With the sudden influx of summer weather and the absolutely miserably hot conditions of my kitchen yesterday during an epic cupcake baking spree, I just cannot bring myself to talk about anything that involves turning on an oven. And seeing as all the photographs I have involve ovens (indirectly, of course) I’m going to instead give you a brief look at one of my new favorite restaurants: The Hudson Clearwater.
New York has this love affair with hidden and speak easy style restaurants, and this is one of them. I have only been to a few of speakeasy style places, and while I’m not totally enamored with all of them, they can get a bit pretentious in my opinion, the Hudson Clearwater by far surpasses them all. And it starts with your phone call for reservations.
I made reservations for my dad’s birthday in April. I started calling a month in advance, though they will only accept reservations two weeks in advance, I went with the obnoxious route. They were very accommodating however, especially since every other word I spoke was, “for my dad’s birthday,” I think they got the hint. The staff is incredibly friendly on the phone and although they have a “hidden” entrance, they explain it in perfect detail to you if you’ve never been before.
When you walk up to the building it appears to be either a shuttered storefront or under construction. Walk around the corner on Morton street and you’ll see the cellar doors open for the kitchen staff, and just past that is the unmarked green metal door that leads to the back garden, which is your entrance. Walk through the tables and up to the metal stairs with an obliging hostess will take your name. Once seated, we were seated inside, one of the chipper servers will come by to take your order.
May I suggest you order a cocktail, any of them. They’re all delicious and original and exotic sounding, and you feel like you’re back in the 1940s ordering a fancy old school mixed drink, with real ingredients, not pre-fab mixes. They’re devilishly good.
All of the meal proportions are perfectly sized, and priced, for each course. Appetizers are appetizer sized so you don’t fill up before your meal, and sides are reasonably portioned as well. Which is great news, because you’ll want to lick your plate clean. The menu has a nice array of different meats and seafood, and the staff was so obliging I’m certain you could have turned any of the dishes vegetarian if that’s your preference.
The ambiance is great in the restaurant as well. We were seated a side table across from the bar/kitchen, and while it was a main thorough-fare I never felt that we were in the way or being bumped into. In fact it was nice being able to look across the way and see what was being prepared. They also have two lower dining rooms, one a half-flight of stairs down at the front of the building, which is covered with heavy drapes (to give it that outside of appearance of being closed). The other dining area is much smaller and another half-flight of stairs down under the bar/kitchen. This then connects to the outdoor garden space, which is whimsically set up with fancy metal lawn furniture and string lights.
Despite the small space, I never felt that it was overly crowded or too loud for good conversation. And we certainly had a grand time. While I didn’t have too much trouble getting a reservation, I was fairly persistent. Though I’ve heard they’re fairly accommodating to walk-ins, if you don’t mind waiting for awhile or sitting at the bar. If a second reservation proves easy to acquire I may have to make this one of my staple celebratory restaurants.
447 Hudson Street (corner of Morton)
Only open for Dinner, most major credit cards accepted (including AmEx)