Urban Table: I'm Only Here for a Drink

Their Bloody Mary is not so fine, and do I really have to shake your hand upon sitting down and then on leaving?

has been open for several months now. They are hitting their stride as far as attracting an affluent customer base who may or may not know anything about food. I really don't don't think that their food is all that great, although they are constantly packed, so maybe this is what their customer wants?  

I don't believe the things I've read in other local publications about the food. They are not in any way a farm-to-table restaurant as their name suggests. Urban Table's menu reads as if they locally source their ingredients. I don't think that anything is really freshly picked at local farms. 

The same holds true at the bar. They have a trendy looking cocktail menu, yet the drink concoctions seem to be chosen mostly for color and sweetness more than the interplay of flavors. There is a heavy emphasis on Martini-style drinks and some sugary-sweet concoctions involving coffee-flavored Patron Tequila, espresso and a sugar rim is aimed at 20-somethings out for their first drink ever. Their Key Lime Martini with pear vodka, licor 43 and lime with a graham cracker crusted rim is just not going to go past my lips. The BLTini with muddled basil and arugula with a bacon flavored vodka, tomato juice and (strangely spelled on the menu) Tobasco sauce is just wrong and best left out in the garden for more inspiration. 

So, as I found, unfortunately, their bar is aimed at a young crowd who are still in the Malibu rum and coke phase of their drinking careers. 

I gazed at their cocktail menu and saw that they have a Bacon Bloody Mary for $10. Interesting sounding, it was described as having a bacon flavored vodka, but according to Patrick, my well meaning bartender, unavailable because of the recent power failure.

I settled for a regular house Bloody Mary. 

The Bloody Mary at Urban Table is plagued by the weakness (Read: cheapness) of the ingredients. Patrick, after gripping my hand (was he shaking my hand because I didn't order a more complicated drink?) served it in a nice 8 oz. glass that was only 1/4 filled with smallish sized ice cubes. The drink was pale red from the quality of the tomato juice. Their tomato juice is not a very high quality, it tasted of a metal can.  

Patrick explained that even in the "house" pour Bloody Mary they use a special brand of vodka that he thinks is pretty good, one I hadn't to this point even heard of.  

I'm pretty familiar with most of the brands and having spent a week surrounded by many obscure brands in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail, I thought I'd seen it all. I think it was named Samsonoff, yet I couldn't find any information on this vodka on the internet. Is this brand made in Jersey City in a factory? I wonder. This cloyingly bitter vodka instead of enhancing the drink was weighing it down. 

The ingredients of my cocktail were almost sour, not at all what I was expecting. I asked for some more horseradish and some hot sauce to bring up the missing flavors that were more akin to dry white bread, nearly flavorless. The horseradish made the drink uncomfortably sharp and metallic and the hot sauce was neither hot, nor sauce.  

I think the brand was Cholula, a common commercial brand that just happens to be made in Mexico. It is seen mostly at restaurants that cater to the gringos. It really doesn't have any kick to it, the flavor is uninspiring and overly salty. 

If they want to make their Bloody Mary cocktail spicy, they should get some El Yucateco. This hot sauce will open the sweat glands to eyes wide open with deeply aromatic flavor! And as far as the horseradish goes, a bottle of Gold's goes a long way. You'll never use all of it in a week, unless you start using good ingredients, then who knows? Urban Table may sell more than one or two a week. 

There was a green olive and a small hunk of freshly-cut lime on a bamboo skewer, that and the correct sized glass get two stars. This cheap-tasting olive was the source of much of the bitterness and salty profile of the drink. It seemed to be from a jar, an olive much more appropriate for a Martini, and only if that Martini is made from Gin.

I'd skip the olive instead they should offer a slice of plum tomato or perhaps a celery stalk. 

The price? It was right: $8.29. The quality of that cocktail was worth no more. OK, I'll give them an extra 1/2 star for the price.  

Finally, to Urban Table management ... is it OK if I don't shake your hand when I leave?  

Melissa Spiotta September 07, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Wow, pretty harsh. I have been there about 40 times and I totally love it. The food isn't always perfect but since it isn't Roots I am ok with that. I do love the staff though...Patrick, Justin, Mike, Maureen and many others who are staples. And the Chipwich is to DIE for!!
Karen Spitzner September 07, 2011 at 04:40 PM
I had lunch at Urban Table about 2 weeks ago. The rest of my group seemed happy with their meals, but I found my chicken quesadilla to be incredibly bland. I asked the waiter for hot sauce or jalapenos to spice it up. He said they had no jalapenos and brought a buffalo chicken wing-type hot sauce, which helped, but it was all wrong!
julie jacobson September 07, 2011 at 04:50 PM
As much as I love to eat out - I find this group of restaurants a bit too thematic for me - remember it's all about the FOOD!!!
Chris Katz September 07, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Warren, I TOTALLY agree with you. Roots owns it which surprises me due to the lack of flavor in the food @ Urban. Last month I tried it with my husband. He ordered a burger. I ordered the Skirt Steak, which I returned since it was filled with grizzle and totally inedible. I re-ordered and went with the california roll because it was safe. I had a martini, asking specifically for Hendricks and they clearly gave me something else AND watered it down. When my husband paid for the bill i commented on the fact that I could cook a better meal for under the price of our combined drinks so we should just stay in from now on! I would love to join you on some of your excursions. You drink while I do dessert tastings! That would be fun.
Tom September 07, 2011 at 05:58 PM
I must regretfully admit that I have been to this restaurant once, and probably will never go again. I'm sorry, but the food was mediocre at best, and completely overpriced. The drinks we had with dinner were just okay, and were not strong at all, especially for the price. And the service was just TERRIBLE. I apparently had 2 servers, each of which I saw maybe twice the entire night. We waited almost an hour between our shared appetizer and our dinner, and would probably have been longer if I didn't speak up. My fiance and I felt we were completely neglected the entire night, and just can't imagine going back again after such an awful experience. Two thumbs down for Urban Table.
Angela Rines September 07, 2011 at 07:08 PM
I am going to have to agree with the negative reviews. I want to see this restaurant be successful. But I think the food is way overpriced and uninteresting. I've had better at a diner. Burgers are blah. Fries remind me of Oreida fries. The whole tiny bottles of soda thing is annoying. Huge disappointment considering I was excited for the opening of this restaurant. However, I will say that their skirt steak nachos appetizer is amazing! And many of my friends all agree! I'd go for that and nothing else.
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Melissa: Thank you for your comment. You're entitled to your opinion and I appreciate that you took the time to leave one. I'm glad you love it. I want them to succeed. I'd also like better ingredients. The glass was a nice size, the lime was fresh and the bamboo skewer a nice touch. Unfortunately I don't care for their choice of tomato juice, horseradish, hot sauce and the Vodka. Nor do I want to shake everyone's hands. I don't think the food is so fine either. I've dined here several times and after working in kitchens for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that you can eat better. Maybe for fewer dollars. Also, I'm tired of shouting to be heard. The Urban experience is obviously working. They are packed. This opinion article is just my opinion. My opinion is in no way the opinion of the Patch. I'm glad you like it at Urban Table and thank you again for sharing your thoughts! Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Bland is a good word for it. So was the cocktail!
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 07:14 PM
They could make more money at the bar using better mixers! They should try Hoosier Momma! I'll bet they'll sell dozens of them. http://hoosiermomma.com/ This is the brand that I suggested to Tashmoo. It ROCKS.
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Chris: Thanks for the comment. I usually work alone and if I don't- I bring my wife to check out the women's room, things that I cannot do. But thanks for the offer! I appreciate that you took the time to leave one! wb
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Tom: Thank you for your comment. The food is mediocre- only a few steps above Fast Casual. As I said in the article and will say again- they are packed because their formula seems to work for MOST people. I don't change my reviewing style for MOST people. My palate tells me something is mediocre and it usually is- in the broader context of a restaurant review... This is not a restaurant review- although I have been speaking more about food in these articles lately along with the drink. I'm published internationally for my sense of taste, so doesn't it make sense to review restaurants in my home town? I believe a bar can be a smash success by using great ingredients. Freshly squeezed juices for one- it's an easy thing that doesn't really add to the food cost- if you consider flavor and sales. Those corn syrup enhanced mixers just don't do it for me. After being down in New Orleans and writing about how good ingredients enhance a cocktail- I'm pretty hard to please when cheap ingredients are used. Better ingredients=greater sales. I wish they would contact me to help them make their bars better. Cheers! wb
Melissa Spiotta September 07, 2011 at 07:51 PM
I'll just say that I consider it a non-branded diner so my expectations are set at that level. @Angela, I love the nachos too. And their burgers.
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Angela: I thank you for leaving your comment. I wish more people would do it more! The restaurant business is a highly competitive place- if they would focus on the quality of the ingredients- the simple things like a Bloody Mary could be brilliant!
Declan Keane September 07, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Yawn! I just tried the newest drink in Morristown, the Warren Bobrow. This stale drink is remarkably predictable in its blandness, incredibly sour, more like whine than wine, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It can kill the atmosphere at any party and destroys the mood just by carrying it into the room. It is overly bold in it's arrogance and made with cheap adjectives, I mean ingredients. Come on Warren, you are the town buzz kill. Your reviews are boring slam jobs of good restaurants and good people. And now you're whining about the waiter shaking your hand? Next time you go out, just try to have a good time and enjoy yourself like the rest of us do. By the way, Urban Table ... have been there three times, have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere each time. I found the staff to be friendly and overall had an enjoyable experience.
Warren Bobrow September 07, 2011 at 09:24 PM
I'm glad to see you care about my well being. Thank you Declan. At least my readership metrics are up. And continue to go up. As you know, not all restaurants are about atmosphere or staff, although it is as much a part of the meal as the food. Thank you for keeping me on the right track. If I didn't hear from you, I'd be worried! Have a great week! wb
MMS September 07, 2011 at 09:39 PM
I have eaten at Urban Table and was actually a bit disappointed myself. I ordered a burger and fried and let the waiter know of my nut allergy when I ordered. The waiter returned to my table after bringing the order to the kitchen to let me know that they use a nut-based oil (but not peanut oil?) to fry their foods and I should not get anything that is fried in their fryers. Therefore I substituted my fries for mac and cheese. When my meal came out, sure enough there were fries on my plate, which of course contaminates all the food on my plate. The waiter realized right away after setting the plate in front of me and took it back to the kitchen to have my meal re-made. When the bill arrived they also charged me for the mac and cheese I substituted for the fries I couldn't eat.
Martatown September 07, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Bloody Bold is the best for bloody Mary's
Kendra Arnold September 08, 2011 at 01:47 PM
I want to try the food and drinks at Urban Table and love or hate them, I was really looking forward to their opening. I am a vegetarian tho, and when I asked what was available, they suggested I try the turkey burger. I wish they would add a veggie burger. I'm sure I'm not the only vegetarian who lives in Morristown. We also like going out to eat with our friends and family and not just staring sadly at our water.
Warren Bobrow September 17, 2011 at 05:48 PM
More restaurants need to understand that there are food aversions and allergies all over. A vegetable plate is a good test for a chef. Find me a chef who will shy away from this and I'll never dine in their restaurant again... and I will do everything in my power to suggest that they change the way they cook. Why? Because not everyone eats meat.
julie jacobson September 17, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I totally agree about vegetable plates - I'm not a vegetarian but if I see a vegetable plate on a menu it trumps all. I wonder if anyone remembers the restaurant Woods on Madison Ave in NYC where the vegetable plate was truly a work of art


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