As we continue to re-review our earlier Infatuation hits, we’ve generally found that excellent restaurants have mostly remained excellent and that the ones in the middle - the good ones - have had mixed results thanks to a litany of ownership, location, and chef change-ups. So it’s rare we find a good spot that’s gotten significantly better without a complete overhaul, but Hudson Clearwater has done just that.
Hudson Clearwater is largely the same restaurant that it was in our initial review in 2011. You still enter from a sort-of-hidden side door. Their quaint little patio is still romantic as f*ck. And their staff, while extremely friendly, still beg the age old #HomelessOrHipster question. But there’s one significant improvement that resulted in today’s upgraded rating - the menu. We could never get around some of the curveballs that this place threw at us in our early days of eating here, and we must not have been alone. It seems that Hudson Clearwater has turned down the funk a bit in favor of more appetizing things that don’t rely on weirdness to impress.
The other thing we initially disliked about this place - the crowd - has also improved. We don’t know where the UrbanDaddy bros have moved on to, but we’re betting it’s underground and has tequila on tap. Either way, Hudson Clearwater seems to have settled into a more mellow West Village crowd, and for that we’re thankful.
At the end of the day, we can now fully embrace Hudson Clearwater as one of the better restaurants in this part of town, especially during the summer months when their backyard is in full swing. What prompted the changes for the better? Don’t know. Don’t care.
More lamb ribs, please.
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If you love to start your meal with cheese, get this. Though we’re not sure where they’re hiding the “confit” in the dressing because it tastes pretty normal to us.
Buttered Long Island Clams
Our absolute favorite thing from the early days of eating at Hudson Clearwater, and we’re happy to report that this perfect little pot with clams, gnocchi, greens, and lemon has stood the test of time. A must order.
Seared Rhode Island Squid
If you like your squid with an aggressive char, then you’ll be in business with this dish, thanks especially to the fresh accouterments they’ve tossed in. We can’t say we’ve ever eaten squid with hummus before, but we also hadn’t eaten seahorse before this summer and look at us now.
Grilled Lamb Ribs
Complaining about the girth of appetizer ribs is one of our favorite activities, but we’re not going to do it here because they were delicious despite the lack of meat on dem bones. Just don’t plan to share with too many people, or you’ll end up sad and hungry.
Seared Duck Breast
Don’t call it a comeback. We didn’t need them to tweak this favorite, but we’re glad they did. It’s still crispy and delicious, but they ditched the old wedding-style potatoes for fresh mushrooms, farro, and spinach. They also added a flavorful lemon gremolata, which Google has informed us is an herb-based condiment that we will cherish for eternity.
Grilled Pork Chop
We loved the old pork entree at Hudson Clearwater (it came with house-cured bacon) and we love the new one as well (it, too, comes with bacon). It also comes with some fun things like emmer berry and buttermilk ranch, but we’re not going to sit here and pretend like the #PigOnPigOnPig isn’t our reason for loving this dish.
If anyone has squeezed a last drip of life out of this tired culinary trope, it’s Hudson Clearwater. These puppies are served with apple butter, which is butter but better, and come topped with Spanish peanuts.