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Aug 16, 2011 05:15 PM

Domaine Hudson has been sold! (Wilmington DE)

Just out on DE Online. Apparently a couple from Chadds Ford, longtime customers, have bought the restaurant. "The couple will offer the same high-end food and beverages, but they are planning interior renovations, more wines, and increasing the selection of spirits."

I hope and pray that the new owners do not fool with all of the things that have made DH great over the years. I can understand why the Hudsons want a break--a restaurant is an exhausting business to run--but I'm very sad to see them go. They made a tremendous contribution to Wilmington dining--really, the first place in town to do creative food and a high-quality experience that was still friendly and casual. I feel like they paved the way for the other good restaurants that have opened here in the six years since they've been open.

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  1. I would concur with your sentiments. DH was wonderful on a regular basis and a great place to take out-of-towners. New ownership means tinkering/changes. The good news is that there really isn't too much that needs to be done; sort of like a house that has great bones but needs a fresh coat of paint. Let's hope the folks in the kitchen stay happy.

    1. DNJ now reporting that Tom and Meg were divorced in January. I suspected that was the reason for the sale (her name had disappeared from DH's website), but I didn't want to speculate publicly. That's a real shame. Certainly, she was a tremendous part of the restaurant's successful operation. If I owned a restaurant around here I would be calling her right now to hire her.

      The last paragraph of the New Journal's updated article makes me very uneasy: "The restaurant’s maitre d’ Javier Matamoros, whom longtime Wilmingtonians may remember from the former Positano restaurant, also will begin offering tableside services, such as tossing Caesar salads and fileting fish."

      Ugh. Caesar salad??? Looks like the first step of turning my beloved Domaine Hudson into the (old, and now resurrected) Columbus Inn. It's just a short step from there to the introduction of a prime rib carving station. God help this place.

      6 Replies
      1. re: travelmad478

        (laughing) Calm down my foodie friend. Let's see what the new mgmt team has in store for us. What is interesting, is that in some cases, the divorced couple remain business partners. With such a successful restaurant, you would think that they might have been able to at least coexist for the sake of the restaurant. Sounds like it might have been a messy divorce (speculation on my part and I certainly hope not) and hence the reason for the sale.

        I sense the fear in your post and harbor your concerns. Very funny though regarding the caesar salad and possible prime rib carving station. Next thing you'll tell us is that they are offering an all you can eat Sunday Buffet... $19.99.

        Keep the faith and let's see what happens. It might not be a bad idea to visit DH in the near future to catch a glimpse of what it used to be, though.

        1. re: travelmad478

          Uggh. Its the 70's show!

          Carrot cake and roast tom turkey are next.

          1. re: travelmad478

            Positano -- is that the place that was on Rt. 52 in Greenville, or am I thinking of the wrong place?

            And which Wilmington restaurant used to have a Caesar salad person who used to toss the grated cheese into the salad bowl from about 20 feet away? That was always so strange!

            1. re: CindyJ

              Positano's is on Pennsylvania Ave. in Wilmington, basically across the street from Columbus Inn. (Not a good sign.)

              I've only been living here for 13 years and must have missed the cheese-tossing guy. Somehow, I don't think I missed much.

              1. re: CindyJ

                I'm more of a Delaware newbie than travelmad478 but I believe the place you're thinking of is Vincente's Restaurant which is now on Kirkwood Highway.

                And I do fear for the future of Domaine Hudson with this kind of lowest common denominator pandering. I don't understand why someone would buy a restaurant they claim to love and then make such fundamental changes that they undermine what made the place special in the first place.

                Vincente's Restaurant
                5914 Kirkwood Hwy, Wilmington, DE 19808

            2. Made my first post-changeover visit to DH last night for a dinner with my business colleagues. So far, not much has changed except for the staff, which seems to have turned over 100%. The new people need training and polish, with the exception of the head waiter (presumably Javier Matamoros, who took our order).

              The menu items were new (which was a common occurrence under the old regime anyway), although the wine, cheese, and charcuterie offerings seem unchanged. The dishes on the menu were in keeping with the restaurant's previous style--creative, still offering some entrees in half sizes, etc. I was reasonably happy with my starter (grilled baby octopus) and entree (salmon--a bit overcooked though), although my bread pudding dessert was seriously sub-par, unfortunately. The dessert list was pretty dull, too. Start looking for a pastry chef, guys!

              What I understand is that there will be an overhaul of the decor, by the same decorator that did the Stone Balloon Winehouse (meh, IMO). I don't know when that will occur or how long the restaurant might close to do it. But at least thus far, no Caesar salads in evidence, thank God. I'll keep DH on my list for now...but it is definitely on probation!

              Stone Balloon Winehouse
              115 East Main Street, Newark, DE 19711

              7 Replies
              1. re: travelmad478

                James Beard Fdn just nominated the chef for a regional award.


                1. re: gfweb1

                  The token Delaware representative?

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    Actually no, they also nominated the chef at Espuma in Rehoboth.

                    1. re: travelmad478

                      James Beard Awards are self-nominated!

                      1. re: scoopG

                        I meant selected as a semi-finalist, not nominated.

                2. re: travelmad478

                  Ate t here tonight and if anything it is better. Decor is nice and not like Stone Balloon. Wine list on an iPad or paper your choice. Service lagged, but overall I like the place more.

                  1. re: gfweb1

                    Good to hear. Now if they would just open for lunch, so I can do business lunches there!!

                3. Delaware Online is running mini-reviews by staffers of restaurants participating in Delaware Dines Out this week on Patricia Talorico's Second Helpings blog.

                  DH got a not-so-glowing review:

                  The News Journal (which is a sponsor of Delaware Dines Out) tends to steer clear of negative remarks in its reviews so this strikes me as fairly harsh by its usual standards.

                  While restaurant weeks like DDO with their limited menus aren't the best way to get a true taste of a restaurant, the service issues described are disappointing at a place like DH which used to pride itself on the quality of its service and personnel.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MrRuffles

                    Wow, just read that NJ post, and I can only say "ouch." I haven't been to DH in more than a year and with that review, I don't think I want to chance it!

                    1. re: travelmad478

                      If I were Tom or Meg, I'd want them to change the name before they completely tarnish it.

                    2. re: MrRuffles

                      News Journal Writes Negative Review.
                      Wow. How did this get past the advertising dept? Damning indeed.

                      1. re: sal_acid

                        That's the first sign. Now when Delaware Today says something bad in a review I know the apocalpse will be coming...

                        1. re: bluehensfan

                          And you will know it has arrived when either Out & About or Spark print an unkind word.

                          1. re: MrRuffles

                            For sure Out & About. Next thing you know it will be Delaware Today!

                            (By the way, am I the only person who, when they moved to Delaware, thought Out & About was a magazine for the state's GLBT community?)