Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hudson Clearwater

I shall never become unacquainted with the anticipatory feeling that comes over me each time I witness, as though magic is being performed before my very eyes, the carefully laid out grid of Manhattan’s streets become an entangled heap of cobblestone, brownstones, and tree lines. As if the West Village didn’t already feel like the most delightful, tucked away secret harbored by one of the world’s greatest cities...

 ...add to it the enchantment of dusk and a hunt for an unmarked “green door.” Charles, Christopher, Barrow, the cabby himself even missed the former, reputed speakeasy.  It’s one of those facades which upon discovering makes one feel as if it were only by delicious happenstance even with the address scribbled on the back of your hand. 

As I pushed through the unassuming door that leads to Hudson Clearwater, my eyes danced with excitement...

...as I took in the most charming garden strung quaintly with twinkle lights and sprinkled with small gathering tables meant for an intimate two and copious amounts of good cheer and wine; I’d like to presume.

We climbed the steps up to the restaurant, the windows flung wide as if welcoming with open arms the changing of the seasons, and were greeted by the host who to our pleasant surprise was expecting us. The warm hardwoods, serene greyish blue walls, exposed brick, and the kind of lighting that makes anyone dashing made me secretly smile as I could already tell that this would be the place we would have a perfect Sunday supper.

Executive Chef Wes Long at work with his fantastic team

There were two place settings, one for me and one for A, situated so kindly beside executive chef Wes Long and his excellent culinary team.  I say kindly because I had come on my very first photography assignment never expecting to have the pleasure of wining and dining to such a satisfying extent. Like every proper meal, I started with a little bubbly (the definition of proper if you know me well) and a delicate, yet playful amuse bouche which I believe, along with the aperitif, is one of the last relics of the age of grace and civility.
asian pear, lemon balm aioli, toasted almond, micro celery
The entire experience was consistently top ten, but there is no superlative that should be spared when it comes to this chilled soup.  It was the changing of seasons in a bowl, summer's best squash with a hint of autumn to come and admittedly my favorite!
chilled delicata squash soup, toasted pumpkin seed oil, candied squash seeds, chive

They strive to source locally with a few exceptions necessary for the best of olive oil and the tasty morsels of St. Andre cheese in the arugula salad.  For those of you who want to argue about supporting the local economy, you really won't be able to as the fork will find your grateful mouth before you can get a proud word out edgewise.
arugula salad with spiced walnuts, pear ribbons, st Andre and pear vinaigrette
Next was the three day duck. Three days that is, to prepare heaven on a plate.  Can you believe that's all it takes for heaven? Lucky duck, not so much. Lucky me, without a doubt. It was perfectly crisp on the outside, but fell apart at the touch of a fork.
lemon cured duck confit, chilled corn maux choux, pickled jalapenos, pea tendrils

At this point I feel the top of my pants start to tighten, but this doesn't stop me from enthusiastically throwing myself into several more courses. I was on "assignment," after all.
roasted block island tile fish corn puree, fingerling potato confit, haricot verts, almond and lime pesto

We are self-proclaimed pescatarians, 90% of the time (the carnivorous 10% accounts for eating out as the sight of blood makes my stomach somersault) but A opted for the filet, and I have never seen anything that wasn't swimming prior disappear from his plate so fast.
grilled petit filet mignon, mushroom wild rice, bibb lettuce, apricot peach chutney

To our delight, Wes carefully delivered each dish with a detailed explanation. I may have pretended I was a judge on the next Food Network star, just saying.
raw golden and red beets, candied pistachio, dijon creme fraiche

Growing up in a small town, food presentation normally amounts to whatever Apple Bee's can manage to plate.  Don't they microwave their food? It’s also quite easy to participate in the pageantry of talking up the seemingly hidden door, the cool points for  being a supposed old speakeasy (I'll admit I'll buy into that one), and the darling garden, but it also can't be denied that Hudson Clearwater is an establishment worth drooling over.
potato and onion au gratin, breakfast radish

15 courses later, a sudden desire for spandex, and I couldn't even turn down dessert for the sake of being able to breathe. Did I mention photography assignment?
strawberry blueberry and mint shortcake with maple sugar and lemon biscuit

Of course all of my ramblings and unabashed poetic waxing cannot replace experience itself so I urge you to hunt for the green door yourself.  Should you so happen to find yourself staring at two green doors, it’s the one to the left ;)

To see what this assignment was all about and to learn more about the executive chef behind Hudson Clearwater click here.

{Original photography | Borrowed images 1 & 2}
viv said...

WOW! I live in the West Village and I must try this place. The plates look unbelievably good. Thanks for the recommendation!


Jewel @eatdrinkshoplove said...

Yum! I will have to try this place when I come to New York this November.

Aly Debbas said...

Seems like a true gem!! Your picture of the courtyard is gorgeous .... Definitely making yourself at home in the big city!

Unknown said...

That looks like the best food on the planet! What a little gem :)

Daily Cup of Couture said...

I've been wanting to try Hudson Clearwater for quite some time now!! I truly must go on my next trip back to NYC!


Unknown said...

I LOVE this place - saw Calvin Klein the last time I was there... (but I would love it even if I hadn't...) Great pics Roxy!

designstiles said...

Place looks lovely, as does the food. From someone who used to dine at Chili's, growing up and experiencing a real tasting menu makes me wonder, What the heck was I thinking. Fresh, seasonal food is divine.

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