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Good News/Bad News: Urban Tavern

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Now open for about a month is Urban Tavern, the 240-seater by Laurent Manrique and Donna Scala that sits within the confines of the O'Farrell Street Hilton. Over the next few months, the review circuit will probably start to descend on the place, if for no other reason than the big names attached, but before they do, let's check in with some of the buzz from the first month of service down on Union Square. As always, feel free to chime in with your own opinions.

Mostly Good News: "San Francisco fine dining followers will certainly give Urban Tavern a whirl, but will the iffy-in-the-past location at O'Farrell and Mason encourage repeat business and success on the scale of a place like Salt House? Urban Tavern should certainly draw capital as a chic new watering hole for the traveling expense account set. After all, despite a standalone, sidewalk-facing entrance on O'Farrell, it is nevertheless located on the ground floor of the Hilton." [Yum Diary]

Mostly Bad News: "We saw the chef dip in and out of the dining room several more many times in fact that my wife started to count ... The menu had some good looking stuff on it...pissaladiere, clams and chorizo, etc. The mains were a little more confusing, as you could order fish or meat (22-48$), then add a sauce (3-4$...for fucking sauce) then add veg or starch. (4-7$) We decided to play it safe and stick with apps....ordering the pissaladiere and the piadini. I dont want to go into detail about how badly these dishes failed, so ill just show a picture instead, and let you figure it out." [linecook]

Slightly Explanatory News: "well, you have to keep in mind this place did just open...give it a couple months before knocking it off your list. i know from experience that the opening stages of a restaurant can be difficult...and to make matters worse, they've got to staff hilton employees -- they can't even bring in their own...ouch! I personally thought the food was delicious and will come back to see if the staff improves." [Eater Comments]

Slightly Discouraging News: "It's too bright. Way, way too bright. The food is inconsistent. Sometimes it's awesome, other times it was around terrible. The staff is inconsistent. Bartenders aside, I've had mixed feelings about the wait staff. Prices are also weird. Wine by the glass seems a bit up there, and the sandwiches are way too expensive ($16 for a roast beef sandwich? really?) They call themselves a tavern, yet they have no beer on tap. Just bottles. Weird. All in all, I think I'll probably find myself there again. Probably for a happy hour or two, as the drinks and the bartenders are great. And it'd still be light out so the bright evening lighting wouldn't bother me too much." [Yelp]

Slightly Encouraging News: "I tried a pissaladiere ($11), a traditional tart made with anchovy, browned onions and cheese. At Urban they play it safe with olives, no anchovies and grilled sardines. The tart came in the form of four squares instead of a wedge, and even though they subbed some fresh anchovies for the sardines, it didn't have the flavor or complexity of the real thing. Plus it was way too oily. The star of my lunch, and a dish I would go back for in a Hilton minute, was the hanger steak ($20), served as ordered, medium rare. I chose to pair it with the black pepper-Armagnac sauce." [GraceAnn Walden]
· Eater Inside: Urban Tavern [~ESF~]
· Gastropubs Gone Wild: What's Missing At Urban Tavern? [~ESF~]
· Complete Urban Tavern Coverage [~ESF~]