For the past five years or so, the restaurant on the lobby floor of The Latham Hotel had been vacant. I would walk by and wonder when a new restaurant would open.
Urban Enoteca now fills the space, and is open for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and dinner.
The dining area, which is small by hotel standards, has a bar, community table in the center, as well as comfortable, dark wood tables and blue upholstered chairs.
Sandy and I made three visits to Urban Enoteca. The all-day menu suited us although a few hot entrées are added after 5 p.m.
I savored the Portofino fish sandwich ($15) prepared with fresh, juicy haddock dipped into a batter blended with Peroni beer. The fish, served on a ciabatta roll, sat on a thin layer of Provolone and was topped with a lemon tartar sauce, which added a bit of zing. It comes with a choice of coleslaw or truffle fries, which could have been a bit more crispy, but Sandy and I enjoyed the flavor.
Sandy ate her first vegetarian sandwich with gusto. Grilled vegetable panini ($12) consisted of marinated zucchini, meaty portobello mushrooms, Provolone, roasted red peppers, tangy goat cheese and tomato spread with aioli on a pressed Italian roll.
Since Walnut Street is a favorite shopping mecca for us, we headed back to Urban Enoteca a week later.
“Let’s share the steak salad since last week [our server] Michael told us it is quite large,” I said to my sister.
We ordered the beef medium-rare. The menu bistecca steak salad ($18) with grilled marinated sirloin, mixed greens, olives, Gorgonzola, artichokes, Italian pignolis, herb-roasted tomatoes, crispy onions and white balsamic vinaigrette."
It was dreadful, overdressed and inedible. Ordinary bagged mesclun was used and since it was a soggy mess, one cannot call them crisp greens. There was so much imitation balsamic vinegar that we had to return it.
The manager apologized. Two new salads were prepared with some yellow romaine leaves, ramekins of olive oil, lemon wedges, one artichoke loaded with vinegar, two pitted olives, sliced beef and a few pine nuts. I needed a microscope to detect the Gorgonzola.
The manager saw us picking at our lunch. He gave me his card and invited us to lunch. The gentleman had no idea of my identity.
Prosciutto-crusted white prawns ($10) consisted of two medium shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto. They were flavorful, but someone forgot the oregano salad. There were four tiny oregano leaves, along with dots of honey laced with lemon, on the plate.
Sandy had to try the fish sandwich that I enjoyed two weeks before. She loved it.
Our server brought us a basket of warm ciabatta and Italian bread baked with Asiago cheese. The butter, topped with sea salt and snipped fresh chives, was soft.
Maine lobster with shrimp scampi- style ($16) was not very good. I rate it a C-minus. Three shrimp, some lobster-claw meat, two croutons and peas, which must have come from a can because they were so wrinkled, were set in an oily broken sauce that separated as soon as I forked some shellfish, which, by the way, was not a bit overcooked. I have no idea what the peas were doing there as this dish cried out for fennel and onions.
“Would you like something sweet?” our server asked.
Straight from the early-'90s chocolate lava cake was nicely done, not at all sweet and topped with creamy vanilla gelato. A cup of rich, dark coffee called Royal Cup ended lunch.
I think Urban Enoteca's menu could be so much better and we found the first-rate service better than the bill of fare.