Review: New downtown restaurant City Hardware needs more work

Rhiannon Clark bartends at City Hardware in downtown Florence. The restaurant has only been open for three weeks and has been subject to mixed reviews.

I will admit that I am no connoisseur of fine dining, but I know a good restaurant when I see one. My first reaction to City Hardware, located next door to Ricatoni’s Italian Grill, was that the dining experience was going to be pleasant and much like any other nice restaurant in Florence. There was a decent-sized crowd when I entered the establishment, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

However, after being seated (and at a dirty table, nonetheless), it became clear that my experience with City Hardware was going to be anything but pleasant.

City Hardware hosts an impressive selection of food, beer, wine, cocktails and other beverages. The menu, though, is almost overwhelming with its expansive list of options. Starters include choices such as spinach and artichoke dip or crab cakes, while the entrée list boasts meals such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf and pecan-crusted grouper.

For those looking for simpler options, City Hardware also offers a unique range of burgers, salads and flatbreads.

While I looked at the menu, I asked for a glass of water. After asking my server twice, my drink finally arrived (about four and a half minutes before my food did).

I chose to try the California burger, which comes with avocado, Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, Dijon horseradish, aged cheddar and greens on a brioche bun, as well as a side of fries.

When my food arrived, I took one look at the burger on the plate in front of me (if you could call it a burger) and was instantly disgusted by the poor appearance and obvious lack of time that the restaurant took to put my order together. I believe my four-year-old cousin could have made a burger look less sloppy and more appealing.

As far as taste goes, the California burger was not terrible, but it definitely was not worth the nine dollars I paid for it. The fries were lukewarm and tasted like they had been sitting in the kitchen all afternoon long.

The dessert was the only saving grace for this terrible dining experience. I went with the spiced apple bread pudding, expecting it to be as horrendous as the rest of my meal, and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be quite the opposite. I have been trying to make the perfect spiced apple bread pudding for years, but nothing I have ever made even comes close to what I had at City Hardware.

Overall, the service was mediocre and the food was entirely too expensive for what it was. After including a tip, my meal came out to be $18 and some change. At the end of the day, because the atmosphere was enjoyable and the dessert left me wanting their recipe for spiced apple bread pudding, I give City Hardware two out five stars.