Restaurant Review: Urban Table

via New Jersey Monthly

URBAN TABLE

2 STARS

MORRISTOWN

FOOD: American/Global

AMBIENCE: Casual

SERVICE: Enthusiastic, sometimes to a fault

DINNER FOR TWO: $55

WINE LIST: Adequate; best bets are cocktails and draft beers from the Trap Rock Brewery

HOURS: Lunch/Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 10 pm; Friday, 11 am to 11 pm; Saturday, 11:30 am to 11 pm; Sunday. 11:30 am to 9 pm. Breakfast: Monday through Friday, 7 to 11 am; Saturday and Sunday, 7 to 11:30 am.

 AX, MC, V, D, DC, wheelchair accessible

40 West Park Place, Morristown

973-326-9200;

urbantablerestaurant.com

Launched in late April, Urban Table is located facing the Morris-town Green in the swank 40 Park Place residential/commercial development. It’s the newest addition to Jersey-based Harvest Restaurant Group’s constellation that includes Roots Steakhouse in Summit (the Morristown branch is Urban Table’s next-door neighbor), Trap Rock in Berkeley Heights and 3 West in Basking Ridge.

Company president Chip Grabowski and his wife, Cheryl, along with corporate chef Bruce Johnson, developed Urban Table’s menu to attract a broad audience, including families and young adults. Chef de cuisine Patrick Aste, a Boonton native who has worked at other Harvest restaurants as well as at two Danny Meyer enterprises in New York (Blue Smoke and Eleven Madison Park), says Urban Table is “an easy and approachable concept that’s fun and casual.”

The expansive dining area has high ceilings and white tile walls with murals depicting subway scenes. Unfortunately, the hard surfaces contribute to a noise level not unlike rush hour.

The broad menu, a mosaic of comfort foods including barbecue, sushi, burgers and Southwestern, would pose a challenge for any kitchen. A good first impression was created by skirt-steak nachos. Tender steak morsels replaced the typical ground beef. The crunchiness of the house-made chips held up under layers of well-seasoned black beans, a side of guacamole and melted cheese. Another winning starter paired tasty dips-hummus, creamy cucumber tzatziki and citrusy marinated sliced beets—with toasted pitas. Melted cheese gave warm, garlicky spinach-artichoke dip nice tanginess, punctuated by mild heat from red-pepper flakes. Unfortunately, the pita wedges it came with were overtoasted. Sushi was fresh and well prepared. Spicy shrimp and crab roll came with three enjoyable dipping sauces. Hot and spicy chicken wings were neither.

Salads we tried were generous and fresh. An excellent crab-cake salad came with crisp greens, artichoke hearts, pickled onions and orange segments, all nicely tied together by grain mustard and cider vinaigrette. A cowardly dressing on the Caesar salad, however, needed more garlic, lemon and anchovy.

Main courses produced hits and misses. Tempura fish and chips was burdened with a leathery coating. Roast-chicken quesadilla was marred by a tortilla that was borderline burnt. Barbecued baby-back ribs lacked smokiness, yet the accompanying mac and cheese was delightful. Flawless Cubana roll featured tender slow-cooked pork, ham, pickles and melted provolone.

The pleasing tuna burger was actually tuna slices grilled rare, paired with avocado, tomato and wasabi cream on multigrain bread. The juicy Urban Table burger—8 ounces of coarsely ground short rib, brisket and sirloin—boasted rich, beefy flavor. Served on a brioche roll and topped with caramelized onions, melted Gruyere and rosemary aioli, it amounted to a comfort-food masterpiece. Sadly, French fries served in a brown bag were limp.

We tried the orange Creamsicle shake, which is child friendly but also plays well with adults. Shakes on the Adult Entertainment section of the menu contain booze, like the Kahlua-Iaced Not Your Momma’s Cup of Coffee. We also tried a warm dessert, Monkey Bread, consisting of yeasty dough soaked in caramel syrup, layered with bananas and baked. Superb.—Sam Kadko

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