By Philip Valys
South Florida Sun Sentinel
June 23, 2020
These are strange times to debut a new South Florida restaurant, let alone a high-rise hotel.
Just ask general manager Eyal Goldberger, who opened both the Hyatt Centric Las Olas hotel and its restaurant, Harborwood Urban Kitchen + Bar, in the thick of a global pandemic.
The newest addition to Las Olas’ tony restaurant row, Harborwood Urban Kitchen + Bar opened at 100 E. Las Olas Blvd., across the street from Huizenga Park. It is the ground-floor centerpiece of the 46-story Hyatt Centric Las Olas, which opened April 3 amid lockdowns and languished for weeks with a slow drip of travelers.
Which is why Goldberger waited until June 5 to open Harborwood, weeks after emergency orders in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties eased enough to let restaurants run at half-capacity.
“Business was pretty much nonexistent in the beginning [at the hotel],” Goldberger says. “Our restaurant didn’t have the customer base our neighbors had, so we had to wait.”
He says dining reservations have finally begun ticking up at the rustic upscale eatery, featuring burgers, tacos, pan-seared salmon and other American cuisine under chef Greg McGowan (formerly Pier Sixty-Six). The same menu will be offered at Elevate, the hotel’s eighth-floor terrace bar, which is ready to open but will stay closed until Gov. Ron DeSantis allows bars to reopen under Phase II guidelines, Goldberger says.
So far, Harborwood’s top seller is its Signature Burger ($16), a half-pound blend of Angus chuck, short rib and brisket topped with lettuce and a schmear of tomato-bacon spread. Also popular: Cured pork belly lettuce wraps ($13) stuffed with spicy carrot and jicama salad, yuzu cream and chicharrones; and Sky High Wings ($13) slathered in Buffalo sauce and crumbled bleu cheese.
Entrees include salads ($12-$13), ropa vieja tacos ($13, with roasted corn pico de gallo) and two flatbreads ($12-$14), and all but four dishes are priced $14 or less. Togarashi Grilled Shrimp ($27) is the priciest, shrimp seasoned with a seven-spice Japanese blend over a bed of cured pork belly fried rice, lump crab meat and fennel lobster sauce.
There’s a breakfast menu ($10-$15, served 8-11:30 a.m. daily), and notable items include Corn Flake-crusted brioche French toast; Lemon Poppy Ricotta Pancakes with agave nectar, blueberry and orange relish; and the All American Breakfast with three eggs, smoked bacon and fingerling potatoes. Weekend brunch will launch sometime in July, Goldberger says.
And there are craft cocktails ($10), such as You Drive Me Coconutz (with Havana Club Rum, coconut and amaro liqueur) and Today’s Payday (with Bulleit bourbon, peanuts, chocolate and a Payday candy bar). During happy hours (4-6 p.m., 9-11 p.m.), draft beer is $4 and wines-by-the-glass are $5.
COVID-19 Safety Measures
Masks are required for customers and employees, and Goldberger says tables are “spread apart at least six feet.” Patio seating is available. Tableside condiments are available by request and the restaurant uses disposable paper and QR-coded menus.
Harborwood Urban Kitchen + Bar, at 100 E. Las Olas Blvd., is open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Call 954-353-1234 or go to Hyatt.com.