THE EATBEAT: Dining in Manhattan’s Hudson Hall proves to be adventureHudson Hall was an adventure, maybe a middle-of-the-road meal in Manhattan. It was different. Some see the place as an elegant cafeteria. Others see it as “head-lamp” food.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Hudson Hall restaurant beckons weary, hungry travelers who land in the upscale and vast Hudson New York Hotel in Manhattan.
The question when you check into the hotel in late afternoon is whether to go out to eat or dine in and maybe explore the night scene after eating.
Ryan Babb (RB) and I decided to dine in shortly after our arrival on quick trip to New York earlier this month. He is with Forum Communications in Fargo and has accompanied me on my trips to the Big Apple.
We had eaten everything from dirty water hot dogs in Times Square to an elegant, unforgettable meal at Le Bernardin on our earlier trip in March. We dined in grandeur at the Dovetail. And I savored the finest of the Crown restaurant on Madison Avenue.
Hudson Hall was an adventure, maybe a middle-of-the-road meal in Manhattan.
It was different. Some see the place as an elegant cafeteria. Others see it as “head-lamp” food. We found it quite unique with chefs — maybe cooks — in the center of the big square preparing various dishes and setting them up under warming lamps.
We found a table with high stools overlooking 57th Street and between Seventh and Eighth avenues. It was, for a Midwesterner, a glorious view. We ordered beer that came in a bottle. I asked RB if we couldn’t get glasses. And they were quickly delivered.
We roamed around looking at the foods ready and waiting and decided to share several choices. We had Brussels sprouts prepared just right — not too firm, not too mushy, and with excellent, unobtrusive seasoning. We also tried short ribs, which RB pointed out are usually tough. These were tender and flavored in a sauce with a Worcestershire tinge.
We found the food to be excellent. We finished our meal with a touch of chocolate dessert. It didn’t take us long to spend $60 on a rather modest meal by New York standards.
I had mixed emotions when I went back to Hudson Hall for breakfast. I found the chef staff waiting to prepare a morning meal for customers who seemed to be hotel guests. This was no complimentary breakfast buffet. Each dish came with its own price tag. There also was an area with fruits, juices and light pastries. The cost was $28 whether you had just coffee and orange juice or items from the buffet.
My choice, of course, was to have pastries and fruit along with coffee, which was some of the best I ever drank. And the orange juice had that unmistakable freshly squeezed flavor. A waiter named Mohammed was around often to be sure the coffee was hot enough.
Along with the tables with window views, Hudson Hall has seating at huge, long tables with elegant Old World style chairs at the head and foot. If the place is busy, many sit on benches on either side of the tables.
After dinner, we found time to walk around Columbus Circle. The Hudson is just steps from Central Park and the theater district. It is chic with a design for the young at heart. The hotel was once a women’s dormitory, which explains some of the unusual decor. The narrow entry leads to a reception area set far back from the street. The hotel likes to describe this as a place to decompress.
The rooms in this hotel are small — maybe minute. Mine was striking and functional — all in white. Everything a person needs was strategically placed. It took me a while to figure out how to turn on the lamps and faucets. Each one was different and a gentle challenge.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 772-1055.