HUDSON HALL 356 West 58th St, 212-554-6502, hudsonhotel.com
School’s back in session—or at least it appears to be so at Hudson Hall. Formerly the whimsically chic Hudson Cafeteria, the space has been revamped with a 360 degree art installation and a self-service cafeteria-style line wrapping around the exposed kitchen, replete with sporty red custom-made trays, just like the days when we broke for lunch, having spent our time learning reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
From the list of Canned items, we had to start with the Hell or High Watermelon Wheat ($7) where the brew tread a fine balance with slightly bitter and smooth melon flavors. Booze came in the form of a crazy, gorgeous Salty Dog ($12) with a mash-up of Cazadores blanco tequila, grapefruit, agave nectar and sea salt.
Sample Small Plates range in price from $4 to $12 per item so we loaded up our trays. Big chunks of fresh Ahi Tuna Tartare ($10) were an absolute delight with hijiki seaweed salad, avocado, lotus root and a delicious truffled soy vinaigrette—I don’t remember any lunch lady serving up that! The Heirloom Spinach Salad ($6) was good too, with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, Marcona almonds frizzled with sugar and dried raspberries all tossed with sherry vinaigrette. Farm fresh Tinkerbell Peppers ($6) shared a plate with buffalo mozzarella, aged balsamic and baby arugula. The Fries ($4) were delicious and the Tater Tots ($4) a real hoot.
The Margarita Flatbread ($6) brought us old-school, tasting like perfect Elio’s frozen, and I mean that in the most sincere sense. White Flatbread ($6) with roasted artichokes, Parmesan, sheep’s milk ricotta and garlic was another charm.
Several orders of the Spring Agnolotti ($8) with morels and zucchini made it around the table and Chermoula Roasted Amish Chicken ($10) perched on top of a Sullivan Street Bakery bread salad with currants, toasted pine nuts, frisee, Cippolini onions and Kalamata olives was a fragrant little garden indeed.
Desserts were creamy dreams also reminiscent of our childhoods: Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake ($8) with candied lemon rind, macerated blueberries and a graham cracker crust enthralled us as did the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding ($6).
First published in Next magazine.