Review: Latitude 41

I hate it when I have high expectations of a place, only to be super disappointed at the reality. Latitude 41 doesn’t help matters any by billing itself as a “destination restaurant”, which brings to mind places like Alinea or the French Laundry, places where I would make a trip to a geographical location just to eat at said restaurant. It fell so short of living up to the hype that it went beyond disappointed into the realm of comical.

Our journey to our “destination” began with an inauspicious false start on Sunday – a day on which, according to their web site, they are open from 12-2 for lunch. We arrived around 1, to be greeted by and empty dining room. We stood around for a couple of minutes, with the occasional chef staring at us but making no attempt to approach, until one came over a few minutes later and informed us they were closed. “But your website says that you’re open”, I say, to which I get a shrug, a quick “you can order takeout at the bar if you like” and him turning around and walking away.

Since we had a gift certificate that we had to use, we left and came back this afternoon, again around 1pm, well within the realms of their lunch service. After being seated, our waitress filled our water glasses half way, and proceeded to disappear for quite a while. We caught her long enough when she came back to order our appetizer to share, a Lamb Sausage and Butternut Squash Flatbread ($13). The description promised a delight of flavors – the aforementioned squash and sausage, along with olive oil, rosemary, white wine, grana padano and gruyere. What we received was quite underwhelming, a glorified cracker with a sprinkling of ingredients, which overall was quite blurry and bland. The secondary ingredients were all but undetectable, and overall the dish was a mess – kind of like when you reheat something bready in the microwave – it came out barely warm, with only the insides of the flatbread being truly edible. For the price, I expected something that would blow me away. What I received instead was something I could reproduce (and better!) in my own kitchen at a fraction of the price. Definitely not a good start.

Lamb Sausage-Butternut Squash Flatbread at Latitude 41

For his entree, my husband chose the Beef Stroganoff ($13), which was actually quite good – nice tender chunks of beef in a creamy flavorful gravy, served over what I believe is fresh papardelle pasta. Decent sized portion, although a bit light on the beef, but definitely worth ordering again.

Beef Stroganoff at Latitude 41

I didn’t fare so well. Here’s where the comedy of errors begins. I decide to go with the Latitude 41 Burger ($11), which is billed on the menu as being served with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, brioche and horseradish aioli. I ordered it medium rare, as I usually do when ordering burgers. Medium rare because most places overcook burgers just a bit, and medium rare usually ends up as medium – cooked, but with pink in the middle. The burger is supposed to come with your choice of either mixed green salad, fresh fruit, or Truffle Parmesan fries. I went with the fries.

Burger at Latitude 41

Unfortunately, what I got is a well done burger with fries that had no sign whatsoever of either truffle or Parmesan – not even a hint of it in aroma, let alone flavor. Know right now that I’m the type of person who *hates* sending food back – I hate confrontation, or making a big deal out of things, and even if I’m in the right, I feel like a heel for doing it. But I do it anyway, because the burger was so well done that it was beyond edible for me.

So I wait a few minutes, out comes burger #2. Just as overdone as the first one, so I tell the waitress, who shrugs and is like “sorry you don’t like it”. I see I’m getting nowhere so I ask if the floor manager is around (so I can order something else at this point, as I’m batting 0 for 2 with burgers) – she gets the chef, who comes and stands in front of me with his arms crossed, and says to me “you’re only taking a bite – I cooked it myself, it’s medium rare, so cut it in half” which I proceed to do and show him that it’s brown throughout. He kind of mumbles something about cooking it again and walks away quickly.

A few more minutes pass, and he comes out with the burger personally. He tells me to be careful, the plate is hot. I cut into it again – still brown throughout but at this point I’m about sick of the back and forth and try to eat it. I tried, I really did. I just couldn’t. I don’t know what they did the third time, but it had the consistency of pure raw meat, with the color of fully done. It was, as Gordon Ramsay puts it, “the dogs dinner”. It was beyond gross. Here’s a blurry (but pretty accurate) picture of what I’m talking about:

Inside of the 3rd burger of the day at Latitude 41

I had totally lost my appetite for burgers at this point, and the fries I think were just reheated from before under the Salamander, so I asked her to just take it away, make sure I wasn’t charged for it and that I wanted to order a different entree which I had no problem paying for – so I went and ordered the Beef Stroganoff, the only item I had at this point that we had found to be good. I still felt like a heel, but I had gone 0 for 3 with the burgers, and at that point just figured they had no clue how to cook them. If chain restaurants can cook burgers to order, I certainly would have the same expectations of a “destination” restaurant. I fully believe that there are realistic expectations and unrealistic expectations when it comes to dining out – having your food cooked to order certainly is a realistic expectation, especially for a restaurant in this price range.

The Beef Stroganoff, like my husband’s, was quite good. We were almost afraid to order dessert at this point, but since the gift certificate was basically a $50 “use it or lose it” deal, we had to order it to use up the rest of the money.

We were actually pleasantly surprised with dessert. Paul went with a Warm Valhrona Chocolate Cake ($8), which was served with a warm berry compote and what they said was a mixed berry sorbet (which for all the world tasted to me like Jeni’s Cherry Lambic, not mixed berry). Good combination of flavors, but served on a plate that made taking pictures difficult. 🙂

Chocolate Cake Dessert at Latitude 41

I went with the Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding ($8), which was served warm with a rich Jack Daniels anglaise and caramel sauce. Good balance of flavors, slight issues with texture because there were some dry spots that were a bit chewy. Still, not a bad rendition of a classic dish.

Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding at Latitude 41

Overall, we were quite underwhelmed with our experience at Latitude 41. Service was spotty, there’s severe issues with the food, and it definitely didn’t live up to the hype and build-up. Our lunch ended up taking almost 2 1/2 hours. For an establishment that pushes the fact that it uses local ingredients, I didn’t see many listed on the menu – which I find difficult to understand with the abundance of local producers that are still putting out great Ohio produce, meat, and dairy. Unfortunately, in the end it suffered the same fate that most hotel restaurants do – underwhelming, inconsistent food for expense account budgets. What Latitude 41 seeks out to do is great in concept – at this point, I just find they’re lacking in execution.

If you’d like to go: Latitude 41, 50 N. 3rd St, Columbus (Downtown), 614.233.7541

Latitude 41 on Urbanspoon

8 thoughts on “Review: Latitude 41

  1. Rachel

    While I was not there on the occasion that the reviewer was, I would like to point out that I have had between 6 and 8 stellar dinners at Latitude 41 and it has become my single favorite restaurant in this city. I have lived in cities on the east coast (Boston, NY) and I find the food at Latitude 41 to be comparable to many of the finer restaurants in both cities at the same price range. Their Lobster Truffle Mac’N’Cheese is by far my favorite with the aroma of truffles reaching our table moments before the dish does. I find it unfortunate that the reviewer had such a terrible experience but I encourage her to give it another try- preferably for dinner.

  2. john

    You missed the boat my friend. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. They used to have a great chef there but I heared he moved to Maui a few months ago. Now it’s not as good as it used to be. It’s such a shame because this used to be one of my favorite restaurants in the US. It was really good.

  3. food&wine

    I have been to Latitude 41 numerous times and always had a great experience. Their food is to die for and the wine list is very generous (With generous prices too) The staff very friendly and accomodating.
    I would highly recommend it.

  4. Abraham Hoelrlich

    My wife and I had a similar negative experience at Latitude. Not going back

  5. Susan

    We had a gift certificate to Latitude 41 and even for FREE–we thought the food and the service was TERRIBLE…the wait staff all seemed to be new and confused…apologies were flying…Would not go back..our new fav restaurant is Bamboo Cafe on Bethel…yum!! yum! Great food–the only con is the owner, young Vietnamese guy is kinda pushy trying to upsell..
    Pho is great as is Bun…Pad Thai and spring rolls thumbs up as well..

  6. Kevin

    I had a very similar experience to many posters. I thought the food was very good, the atmosphere was elegant and the service stank. A great dining experience is more then just great food. It's a total experience and when you have a waitress who's barely qualified to work at The Waffle House, then it detracts substantially from the experience. If this restaurant wants to be taken seriously then they need to upgrade to a professional caliber of servers and not kids with attitudes. I thought the food was fabulous but I would not recommend this restaurant. When I pay these kind of prices I expect quality all the way around.

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