A fresh, modern downtown boutique hotel is just the type of thing New Bedford needed.

But the high-end restaurant inside may have a little re-thinking to do.

My wife and I are in the process of selling our antique downtown home and going suburban in the far North End, so on a recent Monday night we decided to take advantage of the fact we can still stroll downtown and enjoy the nightlife.

The New Bedford Harbor Hotel was on our mind since a few days earlier I’d judged the New Bedford Chowderfest, and the Harbor Hotel — which I was told will soon have a separate name for its restaurant — had one of the most unique chowders. With a distinct pickle flavor that went beyond dill and into that familiar briney, garlicky, vinegar-laden place. My wife rated it as her favorite chowder of them all. I had it ranked last.

It turned out, that type of culinary roller coaster, from delicious to dubious, is exactly what we got when we visited the restaurant itself a few days later.

Located in the lobby of the Harbor Hotel on Union Street, at the corner with Pleasant, the dimly lit lobby features a check-in desk, small lounge and a restaurant in back, with a bar along one exposed brick wall.

It felt like a boutique hotel in a major metropolitan city, but too much so. The Edison bulb lights, tile floors and walls, generic artwork and neutral color palette are attractive and modern enough, but there’s nothing distinct or uniquely New Bedford about it.

We were seated quickly as the restaurant only had a few guests on this Monday night. My wife browsed the wine list (glasses were $8-12, bottles $30-60) and considered the Mostcao D’Asti ($10/$38) before deciding on an ice water.

At least the upscale drink list was more creative than the decor, with a basil smash (Hendricks gin, Absolut lime, fresh basil and fresh lime), mint berry crush (Absolut lime, raspberries, mint and fresh lime) and several martinis, ranging from La Poire Flower (Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germain Elderflower, fresh grapefruit and fresh lemon) to mint chocolate (360 double chocolate vodka, Rum Chata, Creme de Menthe).

None of them really interested me, so I went to my tried-and-true, a Jack Daniels and Coke ($9). Later, on a neighboring table, I noticed a fall drink menu that featured an apple cider sangria (white wine, brandy, caramel, apple cider and cinnamon) and a maple bourbon smash (bourbon, maple syrup, fresh lemon, Angostura bitters, muddled orange peel), which I would have ordered.

During the day, the Harbor Hotel offers a lunch menu featuring everything from fig jam pizza (prosciutto, mozzarella, fig jam, topped with fresh arugula for $9.95), sandwiches like the California Dreamer (sourdough bread with sliced avocado red and yellow roasted tomatoes, watermelon radish, goat cheese, pea shoots and lemon oil drizzle for $10.95) and the Conspiracy burger (angus beef, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, tomato, fried egg and caramelized onion on brioche for $14.95).

There’s also a tapas menu with some really creative offerings, like the Tako Su salad bowl (octopus, English cucumber, roasted tomatoes, Wakame seaweed, toasted sesame, watermelon radish, rice vinaigrette and soy sauce for $15), chorizo and shrimp bites (braised in port wine and served with an herb crostini for $12) and kosher lamb lollipops (with mint microgreens and pineapple chutney for $12).

Sounds delicious and creative, right? That’s my wheelhouse. I was excited.

For an appetizer, we debated between the pan asian pork belly ($14.99) and the shrimp mozambique ($14.99), opting for the pork belly in the end.

Except it wasn’t really pork belly.

If I’d read the description closer, I would have known. Instead, when it arrived at the table, it was four slices of thick-cut Applewood-smoked bacon, drizzled with a Pineapple Sambal Oelek sauce. I had been expecting big, meaty chunks of pork belly. Instead, it was curled bacon.

Now, it still tasted delicious, because salty, crispy bacon, sweet, soft pineapple and tangy teriyaki sauce is an excellent combination, both in flavor and texture. But for $15 it was missing that hearty slab of pork belly I was expecting.

I’m still curious, because while it says “Applewood smoked bacon” on the dinner menu, it’s listed as “thick cuts of Applewood Smoked Pork Belly” on the lunch appetizer menu, where it comes as skewers.

Becca started off with a cup of the Harbor lobster bisque ($5.50 cup/$7.25 bowl). It was the highlight of her meal. It came with a large crostini and a generous pile of tender, sweet lobster over a complex, creamy, oceanic broth. I thought it tasted just a little burnt, but Becca loved the not-quite smooth, not-quite grainy puree.

After our mixed bag of appetizers, I had high hopes for the entrees. Everything sounded delicious off a menu that is both adventurous and familiar. As a treat, I ordered the filet mignon — quite possibly my favorite dish in the world, but one I only order on special occasions, due to its deflating effect on my wallet.

The steak was the highlight of my meal, and one of the better steaks I’ve had in the area, although for $38, it needed to be. Served right at the medium-rare I requested, the 8-10 ounce serving was seared with a topping of crushed garlic and herbs, which caramelized to create a crunchy, flavor-packed crust on the top. The meat, pink and juicy, melted in your mouth with a beautiful supple feel. It came with an herbaceous Argentinian Chimichurri sauce that added a bright, floral note to the meat.

To nitpick, you don’t get any choices with your sides. All the dinner entrees come with the vegetable and starch of the day, which for us was broccoli and wild rice. The broccoli was a tad overcooked, there wasn’t much bite left, but nicely doused in butter. The rice was mostly filler, with just a little wild rice, and for those of us who have lived in Minnesota, this was close to a tragedy. It was probably ⅔ rice pilaf, ⅓ wild rice. While fluffy, surprisingly soft (due to small ratio of actual wild rice) and unobjectionable, it didn’t stand out.

At this point, I was raving about my steak, but Becca wasn’t enjoying her Chilean sea bass ($34). The bass itself was cooked well, moist and flaky, obviously fresh, tasting clean and bright. It was topped with tart balsamic pearls that looked just like capers.

But the sauce was borderline inedible. Listed on the menu as a creamy citrus sauce, it tasted like lemon juice poured in cream, and clicked on that light in both our brains that said ‘this is kinda like curdled milk.’ She ate the fish, but we didn’t dip any of the fresh dinner rolls in the sauce.

I’m willing to give the New Bedford Harbor Hotel another shot. The service from our waitress, Maegan, was friendly and attentive. It feels like an upscale, professional place to meet a guest or client for a drink, and from what I’ve heard from one friend who spent the night the rooms are comfortable and well-appointed. My steak was one of the best dishes — albeit most expensive — I’ve had in awhile.

But when the final bill comes to $110.37 — including tax but before tip — for a cup of soup, an appetizer, two entrees and one drink, and you’re leaving discussing what went wrong with a sauce, one is left wondering if they might need more than a new name.