Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where You Should Be Eating Now :: Hudson Clearwater

A little undercover, the type of vibe that makes you want to stay all night, warm and rustic design, killer music...and a whole lot of incredible food.  Located in the West Village, Hudson Clearwater is the restaurant scene's newest, best kept secret.  I've waited far too long to post something about this place, but figured we could all use a bit of food-driven excitement on such a dreary day.

HCW is keen on keeping a low-profile, making your experience that much more personal.  No distinct storefront awning and a clandestine garden entrance help make the space the cool, hidden gem that it is.  Step inside and you'll immediately be welcomed by an open kitchen where you'll watch first-hand the energy, excitement and authenticity that goes into executive chef Wes Long's menu.  He's the type of guy who'll take time to greet you and chat about anything and everything for a few minutes (or longer), as will any of HCW's four owners, Mark and John Barboni, Christopher Brandon and Matthew Hechter.

Long's genuine appreciation of food and his attention to good health, flavor and sustainably-sourced ingredients is clear.  Not too shocking, it's one of the reasons I keep on coming back.  HCW's vision of fusing health and seasonality into knockout restaurant fare runs deep and it shows.  Given my frequent visits, I've been lucky enough to experience just about all of the menu (and a few chef tasting meals as well).  A few dishes to daydream about this afternoon...arugula with spiced pecans, St. Andre & apple ribbons; the aged white cheddar shortcake, roasted root vegetables and horseradish creme fraiche; crispy duck breast with grilled onion and swiss chard ragout; the cured pork belly (yes, I'm suggesting you order pork belly) with grilled beets, creamy polenta and cherry-dickel caramel.  Be sure to get a side of Brussels sprouts and the potato-cauliflower gratin with radish salad, they're pretty amazing.  I won't call out a specific dessert because that'd be discriminatory and they're all stellar, but twist my arm and I'd shoot for the lemon bar with fig compote or the chocolate-cherry ganache with fresh light and balanced, you'll comfortably leave the table without feeling like someone needs to roll you out the door.  And an fyi, or word of warning, definitely glance over the cocktail list.  

Good guys doing up genuine food.  You can't really go wrong with that.  Looking forward to Long's spring menu, due out very soon.
And ps., you'll definitely want to keep this little secret to yourself (and a few very lucky friends).  

images via: UrbanDaddy & Nourish

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