave.

There’s something to growl about at URBN.
Have you seen that sign at 127 University Ave. in Hillcrest that reads:Empire House—urban palate—coming sooner or later?” Mystery solved. The place is slated to open Jan. 31, says owner Larry Malone, a restaurant guy who at one point spent time in Pamplemousse Grille's kitchen. Here's the gist: It's Gastrotruck-style food served from 7 a.m. to midnight in a sit-down setting. Items include burgers made from humanely raised beef, TJ hotdogs and street tacos. You bring beer or wine for no fee until Empire begins serving its own. This space was occupied for less than a year by Top Chef contestant Frankie Terzoli's Big Easy; before that, it was the hip Better Half bistro.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, in honor of its first anniversary, The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge (729 W. Washington St.), a swanky speakeasy in Mission Hills, will serve you and yours an individual Beef Wellington and house specialty martini for $30. Wearing flapper attire the next day gets you nothing. thewellingtonsd.com

Each week, executive chef Katherine Humphus of Bo-Beau Kitchen Bar (4996 W. Point Loma Blvd.), the Cohn Restaurant Group's newest endeavor, releases a band of minions (read: members of her family) into the restaurant to take notes on customers' impressions, all sly-like. Some people call it clever market research, but Orwell might've had his own word for it. Either way, thanks for caring, Kat.

Still no word on that haute pie shop I've long craved, but trendy cupcake shop Sprinkles (8855 La Jolla Village Drive) opens Jan. 12. The Bachelorette's Ali Fedotowsky will serve cupcakes at the grand opening. She'll get $25,000 from Sprinkles, to be donated, in turn, to San Diego's Dress for Success. Also, the Sprinklesmobile will chug around San Diego this week, giving out free cupcakes. Find out where they are at twitter.com/Sprinklesmobile and facebook.com/sprinkles.

URBN Coal Fired Pizza / Bar (3085 University Ave. in North Park) gives you more bang for your beer buck with “Growler Happy Hour,” 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Buy a half-gallon jug of beer and get a small, three-topping pizza for free. More of a wine kid? A bottle of vino will score you the same deal. Growlers cost $16 to $24 and bottles of wine between $26 and $52. urbnpizza.com

Got food news? Write to brookl@sdcitybeat.com.


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