A recent weekend saw a very rare occurrence, a weekend without kids or obligations. It took us a couple of weeks to decide where to go, but one thing was certain, it had to include the kind of dinner we almost never get to go out for, and lots of strolling. Before we had kids Jennifer and I would spend a lot of our leisure time strolling up and down Broadway in Saratoga. Sometimes we would take day trips to places like Lenox, MA, or Rhinebeck, NY for a change of scenery and an inexpensive lunch somewhere. We were kind of broke and could rarely splurge in those days. Fast forward to current times and things are different. We have pretty good jobs, and can afford to choose to go to pretty much any restaurant we want. Now is that we have offspring to care for we have few chances to have some time to ourselves. Well, the stars aligned and we had an overnight in Hudson where we planned to have lunch at Swoon Kitchenbar, dinner at Fish and Game, and breakfast at Café Le Perche. We added a couple of stops in between and had ourselves a fine holiday.
With Theresa at Nana and Pop’s, and Stella and Tate at Grandma and Papa’s, we were clear to head south and stuff our faces. Our first stop was Swoon. I’ve wanted to check this place out for a few years now because there was a sweet couple that came to The Whine Bar and always told me that my food reminded them of the food at Swoon. We had a pretty light lunch of crispy artichokes, country pâté, and a few cheeses. Our only wish is that there was fresh baguette with our selections rather than crackers and crostini, clearly done well ahead of time. We did however enjoy the busy place and I thought I would like to return for dinner as I was a bit worried about our upcoming dinner due to pretty lukewarm reviews on that interwebs for F&G.
After lunch we checked into our hotel which was within strolling distance from all our planned stops. With dinner reservations at 6:30 we had plenty of time to walk and shop on Warren St. We decided that either a cocktail or a cup of coffee was in order, so with a bit of booze under our belts from lunch we opted for coffee at Verdigris Tea and Chocolate. We could have had tea, but tea is only for ladies, the infirmed, and the English. We ordered two coffees for ‘here’ but were informed that they were out of mugs and did we mind if our coffee was in to go cups. “You’re out of cups?” I thought, and I wanted to tell them to go wash some. Imagine if I had a server tell a diner that I would be serving their dinner in a to go container because we were out of plates. The coffee ran out after filling the first cup. It wasn’t very good coffee anyway. Should have had tea. The Mast Bros. goat’s milk chocolate was good.
We arrived at Fish and Game a little early, but our table was ready and we were accommodated by a friendly and efficient hostess. I was pretty excited about the upcoming experience because it is not often in life that I go to a high-profile restaurant despite my career and love of great food. I also wanted to see which was warranted, the James Beard award or the 3 out of 5 star average on Yelp and multitude of poor reviews on Op en Table. We started with a couple of $15 cocktails, not overly expensive for a well crafted cocktail, but these were small, very small. My warm ‘Here comes Doctor Joe’ was good, but served in a demitasse teacup. I felt kind of dainty. The meal followed from there, small and expensive. Small is fine. As Thomas Keller says, a good portion leaves you wanting one more bite. Expensive is ok too, as long as you get what you pay for. I won’t go into detail, but we did not get what we paid for. One thing I will mention in some detail is that we were served very rare and cold chicken livers (from the wood-fired oven). When I pointed out to one of the service staff that we could not eat them she somewhat argued with me about them. Perhaps she has blind faith in the kitchen and their ability to do things without flaw, but I do not after the experience, and I’m guessing that James Beard would not eat very rare chicken livers. After a few hundred bucks in on just small plates we decided to forego desert and get a sweet somewhere else.
We walked into one spot well-known for sourdough pizza and were real close to getting a table and a small pie. Yes, we were still hungry but we refocused on dessert and headed to Ca’Mea for Tiramisu, lemon tart and a couple of the grandest pours of Strega I’ve ever seen. Strega is 80 proof, and I suspect the young barkeep was not aware of its potency as she likely doesn’t sell too much of this golden-yellow nectar of the gods. The about 4 oz pours were a surprise, and at $9 we decided to have another round which made for a tough morning.
After a nap in a very comfortable room at The Barlow, we made our way back out to Warren St for a nice walk and breakfast at Café Le Perche. The entrance was stocked with some great offerings from an imported-from-France wood-fired brick oven. We could have grabbed a couple of coffees to go with a fist full of croissant and been very happy, but the need for a more substantial offering due to the generous snifters full of after dinner drinks made us take a seat by the fireplace and enjoy a good French brunch. When in Hudson again I would try them for dinner.
Well, I don’t know when we’ll get out again, but I’m sure the time spent together will be as special and as memorable as this experience. I savor these times with Jenny.